Last night my wife and I attended Gwinnett Church which is North Point Community Church campus that has just started not far from our house. Beside listening to Andy Stanley preach I went away impressed with how they did the offering. From that experience I want to share with you four elements that they did right that you should adapt for your next offering.
First and foremost they actually passed the plate! OK, so they passed buckets that looked like a vanilla version of the old Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets. My point is that when so many contemporary churches are afraid of running off seekers with the offering this contemporary church did not run away from making the ask and passing the plate. Not long ago my wife and I visited an amazing service of a great contemporary church yet they did not pass the plate. You had to find the offering basket on your way out the door. My wife actually commented later that she missed seeing it. How much money has the church missed out on simply because we did not pass the plate?
Let me give you an aside here. Statistics are showing that from 1968 to 2009 giving to the church as a percent of Americans incomes decline from 3.11% to 2.38%. During this time the Contemporary church movement devalued the importance of the offering by in many cases not passing the plate. Could the decline in giving be one reason why? I found it amazing that one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America has an old fashioned offering week after week and they have continued to grow and now are the second largest church in America. By the way the largest church in America also takes up a weekly offering.
The offering was planned out not an after thought. The offering was taken up in the middle of the service right before the message. The offering was not an after thought but a planned out intentional part of their service. In most churches that I attend I can tell that no thought is given to how best to position the offering much less what to say to set the offering up for success.
I remember having a staff member not long ago tell me that the offering was an interruption to worship. I sat there stunned that a staff member would not see the offering as worship. Frankly I think that many worship leaders and staff members see the offering as a necessary evil, an intrusion into their “thing” and not what it really is, worship. North Point obviously sees the offering as not only important for their budget but important as a part of worship. Good planning and execution of an offering leads to increased giving.
They linked giving to ministry. One reason I know that the offering was not an after thought was in the way the offering was set up. The campus pastor got up after the music and said, “Let me read you an email I got last week.” He then told the story of a young couple whose small child had been in Waumba Land which is what the pre-school ministry is called at North Point. As the young couple put their child to bed after being in Waumba Land he said, “Jesus is coming.” He had learned that at Waumba land. The parents had written to share their appreciation of the teachers in Waumba land that had taught their child that Jesus loved him and would always be with him. The campus pastor then said, “As you give I want you to realize that your gift helps us support the work of Waumba Land.” In all it took less than 90 seconds to link giving to ministry.
The lesson is to tell your story. When you tell your story and link giving to ministry dollars will flow. It is not that the church asks too much for money. It is that we all too often don’t ask in the right way. North Point did it right last night and you can too.
They gave multiple options to give. Another thing that I like about the offering at North Point is they talked about how you could give online as well. I firmly believe that you must give multiple options for people to give to increase the amount of what you bring in. Mentioning online giving last night was an easy way to point out giving options.
Poor offerings led me to write my e-book, “Elevator Pitch Your Offerings.” It sells for only $9.95 which is way cheaper than other books like it. I have written 52 short one to two minute stewardship messages to help you make your offerings more effective. I lay out the principles of a good offering, what I call the Elevator Pitch. Any church can use this tool to improve their offering time. I would encourage you to get a copy today and begin using it. I know that it will help make your offerings more worshipful and help you increase what you take in weekly.