Communicating value to members is key to increasing generosity at your church. But it’s something that is often overlooked. Today’s guest blogger deeply understands the why and the how of helping members understand the impact of their church community. Dr. Hal Seed, D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry), founded New Song Community Church 23 years ago, and today New Song has four branches serving its Oceanside, CA community, including many members from the nearby Camp Pendleton Marine base. Pastor Seed is also the founder of pastormentor.com. He shares his best tips with us for keeping members informed and excited about their church community.
-- Kevin Lee
Your voice is getting lost in the noise
There is a tendency to be complacent and think and hope that people will give to their local church, but there are many other organizations asking for support. As pastors, we tend to rely on scripture and don’t do enough to ensure that every member understands the full mission and impact of the church. At Thanksgiving alone, your average member gets a dozen or more appeals. The Church must present its case, communicating that it is trustworthy and holding its community together in righteousness, but also doing incredible things for its community. Most churches do a lot for their cities that is taken for granted. Food pantries, for example. Members like to know the facts. So tell them the spiritual and practical victories…
Because of your generosity we helped x amount of marriages improve, provided a safe meeting place for x number of teens, brought x people to salvation.
Members like to hear about results. And they are accustomed to hearing other organizations they support talk about results.
Communicate benefits, not features
Whoever is preaching at New Song sends an email each week to the entire church in advance of services. It’s a reminder – we are really excited about this weekend because…and we tell them why. We don’t focus on features in the email such as you will hear 3 songs. We focus on the life-changing benefits of being present in church for that particular service.
Facts, figures and stories
Each quarter we send out a Giving letter thanking members and outlining what we did together with prayers, service and generosity. Numbers count because they give concrete results and build credibility and trust about your mission. But every number also has a story that matters to God. Learn to tell that part of the results. Stories move the heart and motivate members to be generous. They feel like it’s something they want to be a part of and invest in. Life change is what the church is all about. People of God want to support the work of God.
Helping members to give generously
More than 25 percent of our offerings are electronic in some form and we anticipate that going up radically. People carry less cash and checks so we don’t want to make it difficult for them to give when they are moved to do so. Churches tend to be late adopters, because we as leaders are older. If a 20-something set up a church they wouldn’t think twice about electronic payments.
We use a giving envelope with a large flap so that members can fill in information for debit or credit cards. We also encourage people to automate their giving. Explain the practical reality that when they go on vacation over the summer, they still need to pay their mortgage, their light bill, etc. The church does too!
Helping members to give responsibly
A large percentage of Americans live month-to-month. If we are asking members to give sacrificially, we must offer help on how to manage all of their money. Every quarter we offer a class that helps families track where every dollar in their wallet is going. It has been highly effective. To be responsible pastors we need to help members to not just give, but to use the other 90 percent of their money circumspectly.
On founding Pastormentor.com
When I was 45, I realized that I was older than half the people on the planet and actually did have things to share that could help other pastors. I started helping pastors informally, then started a blog and eventually developed a series of tools to help pastors grow healthier larger churches to reach more people for Christ.
A final note
Set goals and communicate them. It invites members into being part of the mission and they will be more motivated to pray for and support the work when they hear details.