Church Giving Audit: Are We Communicating with our Givers Relationally or Transactionally?

Join us over the next two months as we take an honest look at the ways our churches handle the topic of giving with this 5 part Church Giving Audit series. Originally written for Fishhook.


So far, our audit’s asked:

Are we engaging in giving monologues or giving dialogues?

Are these 6 barriers to giving present in my church?

Are we engaging new givers?

How does our giving page stack up?

Our final question to you is this:

When you think about the way you communicate the importance, ways, and impact of giving at your church, do you tend to use more relational or transactional language?

We believe the way you talk about giving plays a big part in how your givers think about giving. You shape their perception of giving as an act of worship that helps fulfill the mission and vision of your church as part of the body of Christ—or, a mandatory requirement that pays the bills.

As churches transition to digital giving solutions, we think it’s more important than ever to reexamine the way we talk about giving in our churches.

Think about what offering baskets tell us about giving: it’s simultaneously communal and personal. Passing from one hand to the next, each individual has the chance to interact, the chance to engage.

Offering baskets are built on trust: no locked drawers, no counting change, no receipts. The beauty of the offering basket is its utter simplicity—you just give. Offering baskets ultimately teach us that giving is a relationship, not a transaction.

But as we know, offering baskets are ill-suited for giving in our digital world.

A growing percentage of people simply don’t carry cash or checkbooks. So when it comes time to pass the offering, there’s a big part of the church that can’t engage. That’s why so many have turned to digital giving solutions to reach their givers again.

With the shift in the way we give to our churches, we must also shift the way we talk about giving in our churches.

If giving's not a transaction, why would we give in the same way we buy a cup of coffee or purchase something off eBay? Why would we talk about giving in the same way we talk about paying our bills or completing a transaction with our banks?

Denny Hodges, an associate pastor at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, underscored the importance of communicating relationally, not transactionally, with your givers. He offers this reminder:

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.

Our challenge to you is this: if you’re talking about giving this week, be intentional about the words you use. Here are some examples of relational vs. transactional words that might help you communicate about giving more effectively:







Text giving, online giving, in-app giving

Bill pay, PayPal, “shopping cart”

Act of worship






The language around giving matters—at every level. Check out our posts on the theology of Smart Giving to learn more!

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We unleash generosity by empowering churches with inspirational, actionable content and Give.Church—a text, in-app, and online giving solution designed to engage new givers.