How to Make a Church Giving Appeal During COVID
Use these strategies to craft a highly compelling church offering during a difficult time.
September 8, 2020
Making a giving appeal every Sunday can feel a bit like preaching the same sermon every week.
Every church is different.
They range from “Please place your envelopes in the plate” to a 5-minute reflection on the Bible’s teaching on tithing.
Either way, it’s hard to make the same message really appeal to the heart without believing your congregants to click off their minds and think: “We get it. You want our money.
But the truth is neither to lean into the same stale routine every Sunday, nor to make the giving appeal a second sermon. The truth is somewhere in the middle. People pay attention to things that are fresh. Fresh ideas. Fresh vegetables. Fresh giving appeals.
That’s the magic middle-ground where, if you go there, your congregants will be willing to meet you. And that middle ground is a brief giving appeal (30-90 seconds) that recruits the same serious homiletical preparation as your sermon, but frames giving in some new way.
That means, if you make a giving appeal 50 Sundays a year for 20 years, that’s 2000 fresh takes on giving! Yes, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Just like you’ll preach 2000 sermons with at least one fresh idea.
To get you started, here are 20 unique tithes and offering messages you can use for any scenario—Sunday service, pot lucks, and mid-week gatherings alike.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)
Giving is not just about sacrifice. It is God’s way of ritually introducing us into the flow of sowing and reaping that is the subcurrent of his creation. Participate in the harvest that God has for us by sowing your gift with him today.
“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
Where is your heart when you come to church? Is it in your family? Is it on your wealth? Is it on your limitations? I want to invite you today to sow an eternal legacy by giving to God from the treasures that you cannot take with you.
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
The first law of thermodynamics states that matter cannot be created or destroyed. There is a similar moral principle in the Bible about good and evil. What you put out into God’s creation will bring a return for good or evil. What you add to the wellbeing of life on earth, you receive back in fulfillment. What you take and scratch and steal will be taken, scratched, and stolen back.
God desires to multiply that good through us now while we’re on earth. That’s why he created the church. So I’d like to ask of you, today, to give because that’s why God created you — to enjoy him and to bring that joy to others.
“A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.” (Proverbs 18:16)
God knows the power of a gift. That’s why he didn’t institute a “church tax.” He wanted every gift to be given from one’s own will so that when the blessings come, we understand how God worked through our gift to prosper our wellbeing.
You have a moment of opportunity to be ushered into the presence of God by giving to him, as he so graciously has given to us. Will you enter into the presence of God with me by worshipping him through a gift?
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
In important ways, money is power. God has more power than anyone. He shares it with us freely so that we can experience this wild and interesting life with him. Part of that life is the life of the church. And to be in vital communion with God and in alignment with his mission, we care for our members and our community. I ask that you would give to that care now so that God’s power can flow through us to heal the broken in our church and community.
“You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
God gives us the blessing of being able to work, earn, save, spend, and accumulate wealth. We do this for our children. We do this for our community. We do this for ourselves. But we also do it to honor God as faithful stewards. And as stewards, we joyfully worship God each Sunday by giving back to him from what we have earned so that the church can do meaningful work for God’s kingdom in the world. Would you join me in worshipping God as faithful stewards through giving?
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Have you ever listened to someone that makes you think: “Wow. They get it!” Maybe it’s a podcaster who articulates your political views very well, or a book that explains you better than you could explain yourself. But we all know what it’s like to love finding someone else who gets it, whatever it is.
God loves everybody. But what he loves about a cheerful giver is that they get it. They get the connection between spiritual growth and generosity. They get that giving is itself a blessing to the giver. They get it. Not that those who aren’t in a position to give don’t get it. But there are far more of those who can and don’t, and those who think they can’t, but probably could.
To both of you, God says: “I love a cheerful giver!”
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Psalm 119:36)
It’s interesting how the Psalmist contrasts God’s testimonies with selfish gain. Note, too, that there is no contrast between gain and God’s testimonies—only selfish gain.
But what makes something selfish? For the Psalmist, it has to do with the heart, since he prays “Incline my heart … not to selfish gain!” The physical heart can do many things, but the spiritual heart does a few big things. One thing is to hold or release.
When you think of your money, does your heart hold or release? If it can release, it’s not selfish gain. If it can’t, it might be lingering beneath the surface.
One way God helps us fight against grasping so tightly onto our money that it gets in the way of God’s testimonies to us is to give to the church. God tells us to do it, and he knows it’s an ailment for hearts that are often inclined toward selfishness. Would you release your heart today and give to God as we incline our heart toward his testimonies?
“All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.” (Proverbs 21:26)
Speaking of the wicked man, the book of Proverbs tells us that his craving lasts “all day long.” It means when he goes to work, he “craves for more.” That’s natural. You want your endeavors to succeed.
Then he goes home, and he still “craves for more.” He sits down for dinner and “craves for more.” He gets into bed, wakes up, and “craves for more.” Then, he goes to church, and he still “craves for more.”
