Copyright 2006 Rod Rogers
Even if you boldly teach biblical principles of stewardship year after year, as I did, you will still experience an occasional church giving crisis. What do you do when your giving begins to plummet?
If you’re like many pastors, you probably pray harder and offer a brief reminder to your congregation to be faithful in their giving. In most cases this does not fix the problem. It certainly never worked for me.
After many years of fumbling around, I finally figured out that I should address poor giving as I would any other problem in the church: by taking the lead to determine the cause, to clearly explain that cause to my people, and to challenge them to do what they should to solve it.
Here are three steps you can take to solve any giving crisis:
1. Check the giving records to discover the cause. Your offerings haven’t shrunk for some mysterious or mystical reason. They have dropped because some of your people have failed to give as they should. Have your church treasurer examine the giving records and tell you what changes he sees in your people’s giving patterns. You don’t necessarily need to know the names of those whose giving is sliding; but you do need to know if a large donor has stopped giving, or if ten families who regularly tithe have given a much smaller amount than normal.
2. Directly address the issue with your congregation. Clearly explain the nature of the problem (“We are $1,500 behind each month”) and its causes (“Five members gave nothing last month,” or “Twelve families significantly decreased their giving the last four weeks”). You can do this in a matter of fact way without singling anyone out and without scolding or shaming your people.
3. Challenge your church family to do what they should to fix the problem. I always took the position that poor giving was not primarily the pastor’s problem (assuming I was giving obediently), but that it was a crisis our entire church family should own. It was their responsibility to give to overcome the crises that they had created. Therefore, I would boldly challenge them to do what they should to keep our finances stable. For example, here is an actual letter I sent to our members and regular attendees on October 20, 1999, about a giving crisis we were in.
Dear Friend, I’m writing to you, a part of our church family, to let you know our offerings have been down in the last couple of months. This has created a budget problem we must not ignore.
Here are the pertinent figures:
July – $910.00 under budget
August – $42.00 under budget
September – $2,397.00 under budget (Here’s where things got real serious.)
October – $1,297.00 under budget (so far)
Since our new budget year began on July 1, we have fallen behind by $4,646.00. If this trend continues we will find ourselves in deep trouble soon, since our budget contains no “fluff.”
How do I explain this deficit? It’s not due to anything mysterious or mystical. It is explained by the following facts:
Three members (who committed to giving 10% in their membership covenant) have not given anything for four or more months.
One member has not given anything for two months.
Three members have not given their usual tithe amount, but have significantly decreased their giving, for two to four months. (This doesn’t include one member family who has been unemployed for several monthsbut who is still giving!).
Five regularly attending families/individuals have decreased their giving from their usual amount for two to four months.
These giving decreases account for approximately $4,000.00 of our $4,646.00 deficit. As your pastor I am asking you to please prayerfully evaluate your giving to see if you are acting as a faithful steward of God’s money. And if you have been sloppy in your giving, please consider making up what you have missed!
Of course, if you have had a financial crisis which accounts for your decreased giving, we understand, and would love to be able to pray, assist, and encourage you. Just let us know!
No one likes to have to talk about money, but I just thought you should know what’s going on. You have been a wonderfully giving congregation for many years, so I have confidence you will do what you can to help meet our current need. Please be praying with shameless persistence for our offerings to increase to meet our financial needs.
I love you,
Our people responded well to this letter and our giving was back on track in a few months.
When you fall into a giving crisis, don’t ignore it and hope it will go away. Get the facts, share them with your congregation, and challenge them to do what’s right. In most cases they will.