Health and Growth

6 Bible Study Topics to Boost Your Attendance

Many people don't come to your church's Bible study. You can change that. Use these six Bible study topics to boost your attendance and engagement.

6 Bible Study Topics to Boost Your Attendance
by

Paul Maxwell

Why isn’t there a thriving Bible study culture in your church?

It’s simple:

People will show up for Bible studies that add value to their lives.

People will stop showing up for Bible studies that don’t add value to their lives.

There is a high chance that if your church members don’t like the Bible study topics you choose, it’s because they didn’t see the value. That’s a bad sign.

Here’s some good news for you:

You can build Bible studies that attract people and build sermon engagement.

First, I’m going to give you three small tactics to change your Bible study culture. Then, I’m going to give you a go-to list of Bible study ideas that will attract members and build community.

What not to do in a Bible study

Before you add anything to your Bible study, you need to make sure you’re not making these common mistakes that keep attendance low.

1. Don’t treat your bible study as a small group

Many churches treat Bible studies and small group Bible studies as the same thing—a recurring social get-together where Christians chat about life (and maybe the Bible). That’s called “small group.”

A Bible study is focused.

A Bible study is about something.

A Bible study informs people.

Think of it this way:

A Bible study is like learning how to exercise from a personal trainer. A small group is like going to the gym and applying that knowledge to your routine.

A Bible study is meant to be a focused engagement on understanding what God says. A small group is meant to help Christian communities apply what God says in personal, case-specific situations.

If you blend the two into a single meeting, no one will continue to show up. People who want to understand God’s word will think the meeting is too fluffy and social. People who want to build community will think the meeting is too stuffy and intellectual.

Keep your bible study a Bible study. Keep your small group a small group.

If you do this, you’ll increase attendance at both.

2. Don’t always focus your Bible study topics on a single book   

Here’s a great way to cut your Bible study attendance in half:

Call your Bible study “The book of Romans.”

All the cerebral people will love it. No one else will come.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a Bible study on the book of Romans. It means that you should pick a theme in Romans—for example, “Forgiveness”—and make the Bible study idea about that.

Then, share a 12-week schedule on how you will study the theme that is secretly structured by the book of Romans.

For example:

  • Week 1: The need for forgiveness (Romans 1)
  • Week 2: Our attempt to earn forgiveness (Romans 2)
  • Week 3: How God forgives us (Romans 3)
  • Week 4: How we receive God’s forgiveness (Romans 4)
  • Week 5: How deep our need for forgiveness goes (Romans 5)
  • Week 6: How to become a forgiving person (Romans 6-7)
  • Week 7: How to share God’s forgiveness (Romans 8)
  • Week 8: God’s plan of forgiving sinners (Romans 9-11)
  • Week 9: How to forgive our enemies (Romans 12)
  • Week 10: Forgiveness and the government (Romans 13)
  • Week 11: Forgiveness and difference of opinion (Romans 14)
  • Week 12: The goal of forgiveness: Personal relationship (Romans 15-16)

Notice how the natural flow of the biblical text moves from theory to practice. The Apostle Paul understands that cerebral people need biblical knowledge and Christlike love. Paul also understands that practically minded people need a biblical understanding of love and foundations for that love.

Just because you’re studying a text, that doesn’t mean you have to say “We’re studying the text.”

Study the biblical text. But when you invite people to attend the Bible study, showcase its practical application by ...

… sharing the central theme ...

… and sharing the entire outline for the study.

This will Bible study topic will interest people, because people are interested in having value added to their lives. If you can show people the value by getting specific about what exactly you’ll be studying, they will be interested.

3. Provide snacks and drinks for attendees

Many Bible study organizers make Bible study as unattractive as possible.

“Show up. Study. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t eat. Don’t drink.”

Most Bible studies are attractive to robots, not real, flesh-and-blood human beings.

If the Bible is worth studying, then the studying is worth catering.

Get a fruit tray. Get plates. Get forks and knives. Get a little meat/cheese plate.

Build interest around your Bible study lesson.

Build buzz around your weekly cheese plate.

Interest + buzz = Bible study attendance growth.

It’s science.

