Our church is currently going through a five-week series called All In, which is a financial pledge campaign with emphases in being “all in” with the mission of God financially as well as in all other areas of life. The previous campaign our church did started in 2009 and ended in 2012 and this current one will last two years.
Giving to our church is something we love doing because we have bought in to the mission of our church (‘Love God. Love Each Other. Love Our World.’) and we have witnessed how the church has been effective in carrying out its mission. So a campaign like this one that is largely financially focused does not bother or offend us as it might others (aside from that it is sort of taking time away from more intensive Bible Study on other subjects). I can imagine that addressing the topic of giving (and particularly encouraging parishioners to give more) can be very awkward for the preaching pastor and leadership, but I really like how our church has handled it in the past few years.
Our preaching pastor says that it is more important to him that the members/attendees of our church give somewhere than for our church to receive funds to meet its budget. Here is a transcript out of the introduction to the first sermon in this series illustrating this point:
“If it really is a problem for you to hear this because you really can’t get over ‘the church just wants my money’ piece, then I would prefer that you hear these messages and respond by giving somewhere else. I genuinely mean that. I would rather you become a generous person and find a ministry that you really believe in and give there. I would rather that happen than for you to let your inability to trust us keep you from becoming a generous person in God’s kingdom. I mean that. I am more concerned with you becoming generous as a disciple of Jesus than I am with you giving here. Maybe one day we will earn your trust and when we do you can give here. But until then, I am fine with you giving somewhere else – I really am. And so the bigger thing for me is that you become somebody who is actually all in with the mission of God and all in with every part of your life.”
Another piece that I think softens the reception of this message is that every so often our preaching pastor states that the church’s budget is doing just fine – that there are enough members who think that the church is a trustworthy recipient of their money that the church doesn’t need money from any particular marginally invested individual. I think this projects confidence and people respond to that by wanting to back (in this case give to) a “winner” (sort of like all this last-minute election polling). This sentiment parallels nicely with the sermon from this past week on 2 Samuel 7 that God doesn’t need our money.
I think putting the emphasis on the Christian’s act of giving (rather than what the church receives) and stating that the church/God doesn’t need your money makes hearing this encouragement to give much easier for the people who haven’t yet invested financially in the kingdom.
What approach does your church (or any other group that you would consider giving to) take to encourage giving? Do you think the stance I outlined above is attractive? Do you give 10% to one or more organizations aside from your church?