Side Income Ideas for Pastors

Side Income Ideas for Pastors

On one hand, there’s no such thing as “part-time” ministry.

But today, many pastors are bi-vocational or co-vocational.

For many, it’s an intentional choice, perhaps even an evangelism strategy.  For others, it’s an unavoidable reality; the supplemental income is necessary.

If you’re a pastor or a church leader looking for extra income, here are some ideas.

 

#1 – Speak at other churches.

You’re already a great speaker and you know what you have to say would be helpful in other churches.  But instead of just “being available,” consider packaging and promoting your three best messages.

 

#2 – Speak at local businesses or events.

Whether it’s a club having a special event or a business looking to do employee training, organizations are always looking for people to come and speak.  Intentionally create two or three non-sermon talks and actively promote them.  Let organizations know you’re available to speak on a few select topics.

 

#3 – Self publish a book on Amazon.

It’s never been easier to publish a book or eBook.  Collect your best sermons, write a devotional book, or chase down that topic that’s always interested you.  Stack this with the two ideas above, and you’ll have a bigger audience than most.  Learn more about Amazon Publishing here.

 

#4 – Write for other Christian businesses or publications.

Websites, journals, and even business are always looking for writers and content creators.

 

#5 – Become a coach or consultant.

You’re probably naturally good at this, but with a little formalization, you can develop a nice side business.  There are many programs where you can be certified and licensed, with lots of support for growing a coaching business.  Check out System and Soul, Giant, The Table Group, EOS, Intentional Churches, and Church Fuel.

 

#6 – Create an online course.

This industry has boomed over the last 10 years, but it’s not too late.  You can teach what you know on platforms like SkillShare, Teachable, or Gura.  Your course could be church related, Christian-focused, or something altogether different.

 

#7 – Host a paid webinar or seminar.

Rather than make a full-blown course, you could try a one-time seminar or training.  There’s a topic you know better than most people, and there’s a segment of the world that wants to know it.

 

#8 – Rental income.

This isn’t a quick fix, but it could become a nice source of passive income.  If you want to get into this world, start with the Bigger Pockets website and podcast.

 

#9 – Start a website or design business.

A lot of pastors manage their church website, which gives you a skill most people don’t have.  Consider packaging up your creative and/or technical services and offering them to small businesses as a retainer situation.

 

#10 – Start an SEO business.

Similar to the idea above but a little more technical, a lot of organizations need help in this area.  If you’ve got some basic understanding, you could quickly add some formal training and certifications and be up and running in a few months.  Start with Hubspot’s SEO course or this free SEO course from Moz.

 

#11 – Start a t-shirt business.

The creator economy has boomed over the last few years, especially during Covid. Partner with a designer if necessary.  You can get started on sites like Teespring and not have to worry about inventory.

 

#12 – Host, edit, or produce a podcast.

You’re a good speaker already, so it wouldn’t be a huge jump to host a podcast.  Maybe there’s a business owner in your church who wants to expand his or her platform.  Or maybe you’re more of a behind the scenes editor or producer.  Either way, this is a service a lot of people need and a good opportunity for retainer income.

 

#13 – Start a yard sign business.

I recently rented big Happy Birthday yard signs for my daughter’s special day, and someone made a decent amount of money.  A little bit of inventory and some high school kids to deliver and pick up, and you’ve got a nice little side gig.

 

#14 – Deliver food.

DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, and a host of other delivery services allow you to work a little bit here and there.  Many people make this their main source of income, but most do it to supplement.  Use the time in your vehicle to listen to real estate or business podcasts, and you’ll start to stack ideas.

 

#15 – Offer your services on task sites.

Fiverr, Upwork, and 99 Designs all help connect freelancers to people who need one-time or ongoing project work.  It may take a while to build up a portfolio or reviews, but there’s potential there if you have some basic skills.

 

#16 – Rent your RV.

If you own an RV, rent it out via Outdoorsy or RVShare when you’re not using it.  Many people purchase vehicles exclusively for this purpose and generate a decent amount of revenue.

 

#17 – Rent your car.

