Matt Miofsky and Jason Byassee understands the importance of elevating the practice of giving. In their study of rapidly growing churches they offer five bad behaviors that churches must unlearn before they can learn more effective behaviors around giving.
1. Churches don’t talk about money.
Some churches simply stay silent on money. The rationale changes from place to place. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: churches are silent on one of the most important components of discipleship. This hurts not only the people who are seeking to grow in faith, but also the church’s ministry that depends on the faithful practice of generosity.
2. Churches talk about money when they are desperate.
This is usually the result of the first mistake. We never talk about money until we absolutely have to, and by that time, there are usually problems. Ironically, we believe that if we wait until things are desperate enough, this will not only motivate people to give but help them understand why we had to bring it up. Sometimes this works. The budget is met, and money talk goes into hibernation until the whole cycle repeats itself. Increasingly, though, this strategy doesn’t work.
3. Churches only talk about money in connection to giving.
This is another critical error. There are many churches that avoid talking about money except when they need to talk about giving. Every time the congregation hears “money,” they assume you are about to ask them to give it to you. The effect is that they arm themselves with justification and excuses or avoid you altogether. On the practical level, many churches commit this error when they preach and teach about money once a year during stewardship season. Over time, not only do we associate money talk with giving, but we fail to teach the breadth of what scripture challenges people to do with their resources.
A corollary to this mistake is that we associate generosity with giving to the church instead of ministries.
4. We ask new people not to give.
In many ways, trying to correct previous mistakes creates new ones. In fact, this mistake is most often made by newer churches, contemporary churches, or churches trying to connect with new people. Most people do not need to be given permission not to give. They protect their money quite well. The invitation not to give only makes it more difficult later to introduce the practice of generosity.
5. We talk apologetically about giving.
Many churches speak apologetically about giving. We over-explain, offer conditions, and sometimes outright apologize before we ask people to practice generosity. We focus on how hard it is and how tired we know many people are of hearing about giving. We remind them that they do not have to give and talk about giving in sacrificial terms. But being generous helps us grow closer to Christ and leads to greater joy in our lives.
excerpt from a story by Matt Miofsky and Jason Byassee, Leading Ideas website
United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.