I’ve heard many ministers in these economic times make statements that their people just aren’t giving like they used to give. Offerings have dropped drastically in many churches. This may not be a testimony of the people as much as it is a testimony of how we are doing as leaders to cast vision for giving. This subject is at times avoided from the pulpit so as not to give people the idea that all we want is their money. But the truth is that Jesus spoke more on money than He did on Heaven or Hell combined. I believe this is because Jesus knew that we hold tightly to our money when we’re trusting in IT, and loosely to our money when we’re trusting in GOD. This is why one good measurement of spiritual growth within your church is increased giving in the life of the church (not just financially, but in other areas as well). We should realize that this is an excellent tool for us as pastors/leaders to use to identify where our people are in their walk with God.
If those who are attending our churches are to understand the value of giving in their lives, we as leaders are going to have to be brave enough to cast vision for giving in a way that honors God. I think there are two approaches that we can take in casting vision for giving:
1. The ‘Give or else’ approach. This approach is what is most often used in churches today. If you don’t give, we won’t be able to pay our bills, support ministries, reach people. This approach often is used as a ‘sinking ship’ approach.
2. The ‘Give and see’ approach. This approach is what I believe the Bible encourages and works better to cast vision. We can’t motivate people to give to a sinking ship. What they will likely do is jump ship. What we can do is let them know that our purpose for encouraging giving in their lives is far from selfish. I often say it like this, “My biggest reason to see you give to our church is so that your life will be honoring to God and you will be able to see His blessings in your life. I believe God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and can take care of our light bill. I trust Him that much. But my motivation is so that you will be blessed.” I often encourage people to follow the teachings in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” The key is really knowing in your heart that your motivation is for the people.
We also should realize that as we’re casting a vision for giving, we must also cast vision for what the giving will be used for in the church. How will it change lives? How will it impact our community? How will it impact our world? We must make the vision clear so that people will desire to give freely to such a compelling vision.
We have to believe that it is a God honoring thing to encourage our people to give and that it is for their good as well as the good of the church. As we understand this, we can begin to cast vision for giving to the church using the some or all of the following methods:
Ways to Cast Vision
- Use Messages (Sermons)
- Do a series of sermons on stewardship, giving, money, finances. You can deal with more than financial. (i.e. influence, service, giving, etc) Do this at least once a year. You can also do a sermon on giving as part of a series or simply do a standalone message if it makes sense. Within a different type of sermon you can include an illustration about giving. It is important to evaluate your preaching to stay balanced … It may be good to create a preaching matrix to see what you’re preaching about and what you’re not preaching about. An example preaching calendar is shown below:
- January – Preach on Money in January (Maybe later in January) – at least 1 sermon
- June – sometime in the summer is a good time to do a money sermon
- November – November and December is a good time to speak on Money with the Holidays approaching
- Every 3 years include a series on money during the month that school starts (The other 2 years could rotate between service & evangelism)
- Always challenge people to move forward and encourage them to take the next step. Have them make a decision or a change and define it.
- Use Quarterly Giving Statements to cast vision about what God has done and is going to do as a result of giving.
- 3 month Tithe Challenge – Use this to encourage people to commit to tithing for a period of time to follow the teaching of Malachi 3:10.
- Use New Member Workshop/training along with membership agreements (Click here for a related post on this)
- Use Small Groups
- Small Group Agreements
- Small Group Studies on Finances/Giving
The truth is that we can identify if people are engaged with the vision and direction of the church by how they are giving to the church. One of the first indicators that someone is disconnecting with the vision of the church is they will stop giving. In light of this, let’s work hard at casting a God given Kingdom vision for what God can do as we cast a vision for honoring Him with what He has blessed us with in our lives.
(Photo credit: epSos.de)