Bible study ideas to boost engagement

Here’s the truth:

People don’t just want information from a Bible study.

People want Bible studies that apply to their lives.

These Bible study ideas will help your church to deeply understand modern issues through a biblical lens.

1. Money

Most Christians have a very mixed relationship with money.

The poor want more money.

The rich struggle to know how to use it responsibly.

Everybody feels guilty about wanting more.

Especially in church—most people just feel guilty when they don’t put enough in your church offering. The church’s culture of addressing financial issues is odd.

Here’s the good news:

Your church can create a healthy culture of addressing financial issues that is based on the Bible and aimed toward helping people create financial freedom and become generous.

Explore this article on Bible verses about money as the place to develop a good Bible study lesson  on money that can rescue your church from an awkward relationship with money.

2. Tithing

People are often confused about how to give to their church. What access should they have to the church’s financial documents? What do they get from giving? Is it okay to tithe with time and talents instead of money?

Take the confusion out of tithing and overcome common barriers members have to partnering in God’s mission of disciple-making through the church.

Use this article to construct your Bible study on tithing.

Pro tip: Don’t make it a guilt trip about giving. Make it an opportunity to educate Christians on how economic generosity is an essential component of one’s spirituality—of their walk with Christ.

3. Leadership

Most people who attend Bible studies are highly motivated to self-improve. These Christians are likely in leadership positions outside the church.

Kill two birds with one stone.

Enrich your members’ knowledge of the Bible and make them better and more ethical businessmen and businesswomen. This will increase their witness for Christ in the workplace.

Use these articles to build your Bible study on leadership”

Pro tip: Leaders give.

Leaders are generous. When you teach your church members a biblical perspective on leaders, you are teaching them that people who want to lead in the church give to the church.

4. Business

America is moving toward a “gig economy,” and many people have a side hustle.

This means that most young people are entrepreneurs who own their own businesses and do fee-for-service freelance work.

Teach a Bible study on how biblical wisdom guides best business practices, work ethic, and Christian witness in a changing and uncertain marketplace.

Use this article to build your Bible study on business.

Pro tip: This topic, in particular, will attract a lot of young people.

5. Stewardship

People are blinded by toys.

Marketing is getting better and better, and people are more and more inclined to spend money on themselves.

Teach a Bible study on how having a “stewardship” philosophy of money can free people of self-obsession and build a healthier relationship with money and material possessions.

Use this article to build your Bible study lesson on stewardship.

6. Technology

Lastly, do a Bible study on technology.

You might think that this would draw a young crowd, but this will more likely draw an older crowd. Boomer and “Greatest Generation” Christians have high biblical literacy, but low technological literacy.

Bridge that gap for them.

Teach a balanced perspective that helps people to gain confidence in using technology that rescues people from old-school Luddism and new-school tech-obsession.

Use this article to build your Bible study on technology.

Pro tip: Update yourself (with this article) with the latest tech trends that are changing how churches work.

Themost important factor in Bible study growth

There is one factor that will either cause your bible study attendance to explode or die:

Your church management software.

Are you stuck using a “Gmail thread”?

Are you relying on “church announcements” every Sunday?

Even worse—an ever-expanding text-thread?

If you rely on these methods as your primary modes of communication, your Bible study will not substantially grow.

Here’s the good news:

You can use a church management software (like Tithe.ly’s ChMS) that schedules your Bible study, allows people to register through your church-specific app, and sends push notifications and emails to all interested members.

People don’t look at their “FYI” emails.

People don’t read 5+ unread message group-threads (and they’re annoying).

People do look at push notifications and they don’t find them annoying.

Use Tithe.ly’s ChMS at your church to rapidly increase member engagement, Bible study attendance, and the efficiency of your church.

Your members will really appreciate it, and it is a more excellent and efficient way to steward the resources of the church and carry out Christ's call to rightly handle God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15) and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20).

Get your church using Tithe.ly’s ChMS church management software today. It’s easy to sign up, and it will make your life and ministry much easier.  

Author: Paul Maxwell, Ph.D., is the Content Strategist at Tithe.ly. He lives in Fishers, IN with his beautiful wife and rowdy wheaten terrier.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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6 Bible Study Topics to Boost Your Attendance