4 Reasons People Choose Not to Give and What to Do About It

by | June 20, 2018

“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.

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    the hyperlinks in the above article don’t work. can you fix? thank you!

    Reply
    • latresawilson

      Valerie,
      Thank you for letting us know about the links. I have since updated them, and they are working now. Thank you again!!!

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    Really surprised that you didn’t mention a very important reason thoroughly covered by Clif Christopher. Competition. There are over 1.2M non profits. The question is not “why give”. its “why give to YOU”

    Reply
    • Kristine Miller

      Michael,
      Thank you for this excellent point. Donors may be quite generous, but giving to other charities and not the church.
      Kristine

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Dear Valerie,

    People need to know where their money is going for – not jet planes and mansions. Pastors do

    need a living salary. A church budget needs to made by the people and always transparent.

    Missions need to meet real needs and be able to have a full accounting of where the funds

    are going. Charities need to demonstrate that at least 90% and hopefully more is actually

    meeting human needs. With proper research, one can find out what percentage is actully

    meeting human needs. Perhaps you could list these groups which will reveal what percentage

    of their income really meets needs. Everyone should have full disclosure and they will be

    more willing to give. Thanks from an eighty year older pastor.

    Reply

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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.

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

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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!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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Reflection

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Copyright © 2019 Abingdon Press All rights reserved.

 

 

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

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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.

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

 

 

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