Turo is like Airbnb for your vehicle.  When you’re not using it, rent it out to others. The last time I was in Denver, I rented a Tesla from a guy who purchased three of them just for this purpose.

 

#18 – Rent your home.

Use Airbnb or VRBO to rent a room or your whole house.  This turns an expense (or at least some of an expense) into revenue.

 

#19 – Buy an existing website or app business.

Flippa is a marketplace for small apps or websites with revenue.  There are brand new ideas and sites with history.

 

If you want to learn a lot more about this topic, including advice on how to balance your side gig with being a full-time pastor, where you need to be careful to prevent a conflict of interest, and some general best practices about how to get started, watch this free training.

5 Best Practices for Online Giving

5 Best Practices for Online Giving

Years ago, I helped lead a bunch of workshops around the country to help churches create a stewardship strategy.

At the time, one of the big topics was digital giving.

We were getting questions about technology, fees, and the communication strategy for how to roll out digital giving.

  • Should we really encourage credit card giving?
  • Is PayPal a good enough solution?
  • How does giving online feel connected to the worship service?
  • Do we need a separate giving page or a giving kiosk in the lobby?

Looking back on this, it feels a little bit like wondering if automobiles, television, or the fad of wondering if the internet will stick around.

We’ve progressed to the point where online giving (or digital giving) is commonplace. It’s an accepted practice.

Even though it’s fairly normal for a church to accept digital donations and there are dozens of church-giving software solutions to enable these transactions, there’s still so much opportunity ahead of us.

Even if we have the software, we still may need to make adjustments to the process or the underlying strategy.

Here are five best practices for digital giving.

#1 – Giving online should be easy.  

Whether people are giving from your church website or on their phone, the steps need to be simple.

An important principle here: The easier you make something, the more people will do it. The donation page is one of the most important pages on your website. It should be clear, compelling, and easy to follow.  

  • Don’t ask for unnecessary information. Every extra field is a barrier.
  • Don’t require someone to create an account first.  That’s a roadblock right as they begin their journey.  
  • Don’t bury the call to action a few pages in or hide the ask among a flurry of buzzwords or jargon.

#2 – Digital Giving should be fast.  

A few years ago, I donated a small amount to the 100 fastest growing churches in the United States and both political party’s presidential campaigns and released the findings in a special report.

As you can imagine, I’m now on quite a few mailing lists.

But here’s what I found.

On average, it was 3x quicker to donate to a politician than it was to donate to a church, even the fastest-growing ones.

Every extra click invites people to STOP the process, and if they encounter too much friction, they will leave.

#3 – Online donations should be flexible.  

Digital giving should encompass your website and your app (if you have one). It needs to work on any computer and any phone using any operating system.

And it should allow the giver to give any way they want.

  • Connecting their bank account (ACH)
  • Giving via debit and credit cards
  • All types of credit cards, even ones that have slightly higher fees

There are emerging solutions that allow users to donate appreciated assets like stocks. And in the near future, crypto giving may become normalized.

These modern ways to give should not be avoided; they should be embraced. It wasn’t long ago that churches allowed people to give via check. That was revolutionary and questioned by many. 

#4 – Digital Giving should be intentional.

When physical gatherings were disrupted due to Covid, the churches who had spent the last several years teaching their people to set up automatic, recurring giving didn’t worry as much as those who were still dependent on passing the plate.

But many churches scrambled to implement quick tech solutions so people could give. There wasn’t time to carefully research and craft an implementation plan…it had to work quickly.

Maybe it’s time to step back and make sure you got into the right situation.

Just like recurring payments are the holy grail for business, recurring donations provide an extra layer of financial stability for churches.

Even though you offer digital giving solutions, particularly recurring ones, it’s not enough.

You have to teach people to use it.

You need to encourage action, not raise awareness.  

This might be:

  • Publicly thanking those who automate their giving
  • Creating intentional communication to donors showing them how to use automated solutions
  • Planning a special emphasis on this once a year (think of it like an internal communications campaign, the same way you might recruit volunteers)

#5 – Keep improving.

Digital giving is a must-have in churches today.

But it’s not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. You should periodically review your technology and processes, making it better and more user-friendly.

