Imagine a church full of generous and cheerful givers! That church would need to seek ways to use its income to impact the community, and, for that matter, the entire world with the gospel. I’ve known many generous and cheerful givers, but I’ve never served an entire congregation of them.
Church leaders differ on whether a pastor should be aware of what each church member actually gives. It is probably safe to say that somewhere between 15% and 20% of the givers in your church contribute 80% of the income. It would be easier to go to the 20% of the people who financially support the ministries of the church and ask them to increase their contributions than to go to the 80% who give little to nothing. However, what does that say about our ability to disciple our members as biblical stewards? Have our churches been effective in that respect?
One January, after only a few months of serving as transitional pastor at a particular church, I attended the monthly deacons meeting. A written report was distributed to each of us by the chairman of deacons. The report listed the numbers 1 through 12, representing the 12 deacons. Listed on the report was the amount that each deacon contributed to the church the previous year. Names were omitted to protect confidentiality, but the truth was out and exposed an obvious spiritual problem among the leadership. Less than 40% of the deacons in the church were actually tithing. Another 40% gave something, but less than a tithe. But 20% of the deacons gave absolutely nothing to the Lord to support the ministries of the church.
Over the past four decades, I’ve observed many different types of givers, and unfortunately, I’ve come across far too many “givers” who never give. Such people offer little to nothing financially, but can dish out more to hurt the giving potential within a church than I can describe. Here’s how to recognize them.
The giver who never gives is stingy about putting God’s money into circulation. As the Old Testament book of I Samuel 14:17-23 says, Saul seemed more interested in offering the spoils of the Amalekites than his own. On the other hand, Matthew 26 describes the woman with precious ointment who wanted to lovingly pour it upon Jesus. She gave the best she had for the Lord, but the Lord’s own stingy disciples viewed her act as wasteful. However, Jesus quickly corrected His disciples by telling them that her gracious act would be remembered throughout time.
The giver who never gives usually spends far more than he or she earns and uses that as an excuse for not giving. Such people sometimes seek the pity of others for their predicaments. At times, such givers even rationalize that giving their time takes the place of financial giving.
The giver who never gives can be very verbal about why the church shouldn’t spend money. Years ago, someone shared the comparison between a crow and a lark. I’ve never forgotten it as applied to church members. It is so easy to be drawn to the loud noises from the crow and miss the beautiful sound of the lark. One needs discernment to hear over the loud voices that sometimes come from such members.
The giver who never gives has difficulty following spiritual leadership. A person’s giving habits and his or her ability to follow spiritual leadership often are connected. The giver who does not tithe often steps to the head of the line to criticize the pastor or teacher who speaks about stewardship.
The giver who never gives displays constant negativity. Such people are usually watching the bottom line of the church financial reports and questioning most expenditures.
The giver who never gives often jockeys for prominent positions within the church. Sometimes you will even see this individual wanting to serve on the stewardship committee or as church treasurer.
How do you deal with the giver who never gives?
- Pray for the Lord to stir the heart of every member/steward.
- Seek to disciple the giver who never gives into a faithful biblical steward.
- Establish biblical standards for anyone in leadership positions in the church.
- Communicate lives changed through the ministries of the church.
- Send thank you notes to every member at least two times per year. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to touch the heart of every believer and help them become faithful and growing stewards.
- When you have givers who are generous because they see how God changes lives, look for ways to make an even more significant difference in the world.
Churches with generous givers should be the norm, not the exception. You can make that happen by taking the necessary steps to disciple every member in the area of stewardship. The turnaround in your church starts with one giver at a time!