How To Increase Church Volunteers & Giving

Two things most churches don’t seem to have enough of are workers and money.  What you may not realize is that these two issues are spiritually related and you can implement a simple strategy to bolster both of these important resources.

General stewardship principals teach us to give of our time, treasures, and talents.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21 that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Treasure certainly implies money or wealth, but actually was probably intended to denote a broader spectrum of those things we feel are important to us. Not only do your members’ money follow what they feel in their heart is important, but so do their time and talents.  Giving of time, treasure, and talents is a heart, or spiritual issue.  What is interesting about Jesus’ quote is that he clearly states that in whatever place you store or invest your treasures, that is where your spiritual center (heart) is.

This passage raises a question much like the chicken and egg question; which comes first, your heart or your investment.  In reality, we see examples of money following heart (that is why missionaries visit churches), and heart following money (your devotion to a particular stock symbol once you have invested in a company).  What is important is to remember that they are linked, so the best strategy to increase both workers (investment of time an talents) and financial support is to implement a strategy that works both ends towards the middle.

If you can convince people of the need and importance of serving, and engage them in doing so, you should also expect an increase in giving from those people.  A recent study, the national study on volunteering just released by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (“Gift Fund”) and VolunteerMatch, showed Americans who volunteer their time and skills to nonprofit organizations donate an average of 10 times more money to charity than people who don’t volunteer.  If you engage their heart in serving, their giving goes up.  Conversely if you clearly teach your people about biblical giving, thereby increasing their financial support, they will be more likely to serve, since they now have a greater heart interest in the ministry. Pastor testimonials show that a clear, compelling, and unapologetic teaching of biblical giving principals on an annual basis increase giving 10-30% or more each year.

Addressing both the financial need and the need for workers is done in similar fashion.  As churches learn from annual stewardship programs or capital stewardship campaigns, to get people committed to giving you need to do four things. First, you need to provide the biblical basis for what you are asking; you need to lay the spiritual groundwork. Secondly, you need to clearly communicate the need that exists.  The third step is to clearly and unapologetically make the call to action – tell them what you need them to do and challenge them to a specific action (exhortation).  Finally, the last step and the one where many churches miss the boat, you need to hold them accountable to respond.  While you may not feel as comfortable with this step as the others, you have to take seriously what James said, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

All too often pastors across America will just toss the concept of giving out there and hope the congregation responds.  People need to be exhorted in the truest sense of the word.  Strong’s Concordance has, as the definition for exhort (parakalountev),  “to call to one’s side, summon, admonish, beg, encourage, and instruct.”  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines exhort as “to incite by argument or advice : urge strongly.” From the pulpit we need to lead, instruct, and exhort in every sense of the word.  In general, most people only rise to the lowest level of expectation.  In large part if you toss important ideas out there hoping they will act, the people will probably think about it, but not act.  Often times they only think about it until the end of service.

If there is one thing we learn from church fundraising, you have to have personal dialog with people to get them to invest, whether it is their time or their money.  You have not because you ask not.  But only asking from the pulpit makes it a general issue and everyone assumes someone else will step up to the challenge, and when no one does, people generally don’t feel bad because the are just doing (or not doing) what everyone else is.  Exhorting means you not only need to make it clear over several weeks from the pulpit, but you also need to get face to face with people and make the personal appeal by exhorting them in the truest sense of the word.  At the end of the day, it will be a blessing to the church and to the person giving of their time, talent, and treasure.  So get out there and preach it, teach it, beg if you need to, and incite your people to a Godly response.