Giving seems to always be a touchy subject in churches. Churches need money to keep their doors open and their staff paid, but pastors are often reticent to teach on giving, possibly because they don’t want to be lumped in with those notorious televangelists (and others) who have exploited the Bible’s teachings on stewardship for their own personal gain, or simply because it’s an uncomfortable topic to bring up.
If regular giving is something your church struggles with—and as interim pastors, we’ve experienced very few churches who don’t struggle with this—here are four reasons why your church members may not be giving.
They Haven’t Connected Giving to Grace
Generosity among believers should be an outpouring of the grace that God has given us. However, this this should not be interpreted as, “God gave so much for us, that we should give something back to him.” Grace is free, and we don’t “owe” God anything in return, but when we truly experience the grace of God, it should compel us to give. It is that same grace that also empowers us to give—even when we think we don’t have enough money to be giving any away. Which brings us to our next point…
They Don’t Think They Have the Money to Give
There are probably some families in your congregation who have no idea where next month’s rent money is coming from, or who are on the verge of losing their home to foreclosure. Dire financial circumstances should not be discounted, but neither should they preclude believers from giving.
At the beginning of 2 Corinthians 8, Paul commends the church in Macedonia for their generous giving, despite living in “extreme poverty” and “affliction.” In verses 3-5, Paul says of the Macedonians, “For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” (emphasis added)
John Piper, in his book Desiring God, comments, “When poverty-stricken Macedonians beg Paul for the privilege of giving money to other poor saints…it is an extension of their joy in God…They are denying themselves…but the joy of extending God’s grace to others is a far better reward than anything money could buy.”
Church members who have placed their joy in money or financial security will find it difficult to give when times are tough, but those who have placed their joy in God’s grace through Jesus Christ will live generous lives, despite their circumstances.
They Haven’t Fully Committed to Your Church’s Vision
It is to be expected that new believers or those new to your church will not begin giving immediately, but for those who are regular attenders or church members, giving should be one of the ways they worship along with their fellow believers. If your church doesn’t have a clear vision for where God is leading (or hasn’t communicated that vision well), it may be difficult for some to “get on board.” They may donate their resources elsewhere, like to parachurch ministries or missionaries, or not give at all.
They Don’t Trust the Church
Perhaps money has been mishandled in the past, or maybe your church’s lack of transparency with its finances makes people nervous. Or it could simply be that church members don’t agree with how the money is being spent (i.e., on large staff salaries, extravagant facilities, or things deemed “wasteful”). As much as individual believers are called to be good stewards of their resources, the church is even more responsible to use their resources wisely. If church members suspect that their money is being used on things that aren’t in line with their own values, it may be reason enough for them to hold back their funds.
If your church is in a time of transition or crisis, like many of the churches we work with as interim pastors, this could also be the source of your congregation’s mistrust. When it’s unclear who’s leading the church, or whether or not the church will even still be around in a year’s time, people have a hard time handing over their money.
What Should You Do if Your Church Struggles with Giving?
If you want to fix a problem within your church (such as a lack of giving), you need to know the true source of the problem. Getting to the source is not always easy, and there may be multiple underlying issues contributing to the problem. Many churches can benefit from an outside perspective to get to the root issues. That’s where the team at VitalChurch Ministry can help.
We have a group of diagnostic experts that can come to your church for an extended period of time and perform a church health assessment. We’ll interview church leaders and key volunteers, and conduct a survey of your entire congregation. These church assessments help us expose the true issues facing your church. We will also make prayerfully considered recommendations to your church regarding how to go about correcting issues that our church assessment turns up.
Would you like to learn more about our church assessments or about our interim pastor services? We’d love to talk with you, and answer any questions you may have. Contact us for more information.