Name + role: Denny Hodges, Senior Associate PastorChurch: Church of the HighlandsLocation: Birmingham, AL, USACongregation size: 30k
What’s your giving philosophy?
It’s very straight forward. We believe that the tithe is the Lord’s. Offerings, which are over and above the tithe, are gifts given to enable investment into the vision of the church. We don’t pressure people. We do teach the principle of the tithe and then ask people to listen to God about offerings.
What's the most important thing for givers to understand about their giving?
First that everything they give is managed and invested well. Highlands operates on less than 60% of what is given to the church. This allows us to take advantage of opportunities that God shows us and do it with financial margin.
What's Highlands' strategy for talking about giving on a weekly/monthly basis?
In every service there is an opportunity to give, and we make the heart of giving very clear in that moment. Giving is a form of worship. We encourage our people to bring their first to God, and we guide them by what He says about our attitude toward giving in 2 Corinthians 9:7—not to give under compulsion, but by deciding in your heart what to give and being a cheerful giver. Also, we always let guests know to not feel any pressure to give, but rather tell them this service is our gift to them and the offering is for people who call Highlands home. There are also times during the year that we have a teaching on the principles of the tithe, giving, and finances. We don’t focus on giving every week, aside from the opportunity for people to give as worship at the end of the service.
What are some engagement goals you have around giving?
Our view is that if you present vision of what we could do as a church if we had the resources, people will give to that vision. We let the people set the pace of implementing the vision. As they give, the church can do more.
Are there any specific things you did at Highlands to encourage such a generous culture?
We connect the generous things we do back to the generosity of our people. For instance, we make sure our people know that things other churches might charge for, we offer at no charge because they have already paid for it. For example we don’t charge for coffee, resources such as message notes binders and Bibles, fun giveaways such as worship CDs, our 15th Anniversary coffee mug, ice cream on Father’s Day, and so on. We can generously do all of this because our people generously and faithfully give.
Are there any things you'd warn other pastors abut when it comes to talking about giving with their churches?
Pastors in general should avoid linking giving to need. People don’t want to give to need; they want to give to vision. No one wants to pay the bills. They would rather give to the vision of planting churches, building more space for others to attend church or towards developing new ministry leaders, etc.
Check out other perspectives in Inside the Offering: a pastor-to-pastor interview series about how churches think, teach, and talk about giving.