How to increase generosity in your church: ask!

file6771267335956Do you want people in your church to show more generosity? Do you want them to give more to the church and beyond? I recently wrote about starting with yourself. But it takes more than being generous to cultivate generous givers. Take another step: ask them to give.

Many pastors I speak to are hesitant to boldly ask their members to give more. They are reluctant to preach about stewardship more often than once a year. They worry that people will think the church is always asking for money. They feel conflicted because the giving they ask for helps pay their salary. And they simply feel that talking about money is somehow a distraction from their real ministry. I felt like this myself for many years.

But I learned to think differently about asking people to give. I came to believe that helping people deal with their money and become more generous is ministry. It’s a critical part of pastoral ministry to individuals, and an essential part of leading a congregation.

And I don’t think pastors need apologize because people’s giving pays their salary. Pastors’ leadership is a critical part of the work of the church. And, as Paul says, “the laborer is worthy of his [or her] wages.”

Five reasons to ask people to give

Here are five reasons to ask people to give, and to ask more than once a year:

1. Many won’t give unless you ask. They weren’t raised to give, and they are used to giving in response to an appeal by other groups.
2. Other groups, such as faith-based nonprofits, do not limit their asking to once a year.
3. Asking regularly can increase giving, which means more money for your church’s ministry and more money to give away.
4. Giving can help your people grow spiritually. Encouraging them to give is a real contribution to them.
5. Helping people let go of their money can lead to greater freedom and sense of sufficiency in other areas of their lives.

What ministry could your church do if everyone understood the gracious flow of money into and out of their lives, and supported ministry within and beyond your congregation?

2 Responses to How to increase generosity in your church: ask!

  1. Great thoughts, Dwight. Thank you. Two kinds of powerful stories: one about how giving changes the giver, and the other about how giving changes the lives of others.

  2. Dwight Robarts says:

    Margaret

    Your writing about money, churches and generosity in the last couple of years has been great. I’ve learned a lot about giving and generosity from working in the non-profit world the last five years. And, I agree with you that teaching people to give is a significant ministry. A lot of work has been done in recent years in the field of positive psychology on the relationship between money and happiness. There is a relationship between the two, but only up to a certain point. Once the household makes $75,000/year there is little correlation between money and happiness with two exceptions. First, spending money on experiences contributes to people’s happiness. But, the “bigger bang for the buck” comes from giving money away. People report at all income levels that giving money away gives them the greatest sense of happiness and satisfaction. Perhaps one way we teach is to ask generous people to give testimony about what giving has done for them. Another key is church leaders need to tell members stories about how their giving has changed lives and impacted people both in the congregation and though the congregation’s ministries. That’s what the donors to my non-profit want to know. What impact has their gifts had on people or circumstances?

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