Why is My Church’s Giving Decreasing?
Church giving is so important for your ministry to thrive. You know more than anyone how valuable congregational giving is for the growth of your church, and the investment in worship, youth, young adults, and other ministries. But giving isn’t always the easiest topic to deal with. Your church will almost certainly go through seasons where congregational giving is down. The question is – why is it happening, and is it preventable?
If you’re trying to lock down a reason (or several reasons) as to why your congregational giving may be down, here are some things to consider:
Why Is My Church Giving Decreasing?
There are plenty of reasons why your church’s giving may be decreasing. The issue is, some are controllable factors and others, not so much. So, as you read this post, it’s important to be honest with yourself regarding what you can be doing better to promote giving in your church, but also recognize that some things are out of your control.
Here are a few hints as to why your church giving may be decreasing:
Obviously, attendance is directly tied to giving. This is an especially pertinent factor during summer seasons. People use the summer to go to their cabins or to take vacations, and this will drastically affect attendance rates. But remember, attendance is not always just a seasonal factor.
If your church attendance has been dropping slowly, take note of the overall percentage drop in both attendance and giving since the same time last year. You may find the numbers are quite comparable.
Lastly, week-to-week attendance of each congregation member affects how much they are giving. If most of your congregational members are committed to being there on a weekly basis, missing very few Sundays, chances are your giving will be quite healthy. Attendance frequency matters – attenders who come 3 weeks per month are more likely to give more than attenders who come 2 weeks per month.
Average Congregation Age
Different generations show different tithing behaviors. Studies have shown that “Builders” (born before the mid 1940’s) give consistently out of institutional loyalty. Baby Boomers and Generation X are not quite as consistent with their tithing, and millennials (so far) are not all that consistent givers. Remember – these are all massive generalizations from big-data research on churches across the U.S. Every church’s congregation will be unique and different.
Keep this in mind when trying to figure out why church giving may have dropped. Have many of your older members filtered out as a younger crowd has trickled in? Is the timing of this consistent with the change in giving trends?
Purpose vs. Organization
There is an undoubtable shift in the motivations for giving in Millennials. Millennials – generally speaking – want to give towards a real, visible purpose rather than give to an organization out of institutional loyalty.
This is important to note in how the message of giving is portrayed at your church. The traditional strategy of “giving to the church” worked great with older generations, but Millennials usually want to hear a different message. They want demonstrations with specificity of how the tithes are being used by the church, were they are all going, and what financial goals the church has for the remainder of the year.
It’s funny when you think about it – nothing changed from an administrative standpoint; money comes in and you use your discretion on how to divvy it out based on the ministries and staff you are supporting. However, the messaging must change.
A good idea is to frequently share the church’s collective giving and its annual financial goals. Instead of representing it as one number, break apart the budget by category. What has been given towards missions, community activities, the church ministry, etc.? Putting the church administration financial needs in their own category can help people to see the financial needs of the church based on staffing requirements, building rental/mortgage, and other cost factors. These visible numbers are generally a motivation for younger crowds.
Sermons on Giving
Obviously, one of the biggest reasons people may not be giving much is because they’re not being asked to do so. Yes, we all should give out of our own commitment to God and our home church, but sometimes people need to be reminded of how their money is being used and why it’s important (which ties into the prior point).
As you might imagine, this is a fine line to walk. You don’t want to make all of your sermons about giving. You don’t want to force people to give out of compulsion and get burnt out on messages about giving. However, it is important to have a healthy balance.
Giving used to be frequently talked about in sermons, but over the years, churches have begun to talk about it less and less out of fear of deterring new attenders or seeming unappreciative for the current tithing of the congregation.
Giving shouldn’t be an afterthought. God should receive the first fruits from his people so that money can be used wisely for the furthering of his kingdom. Many pastors aren’t preaching anymore on the spiritual discipline of giving, but it’s important! Be cautious about not mentioning it too much, but don’t be afraid of challenging your congregation on their stance regarding giving.
If giving isn’t convenient, congregation members may frequently forget to give. This isn’t intentional – it just happens, and this is especially true with younger crowds. Everyone is moving their car payments, mortgage payments, and subscriptions to online (frequently automated) payment methods.
As you might imagine, churches who introduce online giving, automated monthly giving, and text giving are also seeing an increase in their congregation’s tithes. This isn’t done with the intent of “tricking” your congregation into giving each month, but rather as a means to keep distractions and forgetfulness from interfering with their intended monthly tithe.
Automated giving isn’t difficult to set up and many churches – large and small – are making it happen for their congregation. Do some research on simple web tools or giving platforms you can use to make online, text, and automated giving available to your congregation!
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.