Generosity Improving Changes to the Bulletin You Need to Know

by | April 18, 2018

When it comes to giving, the humble worship bulletin can do more than just show finance numbers. It can actually improve giving at your church and teach people what it means to be generous. Despite its lowly reputation, the worship bulletin remains one of the best channels, or avenues of communication, for improving how you communicate about giving in the life of the local church. Think about it: every person in your congregation in the building on a given Sunday stares at the bulletin during worship – if worship is boring, they stare at it a lot!

Here are some ways to implement generosity improving changes to the bulletin at your church and to teach the value of generosity.


Use the bulletin to educate the congregation on what’s most important.

Changing the worship bulletin was the first big move I made after I arrived at St. Andrew United Methodist Church.

When I arrived, St. Andrew’s worship bulletin looked like most church bulletins. Here is an example week:

Looks typical, right?

A wall of type, little imagery, boring imagery, little hierarchy of messaging value, no visual or design interest.

In most local churches, the contents of the bulletin are a consequence of the interests of each individual committee, staff person or outspoken member. There is no one person in charge of a cohesive, singular and strategic approach to the messages of the church. One of the parties in this usual scenario is the finance committee, and through their efforts, a chart or spreadsheet appears in the bulletin, outlining the operations picture for the year.

My preference is to offer worshippers: a) why we give and b) how to give, and c) the way generosity results in transformation.


Design the bulletin to align with your core practices as a church, including giving.

Fortunately, the church already had a tool in place that I could use to leverage the change I needed to make.

A few years prior to my arrival, the church had gone through a visioning process and emerged with a 4 part focus: Worship Connect Serve Give. While it was good, healthy and helpful to my problem that the word Give already existed in official church language, but the church had done very little to emphasize the word in its communication.

So I used the church’s strategic focus to re-think the bulletin. I decided to create a dedicated section each week in the bulletin to Give.

Does your church have a strategic focus?


7 ways to use a dedicated section in the bulletin for giving.

I created all-new designs for the bulletin for each of our worship styles (traditional and contemporary). These new designs encompassed several changes that reflect my approach to effective communication.

Here is an example of our updated design.

Now, in each weekly bulletin, there’s a section called Give. The contents of this section will vary each week. I keep a list of upcoming bulletin Give messages in a master creative calendar. Here’s a breakdown of several actual recent weekly Give messages in our bulletin. Each week emphasizes a different aspect of what it means to Give:

1. 3 Types of Giving.

Types of Giving Bulletin Ad

One week highlights that we have a 3-part strategy for giving at St. Andrew: Annual, Special, and Forever. This basic information is exactly what our people need. It helps establish a common framework for understanding how we approach giving.

2. 5 Ways to Give.

Ways to Give

Another shows the newcomer or the non-giver (which constitutes 50% of your church) that there are a variety of different ways to give.

ChurchOne Update: Another week we showed the latest update on received funds for our 3-year ChurchOne capital campaign, which is funding an extensive renovation and expansion to our campus.

3. Text to Give

Text to Give

Another week emphasizes our new text to give service, which helps teach people how to use it. Text-based giving basically constitutes an entirely new stream of revenue for the church, and many churches are missing out on this opportunity.

4. Witness

People who have personally experienced the joy of being generous have great stories to tell. Another week we invite one of our church members to share the importance of giving and how it has had an impact in their lives. This example took up an entire page.

5. Changed Lives

Changed Lives Ad

Another week tells a story of how congregational giving is funding a ministry that changes hearts and lives. We do this by highlighting a story of a changed life.

6. Endowment

St. Andrew Permanent Endowment

Another week educates the congregation on our planned giving ministry, teaching people what it is and where to learn more.

7. Capital Campaign Update

ChurchOne Update

Having a dedicated space for Giving allows you to talk about capital campaigns without feeling like you’re intruding into the “normal” life rhythms of the church. As we go though our ChurchOne capital campaign, we are able to show periodic updates to the giving status in this space.

We run other ads on occasion in the space, but these are the ones that receive the heaviest rotation. (Also, we print in color; I reproduced them in black and white here to show how they can be printed without color to save money and still get a good result.)

