Promoting Congregational Generosity

How can you promote and increase giving at your local congregation? Provide more ways to give. At my congregation, Harpeth Hills Church of Christ in Brentwood, Tennessee, we have had success at by doing several different things.

Spur of the moment giving. A tradition at our church is to interview and pray for any new missionaries we are sending out. We do this if we are providing total support or giving only a token amount. Frequently I “pass the hat” on the Sunday of the interview, unannounced. A simple line like, “I have never known a missionary entering the field who did not need some extra money.” This approach never fails. The last time we did this a young woman going to Ghana received $20,000, almost exactly the amount she needed to complete her support.  When we told her, she cried.

Announced special contributions. Our long term missionary from Honduras was in town recently, the first time in years. We wanted to additionally fund his retirement account as a way to honor his 30 years with us. We announced this contribution ahead of time and sent letters to every family in the congregation. We like most other churches will have special contributions at times of natural disasters. People expect to give at times like this.

Donations of goods. Each fall we help out local food pantries by having every family bring a sack or two of non-perishable items to the church building on Sunday morning. The sacks, with a list attached, are passed out the week before to ensure the pantries get the items they really need. The sight of hundreds of sacks surrounding the pulpit area is impressive. In the Spring we host Donation Days. For two Sundays in a row we have large trucks at our campus ready to receive large items like furniture and appliances along with gently used clothing. Two different local ministries receive these items.

Good Samaritan Fund. Years ago we had a member lose a job and need significant financial support. From this problem came a marvelous solution—the Good Samaritan Fund. Each fourth Sunday in Sunday School classes, the plate is passed and people contribute to this fund which assists our fellow church members in need. The board of elders distributes these funds in a confidential manner throughout the year. In our case, an individual elder can give $500 without consulting another elder and two elders can give up to $1000. Anything beyond that requires discussion at a meeting.

I will have three more suggestions next week.