The thing you signed up for 5 years ago may not be the best solution today.

The decision you made quickly out of necessity might not be the thing that gets you to the next level.

That’s why it’s important to keep learning, keep evaluating, and keep improving.

Open up a private browser window and go to your own church website and make a donation like a first-timer. Record your screen so you can see how long it takes. Pretend you’re new and see if everything makes sense. Pay attention to the confirmation screens, the follow-up, and how you feel. Better yet…ask a friend, neighbor, or co-workers to do the same thing and give you feedback.

Take a look at other church's giving pages and look for ways to get better.

But your best bet might be learning from larger non-profits, e-commerce stores, and even political campaigns. See how they focus on the user interface and the user experience to make it fast, easy, and friendly.

Take the Next Step

If talking about money in church makes you uncomfortable, The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Stewardship will give you confidence. This free guide helps you create a strategy for encouraging people to give, thanking existing donors, and breaking through financially so your church can do what God has called you to do.

13 Tips for Creating a Financial Plan in Your Church

13 Tips for Creating a Financial Plan in Your Church

As you look to make a new financial plan or church budget for next year, here are thirteen practical tips.

1. Now is a great time to evaluate your ministries and programs for effectiveness and trim things that no longer work.

Don’t keep programs and ministries you like but are no longer effective. Go through a season of evaluation right before you go into budget planning and then fund what is working. These evaluation forms can help.

2. Underestimate your church’s income and overestimate your spending.

“A budget is really a forecast, which at best is an educated guess,” says Joe Sangl of INJOY Stewardship Solutions. If you’re making guesses, it’s probably smarter to guess on the conservative side.

3. Build a budget based on a percentage of last year’s income.

Budgeting by faith sounds spiritual but it might not be the best financial strategy. Eric Owens, Pastor at Rincon First Christian Church says, “We base our budget on 85% of income for the current year and strive to have a reserve of 3-6 months operating expenses.” 

4. Consider a shorter budget cycle if needed.

If your church is growing or if you’re seeing an attendance decline, a shorter timeline will give you a built-in mechanism to make adjustments.  Maybe your budget is for six months instead of twelve.Trying to plan out the entirety of the year could be difficult with the fast, changing climate we are currently in. Build for the first quarter, and then make needed adjustments throughout the year,” says Philip Scowden, Community Engagement Leader for Thrivent.

5. Make sure your budget accounts for cash flow, not just total giving.

When you receive and spend money matters. Connor Baxter, Campus Pastor at Watermark Frisco says, “Businesses are having to look at different numbers than years prior. Pastors should do the same. Don't just look at top of line donations, but look at your overall cash flow weighed against the expenses you've been able to cut this year.” 

6. Build a budget that reflects the priorities you laid out in your strategic ministry plan.

And if you don’t have a strategic ministry plan, create one immediately. Chuck Taylor, CFO of Trinity Fellowship Church says, “Make sure that everything you spend can be directly tied back to your church's mission, vision, and strategy. Too often church leaders prioritize a cost but cannot explain why. From volunteer t-shirts to software, be intentional with everything you spend.” If you don’t have a written and clear ministry plan, here’s some practical advice (and a template).

7. A good financial plan should have two parts.

A spending plan, which most people call a budget. And a funding plan, which describes how you’re going to actually receive the money, which most churches don’t have.

8. Get your stewardship committee, finance team, and leaders thinking about funding, not just spending.

Most churches agonize over how they are going to spend it and give very little effort to strategically thinking through the funding side. This is a big shift for a lot of churches. We talked about five of these shifts here.

9. Have a clear plan to talk about money.

Talk about it consistently. Talk about it with purpose. Talk about it with a sense of hope. Here’s a free money message series, complete with message notes, graphics, and take-home tools.

10. If you want your people to help fund the budget, make sure you have a strategy to help them win with their personal finances.

This means you need to help them manage the 90% not just ask for the 10%. If you don’t talk about wise financial principles, who will?

