Church Giving Audit: Do we have these 6 barriers to giving at our church?

Join us over 5 months as we take an honest look at the way we handle a sometimes uncomfortable topic: giving in the Church. Originally written for Fishhook 


Last month, we asked you whether your church engages in giving monologues or giving dialogues. Here’s another question: Have you ever thought about the barriers that may make it difficult for someone to give to your church?


Informed by Barclay’s white papers, Redbird research, and anecdotal experience serving 1,200+ churches, we’ll offer 6 common barriers to giving—and a suggestion to minimize the negative effect of each. While not all will be true of your church, some of these pain points might strike a chord.  


1. “I love our church and I’d love to give more, but I’d really like to know where my money’s going first.” >> Missing transparency

Just like any other investment, proper due diligence is essential before many will consider giving—even to their own church. Just because God calls us to give doesn't mean the churches who steward that money should expect people to give before establishing where their gifts will go and how they will be used. A third of all people surveyed in a recent study didn’t give because they didn’t know exactly how the money would be allocated.


Suggestion: If you aren’t currently, compile comprehensive year end giving statements and periodic or quarterly impact reports. A commitment to transparency—both qualitatively and quantitatively—demonstrates a deep respect for the gifts (and givers!) you steward on God’s behalf.


2. “I want to give, but by the end of the month, it’s either groceries or a gift to the church” >> Poor money management

Many well-intentioned people recognize they should give and may even want to give, but sometimes, because they lack basic financial training, they don’t have the margin to make it happen. A startling 71% of those who don’t give said they couldn’t afford to do so.


Suggestion: Invest in teaching and training your congregation with the financial principles found throughout Scripture. Some of the churches we serve found Andy Stanley’s Balanced or courses by Crown Financial Ministries very helpful.  


3. “We only have two ways to give—and I can’t use either!” >> Insufficient ways to give

Some only carry cash or check, but others never do—if that’s the case, you may be unintentionally excluding people from the offering.


Suggestion: Consider what other options you can add that will invite everyone to worship God with their gifts, whether through cash, check, direct deposit, text, online, or in-app giving.


4. “I already give 10%—I’m good to go!” >> Too many mirrors

You are your own worst enemy. Have you ever heard that expression? Sometimes we become complacent in our giving, feeling like we’ve fulfilled our duty once we’re consistent. Up to 65% don’t give because they are content with their previous gifts. Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church describes this effect with striking clarity:


"Getting people who give 1-2% of their wages to see that as a small starting point to generosity is a huge challenge. And when people get stuck at 8-10%, they tend to see that as the finish line, not the starting line.”


Suggestion: Issue a challenge to the givers of your church—if you’re giving a certain amount, try increasing it by one percentage point and keep it there. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that generosity is an on-going journey, not a destination.


5. “I know I should give, but I don’t understand why it really matters.” >>  Lack of buy-in

Some in your church may understand on a theoretical level why they should give, but they don’t feel the weight of that responsibility on an individual basis. If you haven’t adequately communicated our place in God’s redeeming work as He restores the earth, it may be difficult for people to buy-in, connecting the impact their gifts may make to the work God’s doing in the world.


Suggestion: Take a look at the language you use to communicate the needs of your church and assess whether you intentionally draw out the connection between God’s redemptive work and our faithfulness to give.


6. "You didn’t ask! How was I supposed to know?” >> Unclear communication

Sometimes we get so caught up in budget shortfalls or are so desperate to increase giving that we forget to actually ask, “Would you consider giving to ___________ this week?” Maybe it stems from feelings of awkwardness when you talk about money—or maybe you didn’t think you needed to articulate what seems obvious to you: the church needs money to run!


Suggestion: Sit down with your staff and think through how you talk (or don’t talk!) about giving with your congregation. Spend time pulling together a communication strategy and stick with it.


Along with the communication experts at Fishhook, we’d love to help you address each of these barriers to giving. One of the easiest places you can start is by leaning in to our on-going conversation with some of the most influential pastors in the nation. We look at how they think, teach, and talk about giving.


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