Three Ways to Engage Givers and Increase Giving

If I had to name the biggest leadership struggle currently in the church I serve, I believe I would choose the area of giving. How many of you can relate? It’s not that they’re not generous, most of them are. It’s just that small towns and rural communities typically don’t have as much to give. That’s why we have to do our very best to keep those who are currently giving and find ways to motivate those to give who currently are not.

I’ve read the national average of per person giving in the church is somewhere around $45 per week. We’re doing well if ours is $15 per person.

Which may lead some of you to believe that I may not be the best person to be giving money advice. You may be right, but some of you don’t even know how to calculate your per person giving. So humor me for a minute.

I’m actually quite proud of that $15 per person because for a few years, we were below $10 per person. How many of you know it’s hard to get a lot of ministry done for less than $10 per person? Especially if you’re trying to give people a great experience.

So, how did we make the lucrative jump from $10 to $15? By engaging our givers. Here’s how we did it:

  1. We did a better job of tracking givers. Someone in church leadership needs to know who’s giving and how much. Ideally, that would be the senior pastor, but if that’s not a possibility, then it needs to be someone else in leadership. Why? Because in order to see giving increase, you need to be able to interact with those who are giving.
  2. We started saying thank you. This is one of the easiest things a church can do, yet so few do it. You have people in your church who are helping pay the mortgage, the utilities, and your salary. Make sure you thank them. We send thank you cards out every week to people who are either first time givers or large givers. A large gift for us is $500 and up. If you’re worried about the senior pastor knowing what people give, then don’t give him or her the amounts just give them the names and addresses. Simple as that.
  3. We started celebrating them. Not in front of the church of course, but we’d invite them to events just for them. This year it was a cookout at the pastor’s house. The year before it was coffee and desserts at the church. At these events we would give them information on things coming up at the church to look forward to. Are we giving them special treatment? Kind of, but we figured if we celebrated our volunteers each year with a party, then why wouldn’t we do the same with our givers.

I know a lot of small town pastors and churches are uncomfortable with knowing what people give. And I get it, you don’t want to seem as though you’re treating people differently.

But aren’t you already doing that? The people who teach in your church, do you let anyone teach, or do you only let those who are gifted in teaching? The people serving in kids, do you let anyone serve, or do you have some guidelines? The people who sing, do you let anyone sing, or just those with actual talent? Don’t answer that last one.

What I’m getting at is the church celebrates those with different gifts. There’s no denying that, so don’t forget giving is a gift. Paul talks about it in Romans 12:6-8. So, let us engage with those who have the gift of generosity, and just see if you’re giving doesn’t increase.

Do you know what people give in your church? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know. While you’re here don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss out on tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Ministry Leaders: A How to Guide

Every pastor knows the backbone of any church is the volunteers. You can’t do ministry without them. These men and women who give of their time each and every week are helping point people to Jesus. They’re awesome…if they’re led well. Without good leadership volunteers may actually do more harm than good, which is why many pastors take it upon themselves to lead them. This is a mistake. You and I both know you don’t have the time needed to lead volunteers effectively, which is why you need ministry leaders.

Ministry leaders are leaders of ministries. I bet you figured that out already.

Sometimes they’re paid, but most of the time in smaller churches you can find more than capable volunteers.

Some examples would be the youth pastor, children’s director, or worship leader.

In the church I serve we drill down even further and have leaders who oversee each kid’s ministry area and each guest services area, like the greeting team, parking team, and ushers.

This allows people to use the leadership gifts God has given them, and frees pastors like me and you up to focus on big picture tasks like preaching and vision-casting.

Get the right ministry leaders in place, and your church has a great opportunity to see big time growth this year.

So, what would that look like? What would you need ministry leaders to do?