11. Consider asking members for stocks as well as cash donations. 

Stephen Kump, Co-founder and CEO of Charityvest, says: “Encouraging members to give stock rather than cash can increase donated amounts by a significant marginWhen members give this way, they avoid paying capital gains tax on their stocks that have gone up in value, putting more money toward giving rather than the government. Having a simple way to receive donated stocks ensures you get the benefits without the operational headache of opening a brokerage account and coordinating the receipt of stock + paperwork yourself.” Charityvest is a great tool for this and it’s dead simple for churches.  

12. Don’t be afraid to ask people to give.

Jeff Henderson of The FOR Company says, “My responsibility is to ask. Their responsibility is to answer. Don’t shy away from asking big.”

13. Say thanks. A lot.

Sometimes, with a hand-written note.  Everyone who is currently giving to your church needs to know they matter. They need to hear you personally say thanks. People who work in non-profit fundraising know donor retention is more important than donor acquisition.

If you’re a Church Fuel member, you’ll find budget templates, cash flow worksheets, finance team training, and a lot more to help with the budgeting process in the Resource Library. Plus, when you sign up for membership, you’ll get immediate access to The Stewardship Course, our premium training to help you raise and manage money in the church.

3 Unique Ways to Engage Your Church In Generosity

3 Unique Ways to Engage Your Church In Generosity

According to our Weekly Pastor Poll, 40% of churches have reported a decline in giving since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

While we rely on generosity to balance the budget, it’s important to remember the generosity is also an important part of spiritual formation. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing, and that calling falls on the shoulders of all of us. We are a conduit of God’s blessing. 

But unlike acts of service like volunteering or making a meal for someone in need, generosity often strikes a different tone and carries its own unique baggage. Which makes engaging our members in generosity an act that requires thought, tact, and intentionality.

Services will continue to look different, even as we start re-opening. So how are other churches engaging their members around generosity? Let’s take a look at the three great examples we found.

Generosity Prayer

Remind your church that generosity is spiritual. The Village Church recites this Generosity Prayer at each of their services as a continual reminder that everything we have does not belong to us. 

Holy Father, there is nothing we have that You have not given us.

All we have and all we are belong to You, bought with the blood of Jesus.

To spend selfishly and to give without sacrifice

is the way of the world,

but generosity is the way of those who call Christ their Lord.

So, help us to increase in generosity

until it can be said that there is no needy person among us.

Help us to be trustworthy with such a little thing as money

that You may trust us with true riches.

Above all, help us to be generous

because You, Father, are generous.

May we show what You are like to all the world.

Best Practice #1: Framing generosity as a vehicle for spiritual growth not only helps remove the baggage associated with generosity, but serves as a reminder that being generous doesn’t just help our community, but it also helps us.

Outreach Updates

Liquid Church posted this Outreach Update to communicate to their members how their giving supports their outreach ministries. 

The Special Olympics is a partner of Liquid Church, and its members provided both volunteer and financial support for a local event in New Jersey. Liquid Church shot a video of the Special Olympics video director saying “Thank You” for their generosity and sharing the effect it has had on the organization.

Sharing stories and outcomes are often more effective than just asking people to give.

Don’t just ask, inspire.

Best Practice #2: Transparency matters. When you share specific updates about how your member’s generosity isn’t just going to your church but through your church, you create a clear flow of finances that communicates a culture of transparency, which in turn builds trust.

An Exclusive Club

Bobby Williams at the Ridge Church sent this email to the 29% of people that gave more than 4 times in the past year to tell them they are a part of the “29 club”. While the club doesn’t actually exist, it reminds members that regular givers are not the norm, their generosity is important, and their giving is a habit worth keeping. 

Best Practice #3: As we talked about in our article on The 5 Money Shifts Every Church Should Make, the very first thing you should do if you want more people to engage in giving to your church is develop a robust strategy of care for your existing donors.

Regularly acknowledge and encourage your members who are faithfully giving. When a football player makes a touchdown, the crowd cheers him on. We all need to be cheered on from time to time, especially when we’re actively pushing against cultural norms and practicing spiritual disciplines. 

A part of that strategy needs to include communicating fiscal responsibility, corporate generosity, and your church’s recurring giving. 

