I like new experiences, and I like to share new experiences with those I care about. So, if I find cool a new technology or a great new restaurant, I talk about them and invite others to try them out with me. So naturally, when I first came to Christ and realized how awesome and inspiring He is, I shared my experience with everyone I could.
One day, I got my best friend to come to church with me. I couldn’t wait for him to experience Jesus the same way I had. As we sat through the music, I prayed for him and was waiting for God to touch his heart. The guest minister, who I’d heard several times deliver amazing messages, took the microphone and started talking about tithing. I got nervous. He stopped a few minutes into his talk and asked the crowd to bow their heads and repent for not giving like they should. This reflection time lasted about 15 minutes. After 5 minutes of quiet, my friend walked out, and I wept. He hasn’t been back to church since. Eventually, I found out that that the lead pastor had shared the churches financial struggles with the guest minister earlier that day.
When I came to Christ, I was all in. I was excited to give my time, energy and money to the work of Christ. As I got older, had kids, and got busier, I found myself struggling to remember to give. My wife and I always set aside money to give, but we’d forget to give some weeks. A few times, we’d wind up a month or two behind on our giving and would panic. We like to give, but remembering to give was a chore. Sometimes, we’d find ourselves in church with diaper bags full of toys, diapers, and snacks but without a check book. Often, we’d have to drive back to church during the week to make sure we gave. A lot of people won’t do this. If they can’t give conveniently, they won’t give.
I’ve learned a few things since then that churches need to know (some may be obvious so bear with me).
1) I know that churches need finances to function, and I believe that God blesses givers.
2) Financial acumen works in churches as much as it does in business. Forecasts and budgets don’t negate faith; they take pressure off of churches and their leaders.
3) Giving is a sensitive subject. It should be handled with great care.
4) People really do want to give. As people created in God’s image, giving is in our nature.
5) People give to vision. They don’t give to need.
6) People like options. No two families are the same. Provide as many ways to give as possible.
7) People don’t carry cash or checks like they used to. Like it or not, people pay things online and with debit or credit cards.
8) People are busy and forgetful. They’ll forget to do things they want to do because modern life is a whirlwind.
One thing churches can do to increase giving and make their budgets more stable is to offer people the chance to set up recurring giving.
1) Work for young people. Many people never see a paycheck it’s deposited right in their account. Their bills are set to auto-pay.
2) Make giving convenient and consistent. Many people don’t give when they miss church. A recurring gift helps people remember to give even when their out of town.
3) Don’t have to be large. Encourage people to give $5, $10 or $20 a month. They can set them up to process right after their paychecks show up in their account.
4) Grow over time. As people make more, they’ll give more. Encourage people to revisit their accounts regularly.
5) Let churches forecast their budgets. When churches know what’s coming in, they can plan where it goes.
6) Are easy with the right ChMS. Realm and it’s Connect App make mobile giving and recurring giving easy. They give people control over their giving wherever they happen to be.
Recurring gifts are the no-brainer giving option for churches. All of them should offer this ability to their people. Talk about recurring giving on your website, membership classes, and among your leaders. Use a ChMS that’s simple and easy to use. Provide printed instructions at your welcome booth. The rest, is up to your members.
How do you encourage recurring giving at your church?