By now, many of us are longing for the days when we could gather as a church body: for celebrations, small groups, dinners, or regular Sunday morning services. As part of all the changes taking place in our lives because of COVID-19, churches have been leading the way in becoming innovative in carrying out their missions despite unprecedented changes.
One impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that many churches are concerned about is how regular giving will change. Will it drop significantly, will it remain stable, or even increase? These are the questions churches are asking and discussing.
We must remember, regardless of our circumstances, that God is still on His throne.
With His sovereignty in mind, here are six things churches can do that will help inspire giving during these unprecedented times.
1. Check your perspective
What attitude are you conveying—and relying on during this time? Are you operating out of a position of scarcity or abundance? Fear or optimism? What tone are you using to communicate?
This is critical, because your congregation will most likely adopt the same tone and attitude they see you practicing.
Don’t go silent. There is a danger in silence. People create their own narratives in silence.
Tell stories of your church being The Church. Share video interviews of your staff and ministry leaders in action. Demonstrate that ministry is continuing, work is happening albeit a bit differently.
Your church can be a mouthpiece of hope and an example of faith in action. Let people know how God is at work in and through your ministries.
Go beyond broadcasting the weekly message. I’m hearing stories of prayer groups and small groups holding Zoom meetings.
In churches without organized small groups, elders are dividing up the congregation and calling everyone: checking in, seeing how they are doing and asking if they have needs and praying together.
Don’t assume people will continue to give or that they won’t give. Speculation has been described as “unhelpful guessing.”
Be clear. Ask your people to continue to give. Ask them to make giving to your ministry a priority. Let your congregation know that their financial support is critical and is being well stewarded. And say, “Thank you!”
5. Do some research
Looking back following the recession of 2008, many churches reported there was not a measurable drop in giving. Commitment to local churches remained strong. Some ministries and parachurch organizations were impacted significantly, but people remained loyal to the local church.
How was your ministry impacted by the 2008 recession? What lessons didn’t you learn that are applicable?
6. Be informed
Look at your actual income to date. Compare this year’s giving to last year at the same point in time. How do calendar events like spring break impact regular giving?
Many churches experience a drop in giving from the first week of the month to the fourth week. How does your giving come in? Weekly? Bi-monthly? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually?
Study your giving records looking for a change in the regular giving rhythms. Has the order to “shelter in place” impacted a particular person or family?
Take time to pray for each one as you work through the list.
We are here.
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