There are some who believe that tithing is a legalistic approach to giving. But I believe that God has called us to bring our tithes and offerings to Him on a regular basis. It’s a physical act that demonstrates that He is the Lord of our life. The New Testament didn’t lower the expectations of giving. If anything it actually increased it to the point that we should be willing to sacrificially give to glorify God and further His Kingdom. We should teach regularly on the biblical perspective of giving using both the Old and New Testament as our guide. Jesus talked more about money than he did any other subject while He was here on earth. He knew that if we were going to learn to trust in Him, we would have to learn to let go of our main object of trust, our money.
I have found that once or twice a year as you are teaching a series on giving or one Sunday on giving, you can use the tithe challenge to jump people from initial givers and systematic givers to tithers. It’s just as easy to ask for a 30 day commitment as it is to ask for a 3 month tithe challenge. If your asking for a 3 month challenge, you can also modify it to a 4 month challenge. In Malachi, God says test me. Encourage people to test God. “For the next 4 months I want to encourage you to take this challenge and see what God does in your life.” Along with this challenge, you could give out copies of the treasure principle to those who take the challenge. Either hand it out that day or mail it to them. Mailing it could be better because in the packet with the treasure principle you can include a letter from the pastor with info about the challenge and a mail in envelope and even ask them to use auto debit. After the challenge Sunday, send an email from the pastor encouraging them about their commitment. Then one month in, send another encouraging email, “Right now your being challenged and are wondering what is going on and you are considering taking back what is God’s…” Again at half way through the challenge, send another email requesting stories about what has happened since they took the challenge. (Tangible or Intangible) Do they feel better, have inward peace, seen financial blessings, seen financial struggles, etc… And one month before the challenge ends, send out all of the stories you received to encourage others and invite more stories from those in the challenge. If you’re ambitious, you can also do a daily devotion dealing with money to people who took the tithe challenge.
Note: Know that there will be some people that will not continue tithing after the challenge is over. But there will be a good percentage of those who took the challenge who will realize the value of giving and continue to do it on a regular basis.
Times of change are good times to start a tithe challenge. These would be the months January or Feburary and then again in August or September.
A Side Note on Tithing
Malachi 3 is the basis for tithing. The best time to teach on giving is when things are going good. It should be a part of the normal routine. If you taught on money as much as Jesus taught on money … it would be every third week. A third of Jesus’ teaching is on money. You should challenge people to give more so they can grow more. When you are not tithing, God is not proactively against you. But at the same time, He is not proactively for you. The curse from not tithing is the absence of God’s blessings in your life. Partial obedience in the tithe is complete disobedience. Genesis 4 is another good passage where it talks about Cain and Able. Cain gave what was left over … it says he gave some of his fruit (not his best fruit).
A common excuse for not giving is debt. But, the way to get out of debt is to pay God first and let him manage the debt, not to pay down the debt and ignore God. Proverbs 3:9&10 tells us to honor the Lord with our wealth. Additionally, the tithe should be given to the church not other organizations. The church belongs to Jesus Christ. It is the organization He left behind.
I believe that Stewardship is a process of discipleship. Because of this, we need to be able to measure the growth of the discipleship in this area of ministry just as in any other area. There are some who have the spiritual gift of giving, but there are others that this must be cultivated in as they develop in their walk with Christ. As such, it is important for a pastor to not only identify the types of givers that are in the church, but also develop a plan to disciple these givers into the next step of giving. As we take an initial look at giving there are three things we need to do:
1. WE NEED TO IDENTIFY TYPES OF GIVERS
There are 5 Types of Givers in Every Church
Never Given (Non-Givers)
- How many are giving nothing?
- This number may surprise you if you haven’t been paying attention to your giving numbers.
- The first law of leadership is to define reality (Max Depree). By looking at “current reality” statistics, you create a benchmark to measure progress in your church’s stewardship. You can track individual giving in a database. From that giving record, what percentages of the households of my church are giving? What percentages are not giving? Measure the “overall stewardship health” of your church by comparing these percentages from year to year (and do the same with serving, small groups, etc.). Find and keep the same measurement for growth year after year for comparison.
