Church Giving During COVID: Reasons for Optimism
God’s people are still giving, churches are learning from this pandemic, and God is still faithful.
October 26, 2020
Hopefully, you never hit this spot—but sometimes you have to go figure out why people in church aren't giving. So let's talk a little bit about figuring out why people aren't giving, why you might be seeing a decline in giving, those kinds of things.
Things happen, giving drops, and becoming good at evaluating what's going on and figuring out the why behind it so that you can alter course, make some adjustments, and get giving to turn back around and hopefully start increasing is really important. Although the church isn't here to make money, it's here to do ministry and pastor people and love people and care for people, you need money to fulfill that mission.
You need money to keep the lights on. You need money to pay staff. You need money to put on programs. You need money to send kids to camp. You need money for all of these things. So it's really important to be able to dig in.
When did giving start dropping? That is predicated on understanding your giving. Hopefully, you're tracking your giving month by month so that you can look back and you can say: "Okay, here's how giving's gone." But you can see clearly, for example, in February of 2019 you saw giving begin to drop—and now it's dropped for five months in a row and you can watch that trend.
Now that you know the date that church giving started dropping, ask yourself: “Did anything change at church? Was there a ministry position change? Did the senior pastor get replaced? Did something significant happen in the life of the church?”
In times of change, people get uncertain. They question what's going on. Like it or not, sometimes people speak with their pocket books. They feel hesitant and so might stop giving for a little bit until things kind of pick back up. Figure out when it started dropping, and then quickly evaluate: Did anything happen?
If giving stopped in February, was there anything that happened in February that made giving go down? The other thing to think about is this: Did anything happen in the ministry, with the staff, or in the life of the church?
The other part to evaluate is this: Did anything happen with the membership? Did somebody move out? Did you plant another church out of your church? Were there things where the membership or the people kind of declined in number for some reason that caused that drop?
Oftentimes, especially in a smaller church, it could be that a significant family moved out. Maybe there was a job situation or a family wanted to move closer to work, which can cause a hit to your giving. That'd be something to take note of. Again, know when it started dropping. Check within the church and the staff and the leadership. Then check the membership to see if anything happened there.
Just ask people. Ask your church.It can be an anonymous survey. Create a simple Survey Monkey form with three quick questions to help you take the temperature of the issue among your members. You could even state to the church: "Hey, we've seen a little drop in giving recently and we're trying to figure out what's going on. We'd love for you to fill out this anonymous survey to get some feedback. We want to hear from you guys. We don't want you to feel pressure that we'd know who you are and your comments, but we want real feedback. So please fill out this anonymous survey."
Capture that feedback. Ask your people: “What's going on?”
You also need to talk to your leadership team, staff and volunteers alike. Having a real conversation with people is important. Say: "Hey, giving's gone down for a few months and we're trying to figure out what's going on, and we want your insight." Talk to your leadership team, especially your small group leaders and your kind of key volunteer leadership folks to see what's going on. See what they'll share with you from their perspective. Talking to your leadership as part of asking people is important. It can be a bit more one-on-one, but you want to talk with your leadership team and small group leaders.
People give to things that they're passionate about, that they feel connected with, and where there's a vision of where you're headed.
I'm going to give as a Christian because I feel called to give from the Scriptures. I'm going to be a generous person. I want to raise a generous family. I want to help the mission, I want to help fund people becoming Christians and the Gospel being spread. On top of that, having a vision and feeling excited about your church and what's going on is a big part of how people give.
Ask your leadership team: “Are we excited about what's going on? Is that excitement kind of oozing out of us into our people? Is there a vision for where we're headed? Am I communicating that vision effectively from stage? Is it something where people feel connected to it?” If there's a drop in giving and you've checked that there is a clear, compelling vision that my people are on board with, then you’re on the right path to getting giving back up.
Sometimes it helps to get outside eyes. I remember being at a conference with a larger mega-church and I was really inspired by what their senior pastor said. He said: "Anytime we see some kind of issue within the church ministry, giving, finances, technology, whatever it is, we have a team that looks internally and we have a team that goes externally and goes out and looks at other churches, and sees what they're doing.” Getting external eyes on what you’re doing is crucial. You could invite a healthy and thriving church to come look at what you're doing, critique what you're doing, and give you tips and pointers to help the church grow.
Again, find out when your church giving started dropping. See if there are any significant events in the church that occurred. See if there are any people who moved away. Ask your congregation, ask your leadership, do a self evaluation and reflection, and then get some external help. If you implement those strategies, you're going to figure out why giving is dipping and come out of it with some reasons and insights into how to get that trend to turn around.
Read the full blog of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/is-your-church-giving-in-decline-do-this
Today on Modern Church Leader, our Tithe.ly COO Frank Barry explains what to do if your church’s giving has dropped, and how to grow your giving as soon as possible.
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