Gratitude is the Key to Your Church Giving

by | December 12, 2017

At this time of year, most churches are wrapping up a beleaguered annual stewardship campaign, trying to squeak out the last few pledges in hopes of meeting the budget. Church leaders are eager to move on to the festive Christmas season and leave the difficult money conversations behind.

Are you tired of struggling through the annual giving campaign at your church? This year why not try something different? No, I’m not suggesting more money sermons, but why not help people deepen their understanding of stewardship? Why not teach them that stewardship is not about squeezing blood from turnips but about gratitude, prayer, and faith?

You’ll never solve your church giving problems until you change the conversation to gratitude.

 

What does gratitude have to do with church giving? Absolutely everything. 

Gratitude is fundamental to stewardship and generosity. In the absence of gratitude, stewardship can’t truly exist.

Gratitude emerges when we comprehend the source of who we are, what we have, and all that is.

Gratitude reminds us we are not self-made, but God-made.

Gratitude prompts us to see ourselves in community with each other and, most importantly, with God.

Gratitude liberates us from the false notion of self-reliance and moves us to reliance upon our Creator.

Gratitude does not evoke a sense of obligation or indebtedness but feelings of humility and intense joy!

An expression of gratitude is an acknowledgment of the bigger picture and God’s place at the center of it. Gratitude compels us to give back as an expression of thanksgiving and moves us to connect more deeply with God.

 

Gratitude is the beginning of the journey of stewardship.

Find ways to engage the congregation in reflecting on the things for which they are grateful. Some may struggle, at first, as they have not yet realized God is the source of all blessings. Once they do, gratitude begins to happen.

 

Here are some ways to inspire conversations and conversions around gratitude:

  1. Create a gratitude wall by having members complete index cards listing all the blessings for which they are grateful. Completing gratitude cards in worship puts it in the right context! Adults, youth, and children will benefit from this experience and learn about gratitude from each other.
  2. Pastors can write personal letters to members expressing gratitude for their gifts to the church. Pastors should be routinely writing to financial contributors already, but in case you are not, now is a good time to start. Let contributors know how important their giving is to the ministries of the church and how much it is appreciated.
  3. Make sure year-end giving statements include an expression of thanks. Rather than sending a cold financial statement, provide an accounting of how their generous contributions put ministry into motion and impacted people’s lives. Be sure to set the example by always expressing gratitude to those who make your ministry happen—physically and financially.
  4. Have your church leadership write a letter to the local community expressing gratitude for their gifts to your food pantry, vacation Bible school, or other ways in which they showed support. This could be published in the local newspaper or online.
  5. Preach, teach, and talk about gratitude as the first step on the journey of stewardship. Remind people of the generosity of their Creator in whose image they were born. Help people discover and express gratitude to God. A person whose heart is filled with gratitude has no choice but to give back.

 

Gratitude is at the heart of the stewardship journey. As grateful recipients of God’s many blessings, we are called to express our gratitude by prayerfully and faithfully giving back to build God’s Kingdom.

 

Adapted from article originally published in Net Results magazine.

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

 

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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.

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

 

 

 

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The blog was updated from the original published April 29, 2017.

 

 

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