I did not select the title for an upcoming presentation to church leaders. The director of the event did that, but I must say I like it. Candid. What a great word. But conversation? I suspect I will dominate the conversation to the point that it sounds suspiciously like a lecture.
So here is what I plan on saying.
- You must talk about giving with your people. Do not shy away from preaching and teaching about this important issue. The topic dominates scripture. Publicly stress the importance of giving in every way possible. Sure it can make people uncomfortable. So what? I am not saying pull out your shaming sermons and beat your people down. But you must teach the biblical view of stewardship.
- Advertise. Remind the congregation of all the good things you do as a church. Members do not pay attention at budget presentation time. How many of your mission works can your average member list? You must frequently remind them about the soup kitchen downtown, the school in South America, and the children's home in a neighboring state. Find a creative volunteer, give them a list of things you need to remind people of, and cut them loose. One note. If you do video, do it well.
- Get up to speed on online giving. The fees will take your bookkeeper's breath away, but online giving is here to stay. All the consultants claim the extra money you receive due to the ease of giving will more than make up for the exorbitant fees. I think they are right. Our online giving is up 50% over the past two years. We remind people of it about every six months.
- Have special contributions. For years many churches have funded a portion of their budget--missions for example--by having a one-time yearly contribution. Budgets don't excite people. Specific needs encourage people to give. These special contributions also give you an opportunity to emphasize and advertise.
- Say thank you. One of the best things our elders have done over the past three years is call up several loyal church members and thank them for their generosity. We have sent contribution statements with a thank you scribbled on them for years, but those personal phone calls. They were the bomb. On another occasion a minister thanked a member for his generosity one Sunday. The next week the member gave a five figure, completely unsolicited contribution. If a church leader heeded only one piece of advice, it should be this. Say thank you.