All of us, at one point or another, have been given the responsibility of taking an offering. I’ve found that most people in ministry are clueless about how to make an appeal.
The average pastor or minister sounds almost apologetic for asking for an offering. That, to me, is a sin. We should never apologize or sound apologetic for asking God’s people to support a ministry, evangelist, minister or group. If someone is good enough to come to your church, they are good enough to support.
I would encourage you to take love offerings instead of budgeting for outside guests/revivals. One, this will help your people to understand they are responsible for what is given. Every church has freeloaders and we will always have them. However, we must not shrink from presenting the need.
I learned a long time ago that it is important to take a good offering. Most churches do not take care of those who come to minister. Some don’t even give the minister or the concert artists the entire love offering.
I served a church in Mississippi as a youth minister in the early 1970’s. One night, we had TRUTH come in for a concert. The contract clearly stated a set amount or ‘love offering if greater.’ I took the offering we took in several hundred dollars more than the set amount. While the finance committee was counting the offering, they talked among themselves and decided to keep the overage and use it to concrete a drainage ditch on the church property.
Needless to say, I was ticked off. When confronted, they justified, excused and basically, in my opinion misappropriated funds. If someone gives to a specific event and you use it for something else, you’ve been dishonest at best. That church began to die a slow and painful death in the following years. I’m convinced God will never bless a church that doesn’t take care of his servants.
Over the years, I’ve been privileged to be a part of giving churches. It was my privilege to give the late Ron Dunn the largest love offering he ever received. It was my privilege to take two of the largest offerings TRUTH ever received.
Since the 1990’s, the church I serve has averaged giving a Bible Conference or revival speaker somewhere between $10,000-12,000 in love offering plus expenses. We always offer to pay for the spouse to come at our expense. We make sure our guests stay in comfortable quarters. We are committed to ministering to the minister. Not all churches are.
We make sure we give at least the contract amount for concert artists. I think it is shameful to have an artist in, sign a contract and then give them less than the contract calls for. It’s called integrity and most churches don’t have it. If you sign your name to a piece of paper, you better pay the piper.
Please allow me to suggest some ways to take an offering. These are some of the things I do to communicate to our people that what we are doing/giving, is important.
One, you have to give yourself. I’ve watched pastors and others take offerings and ask for money and never write a personal check. My wife and I never give less than $100.00 to a love offering. We’ve given as much as $1,000. We budget and plan for love offerings. We anticipate the expenditure.
Two, tell your people you are giving. If it’s a concert, I talk about the average price of a ticket. At one recent secular concert, tickets ranged from $75-250. each. Why is it that Christians want concerts for five dollars? If I’m going to a concert, or hosting a concert, I will give what I would have to pay for a secular concert ticket. That means, for my family of four, I’m averaging $100. per person.
Three, explain why it’s important. Talk about how many churches don’t live up to their word. How preachers may be blessed in one church but another church will stick them. I’ve preached meetings where it cost me to go. They didn’t even cover my expenses and thought they were doing me a favor in asking me to come. You might give the person a great love offering and some will say, ‘That’s a lot of money.’ Just remember, they may have someone down the road cancel meeting.
Four, I’ve discovered that taking love offerings never hurts your budget giving. In fact, it does the opposite. It teaches your people the joy of giving. They make a difference in lives. It’s a personal investment. Don’t budget for something and rob your people of the joy of giving. You may supplement in your budget, but trust the Lord and tell the people. Most will do what you ask.
Five, give all the offering to the person. Don’t take out expenses. Budget for expenses. Tell the congregation that expenses are covered in the budget. Don’t keep one dime given in the offering for expenses. Those expenses are the responsibility of the host church, not the speaker or artist.
Six, tell your people in advance, before the artist arrives, why they need to come prepared to give. Don’t let them walk into an event and say, “I didn’t know…I didn’t bring my checkbook…”
Seven, teach your children and youth to give. This is not just about mom and dad. How many times have churches planned concerts, events for children and students and they never give. I’ve watched too many young people put a dollar in the plate and then go spend fifteen dollars eating pizza after the concert.
At our church, we’ve learned the joy of giving. I can recall one night when a visiting evangelist was on his way overseas to train pastors. He sponsors conferences for pastors in South Africa, Ireland and Hungary. It costs $750.00 to pay the expenses for one pastor to attend the conference. This covers travel, hotel and meals. That night, I told the church I was paying for one pastor to attend. I asked if ten people would join me. Immediately, thirty eight people stood to say they would sponsor a pastor. Every one of them fulfilled their pledge.
Right now, we are trying to pay off over seven million dollars in debt. We are, in many ways strapped for cash. I’ve asked our church to double their giving to get this debt paid off. At the same, time, we are still taking love offerings. It’s time we stopped apologizing for asking God’s people for the money that he has given them. Of course, if the minister is stingy and doesn’t know the joy of giving, the people will be greedy as well. Don’t apologize, expect them to do it. Encourage them to do it. Show them how to do it. Watch God bless your church and those who come to minister to you.
©2002 MCC Used by permission. This article is copyrighted by the author and is for your individual use. Reproduction for any other purpose is governed by copyright laws and is strictly prohibited. Michael C. Catt, I Left My Mind in Mississippi…But I Still Have My Ministry (Columbus, Ga.: Brentwood Press, 1994), p. 76-78
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.