I’ve narrowed it down to these six things:

  1. Cast Vision – If you’re the senior pastor, you’re the chief vision-caster at your church, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the only one casting vision. Casting vision reminds volunteers that their serving has a purpose. Spending every other week in a room full of toddlers can become overwhelming, but hearing about a child’s mom getting baptized quickly reminds them what they’re doing matters.
  2. Provide Care – I want my ministry leaders to see themselves as shepherds of the volunteers who serve in their area. I want them to know about their families, what’s going on in their lives, and how they’re doing spiritually. They should be their biggest encourager, and include them in their prayer life. The more volunteers a leader oversees, the harder this becomes. That’s why I recommend a leader not oversee more than twelve volunteers.
  3. Recruit Volunteers – A leader who can recruit volunteers is invaluable to a church. A church can never have enough volunteers, and recruiting volunteers from the stage will have diminishing returns. That’s why it’s so important that you have leaders who aren’t afraid to tap a shoulder and start a conversation about serving.
  4. Train Volunteers – Once you recruit a new volunteer, you can’t forget this important step. You need to train them. Many people have quit serving, not because they don’t love Jesus, but because they feel unqualified because they’ve never been trained. Spend a few weeks training them and making sure they’re comfortable in their new position.
  5. Maintain & Order Supplies – Depending on where you serve, this could be a big part of your responsibility or very small. If you lead the area that serves coffee, you better make sure you have coffee each week. If you lead the nursery, make sure you have extra diapers for the mom who forgot her diaper bag. If you don’t have the authority to order the supplies yourself, make sure whoever does knows what you need in plenty of time.
  6. Deal with Conflict – Hopefully as a ministry leader, you won’t have to deal with this much, but you are serving in a church, so you need to be ready to deal with conflict when it comes. This could be a spat between two parents, a volunteer gossiping about another, or a variety of other situations. Your main priority is deescalating the situation. If that’s not possible let your leader know about the situation so they can help handle it.

I’m sure I probably forgot something, so I’d love to know what you would add to this list. Leave a comment and let us know. Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week, and shoot me an email if I can serve you or your church in anyway this year.

Seven Deadly Signs of Church Health

No matter where you live, you don’t have to look far to find an unhealthy church. It seems like they’re everywhere. Some were unhealthy from the very start. Others were healthy, even thriving, at one time yet somewhere along the way, warning signs started to show. The signs of an unhealthy church can be subtle, especially in the beginning, but over time I’ve found that these seven signs come to the surface of every unhealthy church.

  1. No vision to reach those who aren’t followers of Jesus. Most churches would never admit this, and some don’t even realize that they’re guilty of this. Somewhere along the way they lost their vision to reach those who don’t know Jesus. Instead they’ve adopted a vision that focuses on meeting the wants and needs of those inside the church. Once attendance starts shrinking, instead of reaching out, they hold even more tightly to the vision and traditions of the insiders.
  2. No signs of spiritual growth. Healthy churches should see signs of spiritual growth, just like a healthy plant should produce fruit. Are there people beginning a relationship with Jesus? Are they being baptized? Are new people signing up to serve? All of these things are rare in unhealthy churches. Many of them aren’t even measuring these things, because if they did, they would have to ask themselves why their church isn’t producing fruit.
  3. No desire to ever change or improve. I believe it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. With that being said though, if your church is designed to reach an older generation, what do you do when that generation dies off? In most cases, the church dies off too. At some point if what you’re doing as a church isn’t producing the results you want to see, then you need to make a change. And let me say this, if you aren’t focused on making sure children love your church, then your days are numbered.
  4. No one takes ownership. I heard a pastor say this, “Our church has owners not members, because members have rights, but owners have responsibilities.” I love that statement. In unhealthy churches, everybody wants to have a vote, but very few people actually want to do the work required to create a great church. Until you get the church to take ownership, you’ll never get the church healthy.
  5. No real community. Some small town churches do this very well. They have a great family environment where everyone looks after each other. Others offer a fake style of community in which it’s still a family environment, but this family is full of gossip and backstabbing. Have you ever been a part of one of those churches? I think small groups are the best way to foster authentic community, but I’ve also seen other churches use the Sunday School model just as well. The main thing is creating an environment where people can be open and honest about their lives without fear of judgment.
  6. No anticipation of what God might do. Do you remember when you first started reading the Bible? I was twenty years old before I got saved and picked up a Bible, but during that time I was so excited about reading to see how God would speak to me that day. People should come into your church the same way, anticipating what God might speak to them.
  7. No numerical growth. I know there are some circumstances in which numbers don’t tell you the whole story. But in most cases, numerical growth is a great indicator of church health. If the community your church is in is growing yet your church attendance is declining, that’s a sign that your church may be unhealthy. Healthy things are supposed to grow.

Have you ever been part of an unhealthy church? What did that look like? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week. Also, if you want to turn around your small town church, make sure to pick up my new ebook, The Basics: 13 Steps to Turn Around Your Small Town Church free to new subscribers.