It can be hard to ask for money. Surprisingly, even pastors have a hard time talking about tithes and offerings. Money is a delicate subject, and there is a right and wrong way to talk about tithing.
Asking also depends on timing, because well, as they say, timing is everything. If you are a pastor, it is our hope that this definitive guide will provide you with insight as to how to go about discussing tithes – the right way.
As a pastor or other church staff member, the thing you are most likely concerned about when talking about tithes is doing it without making your members feel uncomfortable or pressured. You probably also want your members to feel empowered to help the church spread its mission. Unfortunately, however, there are some not-so-great ways to ask for tithes too.
Here are some things you don't want to do when asking for tithes and offerings from your church members:
Telling Them It's Urgent
Even if the church really did sustain a sudden leak in the roof, telling your church members they need to give because it's urgent can cause more harm than good. That's because when everything is urgent, nothing is urgent.
It becomes white noise without any differentiation. Not only that, you may be accidentally be using a "guilt trip" to motivate your members to give. Your congregation understands that your church has needs––they know about the realities of paying for maintenance and upkeep. But when you frame everything as an announcement of urgency, it can be overwhelming and even pesky. People will stop listening, and worse yet, giving altogether.
Instead of everything being urgent, plan ahead for financial situations, and be proactive about organizing your church’s spending as far ahead as possible.
Not Being Clear
Your members want to contribute, but if all you’re saying is “Please give, it’s Christmas” they will have no idea what really that means. Instead try, “Please give to the shoebox ministry. This will send small gifts to kids who are growing up in a broken home. These gifts will allow them to feel special and loved." Think of how involved and moved your congregation can feel knowing what their money is going toward.
Also, don’t be afraid to share the details of your church’s projects and how giving fuels your mission. Rather than just asking them to help “fix the lights,” tell them those new nursery lights will cost $500. Think of how personally touched you would feel knowing that your gift brought the church that much closer to keeping the lights on (literally) in the nursery.
However you choose to share that information, the end goal is to make the story of your ask as clear and specific as possible so that your members can feel the impact of their tithes and offering.
Straying Off Message
Sometimes it may seem like your church is supporting something that’s a bit random or just a bit different from what you normally support. For example, maybe you would like to ask your rural church congregation to donate to a cause in the inner city. If your church typically supports causes in the suburbs or your rural area, this new request will seem like a departure from its mission.
Of course, you know the purpose for this new cause. But to your church donors, it might seem like it's coming out of left field and is unrelated to your mission of supporting your local community. To show that you're not straying off message, tell your members why it’s not so random and how they have been called upon by God to help spread the message outside your direct neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to use your website to spread the word about these ties and connections to help them connect the dots!
Not Mentioning It At All
Your church members can’t just read your mind and know the church needs money for specific missions or projects. Many of your members will be regular donors already, as a response to God’s love and provision in their lives. However, if your leadership never offers opportunities for giving, your church funding will likely stay pretty static.
It’s ok, even necessary, to keep the needs and opportunities of your church and it’s ministries in front of your congregation. Mention both in person and online giving, and don’t shy away from mentioning it often. Not asking also fails to give your members an opportunity to grow in generosity.
Not Being Engaging
It can be unnerving asking for money from your church ––you don’t want to ask in poor taste or too often or play into unhealthy motives. But if you’re not willing to engage with the purpose behind the request, you may not tell the most compelling story of the needs and opportunities in front of your congregation. Not giving your church members the information they deserve or not showing the value behind their donations can, over time, build distance between you and your church members and discourage them from giving in the future.
When asking for money from your church, don’t hold back on the stories of gratitude. Explain how much their giving means, tell the success story of what will be done, and explain the Gospel impact of the project. You can also show that it’s very easy to give, and above all, answer any questions they might ask you about where the money goes!
Along with knowing how NOT to talk about tithes, remember timing really is everything.
So how do you find the perfect time to talk about tithes and offerings? One way to do it involves your church website. You can also use your church newsletter as a perfect opportunity to talk about the importance of tithes and offerings. Besides that, you can inspire members to give simply by including an opportunity to do so right in your sermon. To give you a better understanding, we’re going to break these ideas down a little bit further.
Use Your Church Website
Whether you realize it or not, you probably have certain pages on your website that naturally inspire people to give. For instance, you might have a Missions Page that highlights upcoming mission trips. When visitors land on these pages, they might not be able to go on the trip, but they still want to help fund it. This would be a perfect opportunity to place a call to give on your Missions Page.
Placing more "give now" buttons on your website also presents visitors with the perfect opportunity to give. When trying to decide where to strategically place your giving buttons, it's really all about using the space on your church website effectively to show them how and where they can give. One word of caution: be careful not to put too many “give” buttons on your site or you might come off as pushy. Walk the fine line between making it easy and convenient for donors to give, and making them feel pressured or uncomfortable.
Use Your Church Newsletter
Along with your website, you can use your church newsletter as an opportunity to inspire your members to give. In fact, using your church newsletter can actually increase contributions by 20%.
One way to increase tithes and offering by using your newsletter is to include a story from your community. These stories might spur your members into action and inspire them to contribute to the church. Here are just a few examples of stories you might want to include in the newsletter:
- An upcoming church event
- A local family in need
- Your annual mission trip
- Relief for natural disaster victims
If it's appropriate, give your reader an opportunity to give to your church by inserting a give button or a call to action (CTA) in the email you use to send the newsletter. Reminding your members—in as many words—that they can give online is also something you will want to do in your newsletter.
Provide Opportunities During Your Sermon
You can also provide opportunities to give during sermons and events. If your congregation wants to give during an inspiring sermon, your pastor can mention your church's text-to-give capabilities. And, your congregation can act right on the spot to pull out their phones and give. Talk about perfect timing!
Finally, one more "right way" to talk about tithing is to inspire your members to give by placing the following Bible verses on the giving page of your website, in your church newsletter, or include one or two of them in your next sermon.
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
2 Corinthians 9:6
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."
"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."
"Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’"
2 Corinthians 9:7
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
"Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops."
These passages suggest it's always in your members’ best interest to give. When it comes to their tithes and offering, it's not even really about money, it's more about increasing their faith and growing closer to the heart of God.