On a recent webinar for our Rebound Course, we talked in depth about what these look like, why they matter, and how to implement them.

The strategy of communicating generosity, and the motivations behind generosity, continues to shift with time and with culture. That constant change will never go away, so be intentional about focusing on what is effective now, and not just what you’ve always done. 

Whether you’re sending encouraging emails, creating opportunities to practice generosity, or sharing stories, keep generosity as a major narrative in your church to create a culture of generosity.

3 Ways Your Church Can Create Different Streams of Income

3 Ways Your Church Can Create Different Streams of Income

Raising financial support for your church will look different—really soon.

Let me explain. 

In recent years, one significant shift has been taking place that will negatively influence your church:

People tend to be less engaged in local churches.  

Study after study has revealed a general decline in worship attendance across the United States. Now, this trend may not be influencing your church today, but there’s one more thing you need to know. 

When it comes to younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials), their view of participating in local churches differ from older generations in one big way: They tend to be less engaged. 

What does this have to do with raising financial support?

Well, it’s a simple equation. 

Fewer people attending your church means there will be fewer people available to donate.

Your church may already feel the impact of this change, or it may be years until you experience the full brunt of this shift. In either scenario, you need to start preparing for this change now. 

In this post, I’m going to share with you three ways you can leverage what you already have to create multiple streams of income. 


#1 – Leverage your church’s property

Does your church own property?

If so, you may be sitting on several streams of income.

Think about it. 

Depending on the size of your property and how you use it, there are at least three ways you can leverage it to generate income. You may be able to lease your facility (or a part of it) for:

1. Business space

2. Coworking space

3. Events

Do you have enough space in your church building to lease it to a business? This is what Mosaic Church does. Mosaic Church had enough unused space on their property to rent to a fitness club to the tune of $8,000 per month. 

With the extra income they earn from this lease, Mosaic Church can cover the entirety of their monthly mortgage. 

And although this wasn’t mentioned by their church leaders, I imagine this stream of income provides a tremendous amount of peace because they know their monthly mortgage is paid.

Your church may not have enough free space to spare several thousand square feet. But do you have unused office space or a wing of your building you can lease as offices? Can you convert some of your building into a workshop for a local artisan? Is your church building in an ideal location to provide space for a coffee shop or retail store? These few questions will help you to think through the possibilities. 

On a similar note, your church may be able to tap into the growing popularity of coworking spaces. For example, Bethesda United Methodist Church runs Haw Creek Commons—a coworking space—out of their church facility. 

For this to work, you can rent out a handful of offices or use an entire section of your church building to provide coworking space. 

Finally, a third option you can consider is hosting events. 

If you think about it, there’s a good chance your church building is ideal for hosting live or virtual events. From providing a stage to seating to a foyer, you can quickly adapt your facility into a perfect event location. 

From concerts and theater to seminars and ceremonies, there are countless ways you can transform your facility into an ideal event venue for your community. 


#2 – Open a bookstore

There’s one thing many Christians have in common:

They like to read books. 

Christianity is a religion of the Word. 

An essential tenet of our faith is that we believe God revealed himself through the Bible. This belief not only compels us to read the Bible. It also leads us to read books. 

Despite the general decline of people purchasing books over the years, according to Forbes, the revenue of religious publishing companies increased by 14.7% in 2019. 

So what’s the point? 

There’s a good chance your church could benefit from starting a bookstore. 

Before making a decision on this, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Preparedness

2. Placement

3. Pace yourself

4. Payment

5. Promotion

Is your church prepared to have a bookstore? 

One of the most significant factors influencing the answer to this question is your weekly attendance. For example, if your church has an average weekly attendance of 75, then you may not have enough people present to make a bookstore a viable stream of income. However, if your church welcomes a few hundred people or more every week, then you may be able to sell enough books to produce a decent stream of income.

If you believe your church is prepared to provide a bookstore, then you’ll need to consider the store’s placement. For instance, you don’t want to place your bookstore in the janitor’s closet or away from the flow of people coming and going. Be sure to place your bookstore in view of people attending your worship services. 

