The subject of giving and generosity is usually not a popular subject to preach on. While it’s tempting to avoid the subject altogether, most pastors know that this is an import part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. So, when the pastor does eventually preach on the subject, they are then tempted to rip off the Band-Aid and tell the congregation everything they need to know about giving and generosity in one message. This is one of the rare times when ripping off the Band-Aid will do more harm than good.
Every point in your sermon is a challenge to the listener. They are challenge to either accept or act on the idea. In such a weighty subject as giving and generosity, every challenge can feel like you’re handing the listener a cinder block. If you hand ONE cinder block to someone, they’re likely ABLE to carry it…but will they be WILLING to carry it. If you hand THREE or FOUR cinder blocks to someone, few will be able and practically no one will be willing to even try. If you are serious about life change, stick to one point. If you want to make multiple points, you’re going to have to make it a sermon series.
One of the most awkward and difficult subjects to preach on is giving and generosity. I have lost track of how many times I’ve preached on giving. There are times when I’ve preached when no one wants to look you in the eye afterwards. There are other times when they really seem to appreciate the message. I have the huge advantage in that I’m preaching at someone else’s church. I will say what needs to be said and then disappear. The pastor doesn’t have that luxury.
Before you begin to write a message on giving, you need to have a solid foundation. Without a solid foundation your preaching will do more harm than good. Fix these truths in your mind first:
The Giver is Blessed: A person’s giving can draw them closer to Jesus or push them away from Jesus. Jesus is a blesser. The closer you can draw to Him, the more blessed you will be.
The Church is Worthy: Giving to a church is importing if you want to make this world a better place and see lives transformed through Jesus Christ.
Live it, then Preach it: You can’t preach effectively about what you haven’t experienced. You need to be tithing or growing towards it.
I hope and believe that most churches have this down pat. They are a fine tuned machine for getting money from the offering plate to the counters to the bank. But, if you are unsure or if you are starting a new church, this will be a good reminder. Here’s the keys:
Never do it alone: Anytime there is unsecured and uncounted money, it should never be handled alone. At least two people are bringing the offering to a safe location. At least two people are counting it. At least two people are making sure it’s locked up after counting.
Make a report: The counters should have a report of the amount deposited for the treasurer that they sign off on as well as a report of who gave what for the financial secretary.
Double check: In the counting process, make sure everything is counted twice. When the deposit doesn’t agree with the count, that erodes so much trust and puts people in compromising situations.
I’ve worked in church finances for almost 20 years now. Almost every time I receive a noncash donation (such as stock or a piano or grain), the donor wants a receipt and often they want you to include on that receipt the value of the donation. The church is not equipped to value noncash gifts which amount to providing tax advice. The IRS recognizes this and warns donees to not value these gifts.
So what do you do if the donor insists on you valuing the gift? Here’s what I do. I normally visit with the donor and let them know that the IRS doesn’t allow the church to give an amount for the value of a noncash gift. I let them know that we’ll give them a receipt that has all the details they need for any tax professional to figure out the value. In the video I detail how to fill out the receipt, and I have a template linked below.
How does your church leadership view Giving Statements? Many think of it as a tool to guilt people into faithful giving. Some of it view it just as an administrative task that does nothing for the church. What if your church’s giving statements were something that people looked forward to receiving and helped the grow as generous givers? I think this is possible, but it starts with changing your view of the giving statements.
Here’s the changes to be made:
From a reminder of pledges to a reminder of how giving is changes lives/the world.
From the focus being on the IRS and the Church Budget to the focus being on the donor and the Church Mission.
From an administrative burden to a ministry opportunity.
From something that the donor should be grateful to receive to a way to show gratitude to the donor.
Why would a pastor want to see the giving records for a church? Generally speaking, your pastor DOES NOT want to see the giving records, but they believe they need to see the giving records to lead well. Very few pastors that I’ve met want to see the giving records out of curiosity or to schmooze the big donors. The topic of money makes the uncomfortable and they don’t want to be seen in the same light as Kenneth Copeland.
Unless your pastor has proven themselves untrustworthy with sensitive information, chances are knowing how people give will help them lead better. They’ll know which members are all talk verses those that are fully invested in the mission of the church. They’ll be better able to care for their people if there is a change in giving.
Electronic giving isn’t going away yet some churches are still resistant to allowing people to give electronically. I wonder if there was a time when checks were knew and churches only accepted cash, livestock or grain. In this webinar, I try to make the case for why churches should make the switch. Long story short, 1)checks and cash usage are in decline, 2)it’s kind of silly to only accept gifts one hour per week…if the weather is good, 3)it helps people give consistently, and 4)it can be part of a person’s discipleship.
Deciding to allow electronic giving is only the first step. We also need a strategy for promoting and transitioning donors. Just because we set up electronic giving doesn’t mean that people will flock to it or even be aware of the option. You need to have a strategy for rolling it out and regularly making the congregation aware of this option.