What other ideas can you share for how to effectively use a dedicated Give section in your bulletin?


  1. Avatar

    Can you show an example of what the bulletin looks like now as far as spacing and location in the bulletin? It looks like it is a tri-fold so how do you allocate space?

  2. Joe Park

    Len, This is an excellent piece!


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Everything you need to inspire generosity.


The Top 5 Ways To Accidentally Reduce Church Giving

In my over forty years of ministry, I have never heard a pastor say he/she has more money than the church needs. I have certainly found pastors who shared that their people were very generous or that they had out-given their budget, but never that they had too much. The mission is too big and the need is too great to not always need more. Yet every year I come across dozens of pastors and laypeople who are doing things that absolutely reduce church giving.


Are you doing things right now that unintentionally reduce giving in your congregation?


Here are five ways to accidentally reduce church giving:


1 – Emphasizing numerical targets versus missional objectives.

I have seen so many pastors encourage their people to give “an increase,” “do 3% more,” or “help us balance the budget.” The facts are that people today just do not care whether you achieve some arbitrary target or not. They want their gift to have impact and change lives. Spend your energy sharing with people how their giving to the church will make the world a better place.


2 – Publishing church giving figures in the bulletin and/or newsletter.

This sends a signal to all that this is what you really are about. You are wanting to bring in more than you send out. It says nothing about your mission and it usually appears to reflect an unhealthy church because you are behind for the year. Facts are 90% of all churches are behind until December. It is normal, not a sign of impending death. Just stop doing it.


3 – Using a line item budget to communicate with the congregation.

There is nothing about a line item budget that helps your people understand what you are truly doing in ministry. From appearances it seems that all that you are supporting are some people and a building. Line item budgets should be used only by the finance people. Distribute a missional budget to the congregation.


4 – Apologizing or joking prior to delivering sermons on money.

When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the golden calf that the people had made to worship, he did not make a joke about it or apologize for what he was about to say. He was forceful and direct and they knew he meant what he was saying. There was no misunderstanding that he considered this a very serious matter. They had put worshipping a golden calf ahead of worshipping God. Your people are doing this every day that they choose money over God. It is a big deal. People need your help to give up that which they love more than God. Quit acting like it really does not matter.


5 – Thinking that “not knowing” what people give is a righteous act.

For some reason pastors think people will think more of them if they deny themselves knowledge of individual gifts. This behavior will keep you from putting the right people in leadership, being able to diagnosis spiritual health in persons, and thanking people when they truly need and often expect thanks.


Now, go forth and quit doing those things that hurt the Kingdom!




Have you missed the first installments of the Giving Intelligence video series?

If you’ve missed the beginning of the Giving Intelligence series, they can be found on Giving365 which is a free subscription from Horizons Stewardship that includes this new video series, blogs, ebooks, webinars, and more! Subscribers receive bi-monthly blogs including information on best practices, the latest trends in giving, and helpful tools to use immediately to grow giving. In addition, Horizons’ team of Ministry Strategists will share their insights and expertise through a series of webinars. To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
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The blog was updated from the original published April 29, 2017.



Are you Ready to Lead “A Generous Life”? (An Excerpt from A Generous Life)

Eyes Wide Open by Scott McKenzie

The Village Inn in Malawi, Africa, provided attacking wolf spiders, bats, bed bugs, holes in the ceilings, broken bathroom fixtures, and all the cold water you could use—free of charge. Most of us on the mission team “stayed alert with eyes wide open,” but certainly not in gratitude. Our eyes were wide open in worry and fear and discomfort.

Colossians 4:2-4 (The Message)

2-4  Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

As we gathered for breakfast, in the midst of complaining, we heard the quiet voice of Emily, a Malawian traveling with us, say, “I saw the face of God in my motel room.” Having never slept in a bed before, Emily’s eyes were “wide open in gratitude.”

In that moment, I knew. Here was a child of God, created in the image of God with a loving and generous spirit. With her “eyes wide open in gratitude,” Emily made “Christ plain as day” to us. Emily’s gratitude taught me a critical lesson. We are all born in the image of a loving and generous God. However, we choose daily whether to live out of this loving and generous spirit. Often, we choose to live out of a resentful and bitter spirit instead. And in making our choice, we either make Christ plain or not.



