As a pastor, the first of the year is a busy time for you and the leaders on your staff. It’s the time where you often ask those you serve to reevaluate many of the programs, processes and technology solutions your church uses. Now that we are in February and many of you have either launched new solutions or in the midst of launch, don’t let one of the most important goals your church should be focused on lapse. Remember to focus on the health of your church body.
Church health is a broad category that may consist of various items such as giving, discipleship, small group development, missions and evangelism. For this article, I want to focus particularly on giving and how that directly correlates to the health of your church.
First, let’s look at last year. Were there certain times of the year where giving was solid? Did it peak anywhere? On the contrary, were there times of the year where giving slumped a bit? How many people were in your church the day you received the most tithes and offerings?
Perhaps the most obvious answer for the strongest times of giving each year is Christmas and Easter. But that isn’t always the case. Just because you have more people in your sanctuary on those days doesn’t necessarily correlate to increased giving. With online giving very much in play in churches today, recurring donations can and do occur even if your members aren’t present. Furthermore, what was the attendance like on the day you received the least amount of tithes and offering? Now, take it one step further and ask yourself how people gave on each of those days. On the day your members gave the most, did they give mostly from cash and check or was it through online giving or kiosks at your church? On the day your members gave the least how did they give? Was it mainly online through recurring donations or via cash and check?
To ensure you maintain a healthy church this year, here are some questions to think about.
- Have you ever communicated your expectations? Pastors are called to shepherd their flock. You are called to lead your members well. I sit in churche every Sunday who constantly talk about discipleship, how many individuals they wish to lead to Christ and see baptized this year, how many small groups they want to start, how they want to reach their community, and much more. But I rarely hear the pastor talk to their congregation about their expectations on how the church members should give. It needs to be addressed. The healthiest churches are those where the pastoral staff has expressed their expectations on how members should give based on what the Bible says.
- Does your congregation know about your upcoming plans for the church? Outside of the many committees and the deacons or elders in your church, do your members know what you wish to accomplish and what plans you’ve put in place? How transparent is your staff? When everyone feels like they have all of the information, it goes a long way in building trust with your congregation.
- Have you been explicit in keeping them informed? How often do you keep your members up to date on how healthy or not your church is? Maybe you devote an area in your bulletin for last week’s tithes and offerings, or where you are year to date compared to your budget, but do you go beyond that? How often do you communicate personally to your members in a large group setting like the service on Sunday morning?
- Have you given them enough praise for their generosity? It’s one thing to communicate and be transparent on a regular basis with the members you serve, but do you thank them for heeding to God’s call of biblical stewardship? Make sure you are thanking them and praising them for being obedient.
- Have you ever taught and focused on Biblical giving, not just generosity? Do your members know the difference between theological, Biblical giving and generosity? There is a vast difference. As Christians, we are called to give 10%. That principle is mentioned in the Old Testament. The New Testament doesn’t actually say anything about a 10% minimum, but it does call us to give based on what we earn and what we are able to give. I view theological, Biblical giving as giving our 10% tithe. Anything above and beyond that is an offering. So look at it this way. Tithe = giving. Offering = generosity.
Have you assessed the health of your church lately?