I was shocked when I attended church this Sunday. I get an occasional Sunday off so I get to take in a service at a church I am not leading. It was a great Sunday with good worship, and the commissioning of a new Lead Pastor. But one thing was missing: the offering. There was no offering received as part of the service. There may have been some information regarding giving on the slide announcements that were playing prior to the service, but I didn’t notice them. On the way out I did notice that there was a “giving station” on the wall. There may have been a few. I don’t know what you would do at the station but it must have been a way to give financially to the church.
Now, you may be wondering why I was shocked, and why I would make such a big deal about this. Here’s why.
First, I know that the church is struggling financially, and had to let a few staff members to in recent months because they couldn’t afford them.
Second, giving of our tithes and offerings to God and the work of his kingdom on earth is part of what following Jesus looks like. It is part of discipleship.
Third, if we want people to do something, we need to make it as easy as possible. Do you want to have your congregation learn how to give back to God, trusting Him to provide all their needs with the remaining money they still have? Then make it easy for them to do so.
We need to make it easy for people to do what we want them to do, whether we are leading an organization or leading a church. Whatever you want your team to do, make it clear and easy to do.
As we entered 2023, I encouraged our church to read the Bible, every day. In fact, I encouraged them to read the whole Bible this year. I printed four different Bible Reading Guides that followed different reading strategies from reading straight through the Bible from beginning to end or jumping around to different topics. I was hoping that at least one of these methods may appeal to people who had never read the whole Bible. Each Guide was a different color, and we included a lengthy description of each guide in the Sunday bulletin, with descriptions in the color of the Guide. I announced that these Guides were available, for four weeks in a row, continually reminding the congregation to choose their plan and begin reading. We placed the guides in a display at the information table everyone walks by every Sunday, making it easy to grab one on the way in to the service or on the way out. We did everything we could to make it as easy for people to choose a reading plan as possible.
As for the way we take up the offering, we do a few things to make it simple and clear how and why we do it. We have a clear step by step direction in the bulletin as to the various ways people can give, including online and in person in the service. We place offering envelopes on the chairs so when people come in for the service, not only is it easy to find an envelope to put their offering in, by prominently displaying these envelopes, it is a reminder that we value their financial gifts to the church. We always include a time in the service when we pass a basket and invite members to drop their financial gift in the basket as it goes by. Just before we pass the basket, we take a moment to talk about why we give and how we do it, thanking everyone for their faithful and willing giving. We pray, inviting God to bless the offering for His work. The whole process doesn’t take long, but it shows we value that part of discipleship and want to include it in our worship service.
As you consider an aspect of your organization or church where you want people to take a certain action, think about how to make it as simple as possible. Explain the purpose and instructions for the activity in multiple ways so it is accessible, and provide materials and time to complete the task. If you want people to fill in a certain form, begin by clearly explaining what is expected in an accessible medium. It may be a public announcement, an email, or text, or even a phone call. It may be a combination of these along with a clear statement explaining each step. Along with the direction, provide a designated time and deadline for completing the task. For example, if it is an evaluation of an event, give the participants time right after the event, or a few minutes the next office day after the event. Make sure that everyone has access to the correct form in a format that is as easy to access as possible – providing each person their own copy (and even a pen) is the most effective for ensuring they will complete it. Do whatever you can to make completing the desired task easy to do.
We all have expectations of our congregation or our team. Let’s do the work to make sure that it is as simple as possible for them to meet your expectations.
Keep looking up,