“I have some good news and bad news. The good news is the church has enough money to pay its bills. The bad news is that money is still in people’s pockets.” This preacher joke isn’t new, and neither is its message. Not many people in your church are giving. If people would just give, then the church really would have enough money, right?
In a typical church, about 50% of the households do not contribute financially…including many who are actively engaged in the church community. Why do active church families choose not to give?
Here are 4 reasons people aren’t giving.
1 – Personal Debt
In May 2017, people had more debt than they did at the start of the recession. Student loan debt has doubled and both car loans and credit card debt have grown significantly. Debt reduces people’s capacity to be generous to the church. For more on the impact of personal debt on church giving, click here.
What to do: Offer classes such as Financial Peace University to help people take positive steps to get their financial lives in order and eliminate their debt. The first step in increasing capacity for giving is to enable members to take control of their debt and become debt-free.
2 – Consumer Attitude
It is easy to buy into the message that stuff will bring more joy, more security, and more happiness. We buy bigger houses, newer cars, nicer toys (especially if technology is involved) and take bigger vacations. Yet the joy is fleeting, the security short-lived, and the happiness elusive. To learn more about the struggle between allegiance to God versus money, read more here.
What to do: Invite people to participate in hands-on mission work. This type of involvement often adds a much-needed balance to a consumer attitude and enables people to turn their focus toward gratitude, joy, security, and happiness.
3 – Fear
Fear is a long-lasting consequence of the recession that continues to shape people’s attitudes. Many still feel anxious about the future and how it will impact them financially. A common response to fear is to cling tightly to what you have. There is a reason why a clenched fist is not an image associated with generosity.
What to do: Preach the message of hope that is found in one’s faith in Jesus Christ and provides a stronger foundation for life.
4 – Flawed Perceptions
Non-givers often have the impression that any sermon or conversation about giving is about the church’s need to pay its bills. In addition, personal finances are just that—personal and not the church’s business. They complain about the ‘annual money sermon’ or even ‘beg-a-thon’ and protest if the pastor knows what people give. Though flawed, their perception is their reality. These misconceptions can lead to serious consequences.
What to do: Change the focus of your conversations around money and giving. Talk about people’s need to give rather than the church’s need to get. Share the message of transformation through generous giving and make giving about God.
If your church hopes to cultivate generosity and help people grow in their giving, address these real-life issues. By taking these positive steps, the day will come when that joke is no longer true!
The blog was updated from the original published 8/15/2017.