Pace yourself in launching your bookstore. Instead of purchasing thousands of dollars worth of products, consider purchasing a few hundred dollars worth of material. This way, if you run into a problem selling products, you will only incur a small financial setback. 

How will you sell your books? 

When you make your books available, be sure to have your payment information nailed down. There are many payment options you can provide: From using a Square Reader to providing a box people can drop cash or a check into, to asking people to make a payment via PayPal.

Finally, don’t forget to promote your bookstore. 

Naturally, your preaching pastor will mention books during his or her sermon. If possible, identify what books or resources your pastor will highlight during their sermon or sermon series. This way, you can include those books in your bookstore.


#3 – Gain interest on your savings 

When it comes to your church’s finances, it’s a good idea to save money for a rainy day. If your church has faithfully saved money over the years, have you accumulated a decent nest egg? 

Depending on your church’s financial situation, you can leverage your savings to create an additional stream of income. I’m not suggesting you invest in the stock market or pursue risky investments. Instead, consider placing a portion of your church’s savings or checking account money into interest-bearing accounts. 

Several factors will influence this decision. Instead of giving you general advice here, I suggest you consult your church’s leadership and financial advisor to ensure your church is leveraging the money you have well. 

Your Church's Extra Income

No matter your situation, is important you and your church leadership think through options for expanding your streams of income. That way, your church will be better prepared to handle any ups and downs in giving that may occur now or in the future.

How To Encourage People To Give: 6 Steps

How To Encourage People To Give: 6 Steps

Leading your church to live and love like Jesus takes time.

You can’t press an “easy button.”

There’s no way to “update” your church like an app on your phone.

And teaching the Bible doesn’t work overnight.

Why bring this up?

Recently, many church leaders have asked us for advice on how to increase giving in their churches. From being behind on the church’s budget to desiring to raise more money for foreign missions, there are countless reasons why you, like them, would like to see your church’s giving increase.

Before addressing specifics, we encourage church leaders to take a step back. In other words, don’t focus on the tactics (fruit). Instead, focus on the heart (framework) of your church.

This isn’t some sort of Jedi mind trick or strategic move from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

But here’s the deal:

A new tactic in giving will only provide short-term results if you don’t cultivate the heart of your church. I’m not saying you shouldn’t implement new tactics until your church is ready. But it’s a good idea to have a two-pronged approach to increase giving in your church.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through steps you can take that will help cultivate a giving heart in your church.

These steps are:

  • Talk about money
  • Model generosity
  • Cultivate relationships
  • Cast a vision
  • Share compelling stories
  • Make giving easy

We’ll also cover some practical ideas you can use.

Let’s dig in!

#1 – Talk about money

Living out the Christian faith doesn’t come naturally—or easily.

When it comes to money, you can’t assume everyone in your church knows what to do. I’m not talking about making a deposit, donating money, or creating a budget. What I’m talking about is handling their money in a way that glorifies God and is good for them and others.

In short, you need to help your church know what God says about their finances.

From understanding what the Bible says about money and possessions to generosity and money management, you need to provide practical help for your church.

To do this well, there are four big categories you’ll need to address:

  1. Discipleship
  2. Stewardship
  3. Giving
  4. Money management

The first thing you need to help your church see is that how we handle our money is a reflection of our relationship with God. In other words, money is an issue of discipleship.

Issues of money are really issues of faith.

In the words of Jesus, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). What Jesus is saying here is that how you (or your church) handles money boils down to your heart. In other words, do you worship God with your wealth or worship your wealth? There’s a big difference between the two.

Practically speaking, as a church leader, you have to help your church see that money and faith are closely connected. As you encourage your church to give and manage their money well, you have to get to the root of the issue.

Budgets and plans are helpful, but they’re not the gospel. They can provide short-term results, but lasting change requires us to look at the heart of giving.

Boldly speak into what the world says about money and possessions. Like a skilled surgeon, you have to cut to the heart of the matter by addressing the lies the world promotes. While you’re making these incisions, you must replace the lies with truth from God’s word.

As your church grows in their relationship with Christ, their relationship with money and possessions will change too.

To help your church connect the dots between money and faith, you’ll need to teach them about biblical stewardship, which leads me to my next point.