1st Time Givers (Initial Giver)
- How many are giving between $1 and the “poverty level income”?
- What is “Poverty Level Tithing? Determine what the government defines as the Poverty Level income – 10% of that number is “Poverty Level Tithing”. For example, if poverty level is $12,000 then $1200 would be a poverty level tithe.
- Motivate first time givers by being generous to people. When you give something to people, they are more likely to give something back to you. This is the law of generosity. You’re goal is creating opportunities where people’s hearts become open to giving. Your goal is not to twist their arm to give, but to allow them to give. If your church has a culture of holding tightly to things, you’re people will too.
Regular Givers (Systematic Givers)
- How many are giving between Poverty Level and 10% of the median income of my community?
- How can you determine how many people are actually tithing in your church? Determine the median household income in your area and use 10% of that number. This will give you at least an estimate number to work through.
- The average church has about 3% of their church who actually tithe. (Note: Generally 20% of the congregation is giving 80% of the income in most churches. We need to change this trend.)
Tithers (Proportional Givers)
- What would it look like if everyone at your church tithed based on the median household income of the area where you live?
- Determine the median household income in your area and use 10% of that number as a guide for estimated tithe.
Extravagant Givers (Sacrificial Givers)
- How many are giving above tithe level?
- Regardless of income, you can become an extravagant giver. Giving away money prompts people to give. This gives them a standard to live up to rather than a need to meet. If you’re church isn’t doing much … these givers will give to many other organizations, because they want to give. Make sure extravagant giving is part of your culture.
- What is the gift of giving? It’s a gift that takes you immediately into the sacrificial giving area. They have the ability to encourage others to give and teach them how and why they moved into this area. You can identify the gift of giving by the actions of the giver.
- Use testimonies of these givers to motivate others. Givers can share their gift of giving without sharing the amount that they gave. They can state that they reevaluated their priorities to make sure that they put more into giving. You don’t have to be rich in order to have the gift of giving.
- We have to invest personally in these people in order for them to trust us enough and the vision of the church enough to give the big gifts. Big gifts are treated outside the planning of the budget.
- You should challenge people to give sacrificially. This shouldn’t be an every week request, but you can effectively make it a couple of times a year. Sacrificial is OVER AND ABOVE the level of tithes and offerings you give now. Sacrificial giving is consistently giving over and above the tithe.
2. IDENTIFY WHERE OUR CHURCH IS STRONG AS WE LOOK AT THE ABOVE AREAS.
- After identifying each area within your church, which area identifies the highest percentage of your people?
- Are there factors that have caused one of the five areas to be higher or lower because of the area where you live?
3. IDENTIFY THE NEXT STEPS WE NEED TO TAKE TO MOVE TOWARDS DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF GIVING WITHIN OUR CHURCH.
- What needs to take place in order to begin to make giving a bigger part of your church culture?
- There are some related articles at the end of this blog that could give you some ideas of some steps to take to develop a culture of giving.
- You can encourage the gift of giving, just as you would encourage any other spiritual gift. If someone gives beyond a threshold, send a handwritten note from the pastor thanking them for their sacrificial giving. Keep records of who it goes to so it doesn’t go out more than once. Send an annual gift to recognize their Kingdom investment. This could be a book about something that could inspire rest or something that would benefit them; a DVD of baptisms (visual of how their money made a difference); or even a book on giving.
- You can take key givers out for a meal together. Just as you would invest in developing any other ministry gift in the church or any other leader in the church, you should invest in this as well. This shows that you are willing to invest in them – ask key questions (know about them –family, where they serve, work, etc…): How can we better minister to you as a church? Do you have any questions about the direction of our church? How can I pray for you? By answering these questions it gives them value but also clears up unanswered questions that may also be hindering their giving even though they are key givers. (Note: Don’t try to raise money at these gatherings.)
Identifying these types of givers at our church and a plan to move people forward has had an impact on not only our church as a whole, but the spiritual growth of many within our church.
- Planning for the Offering (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Giving has more Options (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Stewardship doesn’t just happen (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Can we do anything to increase giving? (insideministry.wordpress.com)
- Receive an offering at midnight! (insideministry.wordpress.com)