8 Reasons Members Don’t Give Sacrificially and Cheerfully to Your Church

The Bible calls us to give our lives to God (Matt. 16:24), and part of that commitment is giving cheerfully to the work of God (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Many of our members, though, never get to that level of giving. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Few preachers have intentionally and strategically called them to give. Some preachers address giving only once a year. Others preach on the topic only when their church’s financial circumstances demand it. Too few regularly address giving.
  2. No one has taught members how to give sacrificially and cheerfully. Sure, preachers have told them to give, but they’ve not taught them how to give this way (see here for more about “teaching vs. telling”). They’ve preached at people, not led them.
  3. They don’t know role models of sacrificial and cheerful givers. Churches have these kinds of members, but they haven’t utilized their example and witness very well. Their congregation hasn’t heard a “giving testimony” in years. 
  4. They haven’t bought into a grand vision they want to support. Sometimes that’s because they don’t like the church’s current vision; more often, though, it’s because the church doesn’t have such a vision. Giving toward no vision feels like a waste of money.
  5. They don’t know the needs of the church. My experience is that many, if not most, believers will support God’s work when they know the immediate needs. The more specific the need, the more likely it is they will give. If we don’t share those needs, however, they see no reason to give more.
  6. They’re angry at something. Whatever that “something” is may have nothing to do with finances, but members withhold their giving because of their disapproval. Uncheerful people do not make cheerful givers.
  7. They don’t trust the way the church spends money. Whether or not their concern is legitimate, members who  perceive any questionable spending or reporting will give less sacrificially and cheerfully. 
  8. They don’t know how to budget well. Their own budget is a mess, so they genuinely think they can’t give like they should. 

What other reasons might you add to this list? 

19 Comments

  • Bill Pitcher says:

    Here are my thoughts:
    The church is dying–visibly dying. The people don’t want or won’t give to support a dying work.
    Another scenario is that the church has money–maybe even a lot of money–and there is a lack of understanding of the need to give. That’s problem is likely a lot deeper than the perception of lack of need and probably relates to at least a couple of the thoughts you’ve already mentioned.

  • Mark says:

    Some people just don’t have the money to give. That doesn’t mean they don’t give just they can’t give large sums.

    There are also many other very good charities that need money and have almost no overhead, like <1%. Some churches spend 90+% of donations on building maintenance and salaries. Some churches are finally having ministry fairs to show off what they do and where some of their donations are going. However, for a long time, church leaders did not report on the church budget and previous generations just trusted their friends (the leaders) to do right and donated without thinking. Today, there is not as much trust because fewer church leaders and the budget committee are known especially if you have younger members.

    • Tim Aagard says:

      You are right Mark. Leadership Journal’s article on “normal church budgeting” shows it is NORMAL for a church to consume 84% of it’s “giving” mostly to benefit the “givers”. Only 16% on average will go beyond the givers. This consumerism of the giving is DEMANDED by the form of church where hired staffing and special facilities are “required”. Chuck’s text 2 Cor. 9 – the giving chapters are regarding giving to help suffering saints, not hire staff and build buildings for crowd oriented meetings. There is a way taught in the NT where 100% of giving can go beyond the giver. This requires learning from 8 texts where Paul teaches ministry “free of charge”, not being a “burden”, working with his hands. For 500 years Bible experts have used 4 texts to nullify these 8 for spiritual leadership today. For some reason “imitate me” and “I gave this example for you to follow” is rendered meaningless. God is not fooled that the “giving” is consumed to bless the “givers”. Why would he convict his people to contribute to this system? I have written a free PDF book that shows severe exposition error used to justify professionalized leadership. I have been shocked at what I have found with a simple Berean approach to scripture. I used to pour tens of thousands every year into the offering plate, but now 100% goes beyond me. 100% of building up believers can be done for free.

      • Chuck Lawless says:

        Thanks, Tim, for your thoughts. 

