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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Giving, and How to Encourage it

A year or so ago in board meeting a member asked, “Why we don’t do as well in our regular giving as we do with Faith Promise?” I didn’t answer very well due to a lack of preparation, but I’ve thought about it a great deal since then and in a recent staff meeting, when asked a similar question, I shared very candidly. I thought it might be helpful to share here, what I have learned through the years about teaching people to give.
 I recently read a book that helped me find words to describe what I have been doing through years of teaching stewardship. The title is Primal Leadership, learning to lead with Emotional Intelligence, by Boyatzis and McKee. They explain the difference between resonance (harmony) and dissonance (discord) in leadership. The first inspires followers, but the second discourages them and may even create deserters.

People respond better to encouragement, praise, and other positive stimuli than they do to need, emergency, guilt, criticism, or other negative stimuli.

Negative stimuli actually discourage giving even when used to ask people to give. In an old familiar joke the preacher says ‘The good news is we have enough money to meet our budget! The bad news is it’s still in your pockets.’ When I first heard it, I laughed, but it is the worst possible joke if you want good results. Such put-down humor hurts and it especially hurts giving. It doesn’t make people feel like giving. It makes us hold on tight to our money because we know dissonant means are being used. We may not know the word, but we know the feeling and none of us like it.

The best way to get people to give is first, teach biblical concept of tithes and offerings, or biblical stewardship. Secondly, let the Holy Spirit convict their hearts. Do not, under any circumstances, try to do the work of the Spirit to create that conviction. When we try to do his work we always do it badly and it often comes across as condemnation, which is not a godly work. Finally, when people give, leaders should give the congregation encouragement and praise for a job well done. Even if they are not doing as good as they should, if they give anything that should be openly appreciated by those in leadership. With consistence, in different ways and with positive words, and if done with tact and love over time, this will build a strong, financially healthy congregation of generous, happy people.

Here are some other important points:

1. Offerings are an important part of worship. The way offerings are received at many churches announces they are not important. Some offering statements even imply we’re ashamed to ask, but we need the money, etc. Offerings should be acts of worship, adoration and praise, to God. Whoever came up with the idea of saying “This offering is just for the home folks and if you’re a visitor you don’t need to give” has wasted time and insulted God by saying something they have no right to say. What if God is telling one of those visitors to give? How do we know he isn’t?

2. Teach about giving before every offering. A short comment or prayer such as, “When we give generously we are most like God.” Or, “Giving our tithe to the church is our way to recognize every good thing comes from God.” These and other such positive reinforcements week after week builds resonance (harmony) within the church and with biblical living, and produces people who give tithes and offerings, generously, and happily.

3. Pray for God to anoint the offering. Just as we pray for salvation, sermons and worship, we can also pray God will bless church giving. God wants to bless. The prayer of faith is his method.

4. Offerings should be well received. Worship Leaders have other things to think about and almost never give offerings the time they deserve. Pastors, or whoever receives the offerings should be trained in how to give a warm and positive encouragement to give as God directs. Time should be given to do the offertory well—with the dignity required for an act of worship and devotion to the most High God. People will never give enough to the church, but they will give to God. They just need to be inspired so they give from a heart bursting with the joy of the Lord.

I'm Rick Blumenberg . . . and that's My View from Tanner Creek.


Anonymous said...

Rick: Have you done Financial Peace University? If not, let me lend you lesson 13: The Great Misunderstanding. Dave has some great teaching on this subject.

Elden Portice

Rick Blumenberg said...

Thanks Eldon.
No I haven't taken the class. I've read one of Dave's books and listened to him a lot on radio. I'd be glad to see chapter 13.