The second thing you’ll need to consistently do is talk about stewardship.

As you talk about money, help your church to understand what God says about the topic, and the vision he has for them with their finances.

Here’s the deal:

Your money and possessions technically belong to God.

Whether or not we acknowledge this reality, God calls us to manage our finances in a way that brings him glory and is good for ourselves and others.

Not sure where to start?

No sweat.

Download this free guide: The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Stewardship.

But here’s one caveat:

There’s more to money than stewardship.

Stewardship focuses on how you handle your money with God. It’s a vertical relationship. However, God also talks an awful lot about giving and generosity, which influence our horizontal relationships. Said another way, show your church how giving is good for others, which leads us to the next point.

Giving itself is a third key component to getting to the heart of giving.

You’ll find countless verses in the Bible that command, challenge, and encourage you to live a generous life. Not only with your money. But with your time and possessions too.

I’m going to assume you agree with this point.

But here’s one thing I’d like to stress:

Giving is sacrificial.

This sounds obvious, but hear me out.

When you give money, you are giving away your money—literally.

Does God call you to give?

Yes.

Does God ask you to steward your money?

He sure does.

But at the end of the day, you have to make a choice.

You have to decide how much you’ll give.

To make a donation, you will have to rearrange how you spend your money.

This is why giving is called a sacrifice.

Speaking of making sacrifices, most Christians desire to give. It’s a part of who they are. But many Christians can’t give or give as much as they’d like because they’re mismanaging their money.

As a church leader, the fourth thing you can do to encourage giving is  is to provide your church members with practical money management resources.

Here’s the deal:

Likely many people in your church struggle with debt or money mismanagement.

This isn’t a judgment, just a statistical observation.

To encourage your church to give, help your church members break free from the bondage of debt and manage their money well. As your church experiences financial freedom, your church will be in a better position to give.

To do this, you don’t have to be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). From Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to Ron Blue’s God Owns It All, there are numerous resources you can provide your church.

#2 – Model generosity

As a church leader, you need to set a good example.

Not only is this true in the way you live and love like Jesus, but it’s also true about the way you and your church handles money.

There are three ways you need to model a generous life for your church:

  1. Reveal God’s generosity
  2. Be generous
  3. Lead a generous church

First, God is a giver.

He gives us the life we live, and he gave us the gift of his son—Jesus Christ.

As Christian, we give because God gave.

Even though this line sounds like a quote fit for a coffee mug, it’s true. This point ties into teaching your church about stewardship and giving. But it’s also important to point out that God models generosity himself. Help your church to reflect his example.

Second, you’ll need to be generous.

I’m not saying you need to let everyone look at your bank account or watch you make a donation. What I’m saying is that you should lead your church members in giving to your church.

Like a general leading his troops into battle, be prepared to lead your church in the areas of money and possessions.

Side note: It’s okay to talk about what you give with your church. You don’t have to share the details. But let them know—when it’s appropriate—that you give, and make sacrifices too.

Finally, lead a generous church.

The way you do this is by encouraging your staff and church leadership to live a generous life and to ensure your church is generous with your church’s budget.

Regarding your church’s budget, make room to give to local missions, foreign missionaries, and members of your church who may need financial support.

Don’t be afraid to talk about how your church gives.

Your church members will appreciate the fact that you’re sharing with them how the money they give is being used, which leads us to the next point.

#3 – Cultivate relationships

Creating a generous church culture is about way more than padding your church’s bank account. It’s primarily about helping your church handle their money in a way that honors God and is good for them and others.

As you preach about money and teach biblical stewardship, be prepared to walk alongside of your church members during this time. Whether it’s one-on-one or in a small group setting, lock arms with your people to help them reorient their life and money in a way that aligns with God’s word.

Here’s the deal:

It’s uncomfortable to talk about money.

No one—including myself—is really cool with opening up their ledger statement or online bank account to show you what they spend their money on.

Don’t expect the members of your church to jump right on board with living a generous life. There are a ton of different things people may have to work through, including:

  • Poor spending habits
  • Limiting beliefs about money
  • Lack of desire to give
  • Bad money management habits
  • Overspending
  • Lack of earnings
  • Little money to give
  • As you’re involved in the life of your church, ask questions and listen.

