Online giving, mobile giving apps, and text to give… all new and game-changing technologies that have had a big impact on the Church, but let’s not forget that “the offering” has been occurring in churches for over 130 years. It started in the late 19th century (~1880) and has remained the chief method of church funding since that time.
It’s an important moment as it’s …
- A litmus test of our heart – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21)
- Part of showing our love and devotion for God – “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12: 41-44)
- A spiritual discipline we should grow in – “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” (2 Corinthians 8: 7)
- Part of our commitment to community – “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2: 45)
- Part of missions and spreading the Gospel of Jesus – “I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)
Regardless of the method of giving (passing the plate, online, mobile, or text), there is or should be a moment in every church service where members have an opportunity to give. The plate may be going obsolete, but the moment is critical.
That said, although the offering moment isn’t going away, it is evolving a bit. With that in mind, let’s dig into how to have an effective offering in 2017.
1. Be Bold
Jesus teaches us to be Bold. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7)
Jesus is teaching on several different topics in Matt 7 – judgment, the golden rule, and much more. Then he makes his way into a beautiful example of being bold and how we should approach getting what we want. You just have to ask!
You might be asking God for something or you might be asking man for something, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get a thing.
Pastors, I implore you to ask people to give! Do it boldly and do it often.
The likes of Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart have no problem asking your church members to buy their products. Why are you so afraid to ask your members to do what the bibles teaches them to do?
2. Plan It
You know the saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
You probably have plan for your church service, an agenda, but does it include a moment where you encourage financial giving? Are you planning for that moment and preparing for it to be awesome?
I grew up in the charismatic stream and a service could last for 1-3 hours but even in that kind of free flow style of church there was always a guide to what and when things were going to happen. Worship could go long, the preaching could go 10 minutes over, communion could be extending, but there was always an offering moment. It was in the plan.
The point here is that you MUST have an offering moment in the plan. It can be a one sentence moment, it can be a bible verse, it can be a mini sermon but it must be planned for and in the schedule.
3. Use Scripture
I probably don’t need to educate you on the Biblical call to giving and generosity.
You know what the bible says so why aren’t you using the words of Jesus, Paul, Malachi, Moses and just about every other bible author?
Let the bible do the talking and you’ll be speaking the truth every time. Here are 10 Bible verses on generosity and giving if you’re looking for inspiration.
4. Have A Script
Speaking of using scripture, having a script for the giving moment is a good idea.
Here’s a sample of what I often used for over thirty years of taking up offerings when I was a Pastor.
“Good morning church and welcome. Wasn’t that time of worship powerful. Right now, we are going to continue worshiping the Lord with our giving. Look to the screen (bulletin) to see the ways in which you can give today. There are envelopes in the back of the seats or you can give via the church app or use our text giving number. (instructions on screen or in bulletin).”
Read bible verse about generosity, tithing, offerings, sacrifice.
Expand on the verses(s) for 2-3 minutes, keeping the verses in context and encouraging people to believe what the bible says.
“Before we pray over our offering today I want to thank you for your continued generosity and sacrificial giving to our church. You are sowing seed into good soil, and we appreciate it very much and never take it for granted.”
Pray for the offering.
This is just one example of how to outline your offering moment. There are countless other options and a lot of great teaching on the topic. The point here is that having a well thought through and pre written offering script will help you deliver it with boldness and faith.
5. Tell Stories
If you want to take it up a notch, find those great stories of people who have given to your church and have them share their personal stories with the church in the offering moment.
This likely can’t be done every week, but what if you planned a special offering once a quarter where you have a individual or family share their story and let the church know how giving has enriched their lives?
The idea is to make it a real moment, real people giving real money, really being obedient to scripture and the blessings that flow from such generosity.
6. Account for Mobile Giving
These days people aren’t simply putting cash or check into a plate as it comes around.
Some have auto recurring giving already set up. Some give through the church mobile giving app or text during the offering moment. Some giving online during the month when they’re managing their finances.
The point here is to briefly educate and acknowledge all forms of giving. Two things are important here:
- Educate: Make sure you let people know that they can give in the plate or through your mobile giving app.
- Acknowledge: You can quickly thank people for their generosity and say something like “Whether you gave in the plate or through our mobile app, we’re grateful for your sacrifice.”
Doing this helps people feel safe and breaks down some of the stigma around not “putting something into the plate”. It builds confidence in those who are giving online and also serves as a way to educate others on that method of giving.
In addition to the above, some churches have created cards that people can put into the offering plate. These cards simply state “I gave online” and act as a way for members to participate in the moment and not “feel the eyes looking at them” when they don’t put something in the plate.