7 Mistakes Churches Make When They Talk About Giving
Giving is an integral part of the practical functions of most churches. Congregations may need to give just to keep the lights on and the pastor paid, and donations can also fund outreach and mission projects. It’s a Biblical practice—even in this modern age when online giving is an option.
But despite the clear support for monetary giving in Scripture, many believers don’t take part in this effort. Around 37 percent of individuals who go to church or consider themselves Evangelical don’t give money to the church.
Several reasons exist for why people aren’t giving to the church, and not all of them are in your control. But you can control how you communicate about giving—and poor messaging is one reason churches don’t get donations. Check out the seven communication mistakes churches make about giving—and online giving specifically—to see if you recognize any and can work on improving them in your congregation.
1. Not Talking About Giving at the Right Frequency
Many churches don’t talk about giving at all or hardly at all. It’s a touchy and uncomfortable topic. Some people might perceive sermons about giving as being demands on them or guilt trips. In reality, a sermon on giving can be extremely Biblical and involve a lot more than just writing a check to the church or tapping through to donate on an app.
On the other hand, there are churches that might talk about giving all the time. There’s always a mission, an outreach, a building addition or a youth need to support. If you have someone in the pulpit (or bulletin) asking people for money or other valuable resources—including time—every Sunday, you’re going to risk burnout. Eventually, you’ll come to the end of the resources people are able or willing to give. And before that, they’ll probably stop listening to the same message about giving because they’re bored or frustrated with it.
Aim to talk about giving regularly but not all the time. And when you do talk about giving, do so in a way that positions donations to the church as just one form of Biblical love and charity.
2. Setting Giving Apart as a Purely “Business” Matter
How you talk about giving is just as important as how often. One mistake churches make is keeping giving a purely business matter. It’s discussed in committee and board meetings, and when it’s mentioned from the pulpit, it’s all very mathematical. “The goal of raising $2,000 for the youth trip was reached,” the worship leader might announce. Or, “We need $30,000 to put the new roof on,” the pastor might say.
Yes, church finances are businesslike, and there’s certainly value in considering the practical applications and needs of money. But it’s also much more than that.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
That includes how the church manages its money and how it gets its money. Don’t talk about money and giving in purely practical terms. Tie it to Scripture, the message of a sermon, prayer and God’s will for the congregation and those within it.
3. Only Making a Spiritual Appeal for Money
The flip side of making money completely practical in the church is making it completely impractical. “People should give because God said so, and what happens after that is God’s will. That’s all they need to know.” This is not a Biblical approach.
The Bible is clear that believers should share in each other’s burdens. It doesn’t say “You should pay for the burdens, but no one needs to understand what those burdens really are.”
The more transparent a church is about finances, the more likely people are to give. People want to understand how their money is being used and whether it’s doing some good.
4. Not Providing Instructions for Online Giving
Even churches that get everything else right—talking about giving at the right frequency, ensuring everyone is aware of the need and tying giving to Scripture—can stumble when it comes to digital giving.
How often have you mentioned that online giving is an option but left it at that? Do you actually expect people to go to the website and scroll about, looking for some clue on how they can give? Perhaps you mention an app, saying that members can give on their phones at their convenience. That’s better, but you likely have a good portion of members who still don’t know exactly what to do.
Instead, take some of these steps to make online giving more likely:
- Demonstrate how it works from time to time. Invite people to a meeting or a Zoom call if they’re interested or show it during announcements on the screen.
- Put your screen to work. Regularly include the URL or church giving app name, some basic instructions for giving and a specific invitation to give.
- When you email or send a letter for donation drives, include instructions for online giving.
5. Leaving People Out of the Planning and Doing Processes
Many people feel a strong desire or pull to be involved in the good work of the church. Having accepted Christ, they are overflowing with Spirit and may not know exactly how to use that divine energy.
You know what doesn’t get rid of that feeling for most people? Tapping a screen to deposit funds and calling it a day. Yes, certainly there are people gifted with a heart for a financial donation. But there are also people who give and then want to do more.
Offer people the chance to be part of the planning and implementation processes for church programs. From serving fellowship meals to getting involved in mission work, when people can put hands to the plan, they’re more likely to see how important it is. And that makes them more likely to continue to provide monetary support.
6. Not Using Stories to Help People See the Value in Online Giving
Which of the following is more compelling to you?
- Please consider donating $10 to the outreach fund today.
- Let me tell you a story. David is a 16-year-old boy who lives with his single mom and three younger siblings. There’s not enough food to go round every day, but David’s mom is so thankful that her kids qualified for school breakfast and lunch programs so they get at least two good meals a day. What she doesn’t realize is that David saves as many parts of his school meals as he can, stowing juice boxes, rolls, and even baggies of cooked carrots in his backpack so he can bring them home and feed his younger siblings in the evenings. Will you consider donating $10 to the outreach fund today to help support our mission project to feed kids in need like David and his siblings?
It’s the story. The story is almost always more compelling, so prayerfully consider the stories you should use when talking about giving.
7. Failing to Communicate About Online Giving Options in Multiple Ways
Finally, don’t save the message about giving for the pulpit alone. Integrate this type of communication in tactful and appropriate ways across your church processes. Some examples might include:
- Posting about it on the screen during worship.
- Adding notices, instructions, and calls for giving on bulletin boards and other areas in the church.
- Adding a QR code to make giving easy on church bulletins and postings outside of fundraising events and dinners.
- Including online giving messages in emails, letters, and even committee reports.
One of the best things you can do for encouraging online giving for your church is to find a good cadence for including the message frequently and in a diverse nature without overdoing it or annoying people.