        • Tim Aagard says:

          Thanks for acknowledging my post. I was hoping you would want to interact about what I shared. I realize that these concepts are outside the bubble of evangelical church as it has been known for 500 years. But God’s people need to look outside the bubble of church life dominated by a professionalized version of leadership. Every hired Bible expert in the country can only externally tweak the current practice. They have a conflict of interest in recognizing the core fallacies. Having been raised in this form I am aware of the scripture that is used (twisted) to justify it. I am not a Bible expert. I am “merely” a layman, but I read the same Bible you do and have no conflict of interest in recognizing the systemic corruption. This may sound disrespectful. If I can demonstrate it is twisted, then the real truth needs to be practiced and spread to others.

          If you want to help God’s people learn to give generously and not consume 84% of what they “give”, then we must look beyond the current assumptions and uses of God’s Word to resolve the corruption. Every brand name of church from coast to coast practices the current system. Shallow giving is present in every single church because they all practice the same system. There are very few exceptions.

          The “word of Christ” will “dwell richly” in our lives as we “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom”. Can you learn from a layman or only your peers?

  • Daniel says:

    Because they’re buried in debt. From car payments and mortgages, to medical debt, credit cards, and student loans, people in our churches today carry unprecedented levels of personal debt. After trying to service all that debt, there isn’t enough money left at the end of the month to give generously and sacrificially, not matter how well they budget. Money management is rarely taught in schools, homes, or the church. Typically by the time someone reaches out to ask for help, they’ve made such a huge mess with their finances that it takes years to dig out. Many of our people feel like they should know how to manage their finances better, so they never reach out for help because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. But they also don’t give generously. A debt free household, like a debt free church, is uniquely positioned to give generously and sacrificially. Unfortunately, both of those are rare in 21st century America.

  • David Rutledge says:

    Most pastors and church leaders are buried in personal debt, and that is the way they lead the church.

  • David says:

    Practical question. How do you give a “giving testimony” without it coming off the wrong way. As a the Pastor I don’t know who gives in my church and I want it that way. I just see this having so many opportunities for going bad with claims of favoritism, bragging, arrogance and so forth. I am sure it can be done “right” I just need some direction. Is this testimony given in the main service? New members class? Small groups? Any advice is appreciated. I am a first time pastor, less than 2 years in so I need lots of help.

    • Mike Massey says:

      Also, how would that work with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6)?

    • clawlessjr says:

      I agree, David, that this could be badly–as could any time you give somebody a microphone. I do think, though, that you can find members of your church who give (without your knowing the amount or percentage) and who can humbly talk about what they’ve learned about God’s grace in giving. It’s easy to talk not about my giving, but about God’s faithfulness, about the people whose lives are influenced through our giving, about learning to budget well in order to give, etc.

  • Robin Jordan says:

    While a number of pastors do preach sermons on money management and even hold money management workshops, these sermons and workshops are often as not directed at those who have not encumbered significant debt and are struggling to pay off this debt. Banks, loan companies, and credit car companies expect those who are indebted to them to make agreed-upon payments in the agreed-upon amounts and according to the agreed-upon schedule and penalize those who do not. They do not accept “I had to pay my church tithe first” as an excuse. Pastors and churches need to offer people realistic advice and concrete help not only on how to avoid debt but also on how to get out from under crushing debt.

  • Steve Schoonover says:

    I think we need to examine the adjective, sacrificial. If I can not point to something that I have foregone in order to give to my church, then, no matter the amount, it is not sacrificial. The excuses, and there are tons of them, that are used to justify not giving almost always have their basis in, “I don’t have enough to afford it.” Until people accept that all they have is a gift from God, the idea that money and possessions they “own” is theirs will promote an attitude of, “It’s mine, I earned it, and I get to do what I want with it.” Make no mistake, if the leadership is not tithing, any suggestion that others should do so will ring hollow. I believe the Bible is quite clear about how we choose to use that with which we have been entrusted. You can concentrate on getting what you want in here and now or in the eternity that Christ has promised. Folks who choose the former, forfeit the latter.

Leave a Reply