Can you think of someone recently who made Christ plain to you with a loving and generous spirit? Can you think of a time when you had the opportunity to respond either with eyes wide open in gratitude or with eyes wide open in bitterness or fear? What did you choose? What were the results?

Copyright © 2019 Abingdon Press All rights reserved.



A Generous Life

A Generous Life reminds readers that we are all born in the image of a loving and generous God. The 28 devotions center around four weekly themes using generosity principles of gratitude, prayer, and faith. The journey that is “grounded in gratitude, revealed through prayer, and sealed by faith” will help people return to the generous life they were born to live. The daily readings are written by the Horizons Stewardship Team–a diverse group of pastors, church leaders, speakers, and authors. All profits from A Generous Life will be donated to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to support global missions.

A Generous Life will be available on June 4 through Amazon and Cokesbury.



To access Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.

Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

How to Make the Offering About Love (An Offering Talk for Sunday)

Instead of simply calling the ushers forward, help your congregation understand deeper meaning and connection inherent in the offering time of worship. Use what I call an Offering Talk to connect the offering to the giver’s relationship to God.

An Offering Talk can help your congregation understand the deep meaning and connection inherent in the offertory. It is an ideal stewardship teaching moment.


Here’s a sample Offering Talk to use Sunday.

Every night a father tucked his daughter into bed and they would repeat their familiar routine. The little girl would say, “I love you” and her dad would say, “I love you first.” One night, however, the little girl interjected a change. After hearing her father say, “I love you first,” she proclaimed, “I love you always!” And that became their new routine. The little girl has grown and is now a young wife and mother, but daughter and father continue to share these words. The exchange continues to affirm their love and connection. One will say, “I love you first” and then wait to hear the response, “I love you always.”

I love you first, and I love you always.

As wonderful a gift as the love between a parent and child, how much greater and more perfect is the love between God the Creator and those claimed as God’s children? This is the image of the God we have come to worship today. A God whose love reaches back into all our yesterdays and stretches into all our tomorrows. A God who always loves and forgives, who is always there to guide us when we are lost, to strengthen us when we are tired, and who overwhelms our hearts with love and grace. We come today to both acknowledge and praise the One who loves us first and who will love us always.

The motivation for giving is love.

Years ago a widow gave her last two coins as an offering to God. Many still wonder what motivated such a sacrificial gift. Surely she did not expect to have her name engraved on a wall or have the street in front of the Temple named in her honor. She clearly did not anticipate her gift would be lifted up as an example for others to follow centuries later. So what motivated her gift? Maybe she was motivated by a heart-felt desire to declare her life had been blessed by a God who had always met her needs. Blessed by a God who loved her first and always. The widow’s sacrificial offering was the very best way she knew to express that she loved God first. She would love God always.

Too often the offering is viewed as a time to pay the bills.

Today, many see the offering as a way for the church to collect money to pay bills and fund ministries. Yet at its very core, the offering is so much more. The offering is the time we are invited to proclaim, through faith, that we love God first. We love Him more than our jobs, our assets, our possessions, our hobbies, and even our families.

The offering is the time we proclaim our trust in God, above all else, as we move into an unknown future.

It is in giving we stay connected to what is really important in life and not allow materialism to define who we are; and it is in giving that we gain a deeper understanding of the depth of sacrificial love God has for us. It is in giving that we grow in our own personal journey as a follower of Jesus. It is in giving we say to God and to the world those simple, yet life-defining words: “I love you first, and I will love you always.”


An Offering Talk connects the act of giving to a higher purpose.

The offering is not a time to pay bills as mentioned above. The act of giving is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Consider using this talk in your next worship service, or write your own. In either case, help your congregation see the higher purpose of giving in worship.


 To learn more about Dustin Cooper, please click here.



Giving365 is a free subscription from Horizons Stewardship including blogs, ebooks, webinars and more! Subscribers receive bi-monthly blogs including information on best practices, the latest trends in giving, and helpful tools to use immediately to grow giving. In addition, Horizons’ team of Ministry Strategists will share their insights and expertise through a series of webinars. To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

The blog was updated from the original published 2/20/2018.




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