You’ll be able to accomplish a lot by preaching about money and providing financial stewardship training. But you’ll be able to help people personally transform when you create a safe environment for individuals and families to talk about their struggles.

One last thing.

As a church leader, consider keeping an eye on your church’s giving patterns. If you or your staff observe changes, in particular, a decrease in giving, then treat this as a clue. There’s probably something going on in the life or heart of your church. This doesn’t mean you have to directly approach members about their giving. But it may be a good idea to be more observant of what’s going on in their lives.

#4 – Have a common vision

At their core, your church members want to make a difference.

They’ve placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and they want others to hear the gospel and experience deliverance from sin, Satan, and death.

To create a giving church culture, one thing you’ll have to do is rally your church members around a common vision.

Here’s what you need to know:

People don’t want to support your administrative or staff costs per se.  

What people want to do is support a cause they value.

Sure, your church members know that a part of their donations supports the church’s operational costs. But they also want to know that their giving is helping to further the mission of your church.

Practically speaking, lead people by casting a vision of what you can accomplish together. Help them to clearly see that their financial support allows your church to reach more people with the gospel, feed and clothe people in your community, support foreign missionaries, and extend the love of Jesus however your church is able.

Throughout the year, share stories of transformation.

These can relate to any of the following:

  • Commitments to Jesus
  • New baptisms
  • Increase in attendance
  • Small group participation
  • Number of volunteers serving

As you cast a vision for your church, remember to avoid abstract ideas. Snatch these thoughts from the skies, and give them life by practically showing your church how their giving makes a difference.

Since storytelling is so powerful, let’s talk a bit more about it.

#5 – Share compelling stories

Your church probably has some “doubting Thomases” sitting around.

You know, the people who can’t believe without seeing.

Don’t worry if you do.

There’s at least one in every crowd.

Sharing stories from the life of your church will not only appeal to the doubters. But telling stories is also a great way to capture the hearts of all church members.

Think about it.

Talking about your annual report by simply sharing accounting facts is enough to lull anyone asleep. Instead, demonstrate God’s work through your church by sharing stories of life transformation.

Here’s one more idea to add to the list above:

Share stories from generous people in your church.

A generous person doesn’t have to be the person who gives the most. Depending on the size of your church, I imagine there are plenty of people who give sacrificially, and I bet they have an amazing story to tell too.

Here are some ideas to consider sharing:

  • Stories from first-time givers
  • Stories from people who decided to give
  • Stories about people getting out of debt
  • Stories about people or families making financial sacrifices
  • Stories about people being delivered from money worries

There’s not just one story you should or can share.

God is at work in the life of your church, and you probably have a few ideas in mind after reading these words.

As you communicate these stories, your church members will have an opportunity to hear from others about their experiences giving to the church.

#6 – Make giving easy

Days, weeks, and months have passed.

You’ve taught your church about biblical stewardship.

The members of your church see how their money supports your mission.

They’re now ready to give.

Now, to help your church express its generosity, you have to make it easy for them to give.

Placing unnecessary hurdles in the way of people interested in giving may discourage them from making a donation. Practically speaking, you have to provide more than one way for people to give.

There’s nothing wrong with accepting cash and check donations, and it’s totally fine to pass around an offering plate or bucket during your worship service.

But do you know what’s not okay?

Not providing online or mobile giving options.

Here’s the deal:

Every year, more and more people give online.

Whether it’s with their smartphone, tablet, or computer, people are making donations online. Basically, many (perhaps most?) people in your church prefer to give online.

Make it easy for this group of people to give by providing them with digital options they prefer, and you’ll experience an increase in online giving.

The heart of giving

Creating a generous church culture takes time.

If you rush this process, don’t be surprised if you break things—namely, your church members.

Treat this as a dance.

Take a step, and see how the members of your church respond. All of their responses will look different, and there will be times when you step on each other's toes.

In whatever you do, be sure to always point your church to Jesus Christ—the Giver who is the ultimate reason for our generosity.