As we make our way through this pandemic shutdown, many churches are lagging behind financially. Sadly, large numbers of our people who see giving to their church as unimportant usually give, when they do give, it is only if they are present in church. Since everything our churches do is in one way or another directly connected to the one-dollar bill, reduced offerings mean reduced missions and ministry.
Missionaries around the world and in our nation may soon face cutbacks. I fear some Pastors and staff members will have to take reductions in pay. In a worst case scenario, some churches may never re-open. These possibilities break our hearts to consider.
To further complicate matters, the financial strain on churches probably will not quickly end after we are able to reassemble. Many of our church members will take financial hits during this crisis due to job losses, salary reductions, increased health care costs, and so on. Some of our people will require an extended time to recover savings they used up. Churches should expect giving to be lower for several months after the pandemic.
How should our churches respond to this monetary setback? We can learn at least one good lesson from the business community right now. There is a lot of network news and social media emphasis on supporting local businesses, stores, restaurants and other hometown operations that do not have the financial backing of a franchisee or national chain. We who have platforms of any kind should be making the same emphasis on behalf of our churches. We need to boldly say most local churches are in this battle alone. They don’t have outside groups helping them. We the people must be challenged to step up to support them.
Another thing I’m noticing is that many businesses themselves are bluntly asking their regular customers to continue supporting them by going through the drive-throughs, and ordering take-out food online. Local establishments are plainly stating the fact that without customer help, workers will have to be laid off, and businesses may die.
The same sort of straightforward emphasis is needed from and for local churches. If our people want to watch a nationally known religious broadcast, that’s fine, but they must be reminded they are part of a local church that needs their support now more than ever, and that will suffer without their ongoing financial involvement.
Pastors, you have to take the lead in this. I urge you to make an appeal for money every Sunday, or each time your church meets virtually. When we are physically together, we always take an offering. The time we set aside in our regular weekly worship service for the offering should now be used to encourage your people to give.
In a Bible believing church, the person who puts the Holy Book on the sacred desk each week is the people’s spiritual leader. This person is the one who can best make an effective, authoritative appeal for money. The salaries of others, including missionaries and staff members, hang in the balance. All of a church’s ministries on behalf of people, are now depending on pastors to raise money. Pastors, don’t be bashful. You might eventually become the voice of a church hanging on by only a thread. Speak up now.
As you urge people to give, tell them they have options on how to give. The ideas are being discussed out there. Each church needs to find the methods that might best be suited for their specific congregation.
Some churches are asking people, if able, to write a check to cover their next month of offerings. This helps a church gain its footing while making plans for the long haul. Some churches are asking people to mail checks, and are offering to take to members self-addressed stamped envelopes.
Online giving is one method making headway, but the older generations, the ones who give the most to our churches, have not embraced it en masse. We must try to change this as quickly as possible. Churches are going to have to teach their members, old as well as young, how to give online. The Missouri Baptist Foundation can help any church with online giving. If a church registers with the Foundation, members of that church can give their offerings online to their church by way of the Foundation. This keeps the church from having to add on any extra office workers.
We at the Missouri Baptist Foundation want to help your church. Your Cooperative Program dollars help support the Foundation. We want you to consider us an extra church staff member, ready at any moment to help in any way we can. We consider it an honor to serve Missouri Baptists. ν