The righteous, by contrast, give without sparing. It’s a paradox, right? If you give without sparing, won’t you be the one who “craves for more”? Not in God’s world. To give a portion of our earnings to God keeps our hearts reminded of the God who not only calls us to give, but blesses us in return.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8)
You all have many gifts. Some are called to give more, and some are called to give less. But when we are called to give, we are called to give generously.
Would you consider being the body of Christ with us by giving now, in our weekly opportunity to give back to god?
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10)
Notice the connection the Apostle Paul makes between increasing your store of seed and enlarging the harvest of your righteousness. When we are equipped with enough resources to give generously, our capacity to produce a greater effect is increased.
Paul makes a holy assumption here that, as God supplies, the Corinthians by the time of his writing would use the blessings appropriately—that is, for righteous works, such as funding the mission and work of the church.
Join me in practicing the Apostle Paul’s generous assumption here today as we give to the Lord with what he has given us.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
It is tempting to always look for the “return on investment” on your generosity. And that is worthwhile, because we must be excellent stewards of God’s money. But sometimes, generosity is more about what God is doing in us through giving than it is about knowing exactly how that gift will be used.
We are entering that moment right now in our service, when we are all challenged once again to believe the promise of Jesus; “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Will you join me in trusting this promise by giving to the church?
“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12)
God doesn’t care if we have 2 pennies or 2 Billion dollars. When we give according to what we have, we please him with an offering from the heart. He works in us to create margin so that we are not always busting at our budget’s seams.
Today, I am inviting you to create margin in your life — no matter what you make — to make margin for God to work, for you to breathe, and for the church to thrive.
“All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord.” (Exodus 35:22)
When Israel first built the tabernacle under Moses, fresh out of Egypt, they all gave their most valuable objects so that Israel could extend the kingdom of God in a manner worthy of the Lord. I’m sure many of them felt the sting—”That was my wedding ring,” “That was my mother's brooch,” “I paid a fortune for that ring.”
And yet, it was all worth it — “All who were willing, men and women alike … all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord.” What a beautiful picture of luxurious generosity for the sake of honoring the majesty of God.
I would like us to give in that spirit today.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)
There is a deep connection between wealth and opportunity. Every dollar that passes through our hands is a transfer of power. And how we use that power is something that shapes us, for better or worse.
One of the ways God turns us into more generous, thankful, joyful people is by blessing us with money so that we can give it back to the kingdom and “result in thanksgiving to god.”
Will you join with me in becoming a thankful people by giving back to the kingdom?
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
The connection between what we do in this life, and how we are rewarded in the next, becomes very vague when you get into the details. What can we really expect from God? God loves this question and puts the metaphor in Scripture — he says, “Let’s pretend a tithe is a consumer transaction. Let’s say you’re paying me, whom you know, trust, and love, money to return the cost of that gift to you in a form of my choosing, because I know and love you.”
God promises to bless us when we give—that blessing may be spiritual enrichment, the joy of being used by God, or something more concrete. But the point is that what we give to God, we always get back. So join me in trusting God that whatever he gives us in return, it will be worth it.
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
When we fail to cultivate generosity, it is easy to isolate ourselves from the natural give-and-take of human relationships, and so we experience no give or take.
Giving is a way of opening ourselves to opportunity. When we choose to be God’s opportunity of help and love for another person, we place ourselves in God’s design for giving and receiving from one another.
Would you step into this opportunity to be like the one who gives freely in Proverbs?
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Paul wrote this after receiving a financial gift from the Philippian church. He says: “Because you made a financial sacrifice to the church as an expression of God’s generosity to you, both the ministry it produces and the satisfaction of being used by God will be all the sweeter.”
There’s something irreplaceable about giving. It does something in us — it makes us uncomfortable in a way that we need, but scarcely want. But we all want to be the kind of people that being generous makes us.
Would you make a financial sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom as an expression of your gratitude toward God’s generosity toward you in christ?
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)
The author of Hebrews speaks of giving as a discipline. Notice that he could have equated doing good with anything.
“Do not neglect to do good and to pray.”
“Do not neglect to do good and to study the Bible.”
“Do not neglect to do good and to volunteer at church.”
But he says something else — something at the heart of doing good: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Will you join me in making a sacrifice pleasing to God by sharing what you have with the kingdom today?
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30)
We often forget how rich God is. Asking you to give to the church doesn’t help God’s financial reputation. If everything belongs to him, why do we give a tithe back to him?
One reason is that we need to remember that God really does own everything. Even the national parks belong to him — “everything from the land … belongs to the Lord.”
Let us stand in awe of the holiness of God today as we practice recognition of his Lordship by giving a tithe back to him.
Use these church offering scripts to strengthen the attention and responsiveness you can command through putting hard, refining work into your giving appeal each Sunday.
In less than 15-minutes, a preacher who regularly gives a sermon on Sunday could reflect and create a fresh angle on the giving appeal in light of some new event, celebration, thought, or holiday that would create a trust in your congregants that you will reward attention given to the giving appeal with fresh and fulfilling insight.
For more resources, download Church Offering Talks: 52 Prompts for Every Occasion.