How to Encourage Giving in Times of Economic Uncertainty

Church giving in times of economic uncertainty


Turn on the news and you’ll hear plenty about how the price of everything going up – housing, cars, food, gas. Or simply head to nearest gas station or grocery store and look at the prices on the shelves.  Economic inflation used be something we learned about in history class. Now we’re seeing it happen in real time.

Inflation is currently affecting everyone and everything, including churches.  As everything continues to cost more money, paychecks are not reaching as far as they used to. So what does this mean for you and for your church? How can your church deal with the impact of inflation? Is the decline in your weekly giving numbers a reflection of an average summer giving slump or an indication of a bigger problem?

These are all valid questions to ask. They are not meant to alarm you, but to equip you to lead and shepherd your church more effectively. So today, I want to unpack a few things you can do as pastor to lead your church through a time of economic uncertainty.


While the current economic crisis is new, economic uncertainty is not. After all, we’ve just come out from two years of unprecedented change due to living through a world-wide pandemic. Here at Simplify Church, we’ve done our best to provide you with tools and resources to navigate your church finances through the pandemic.

You can read more about managing your church budget in a crisis, 3 steps to survive the 2021 church giving slump, and how to build a post-pandemic church budget.

These are foundational principles that your church should operate by. There are practical things you can do to stay on top of your church finances and ensure that you are being a good steward of the resources entrusted to your church.

If you are noticing a dip in your weekly tithes and offerings, you may need to sit down and re-think your budget allocations for the year. We’ll have another free training coming up in the next several weeks to walk you through how to do just that.

But I think something that can get lost in our efforts to be good stewards of church finances and manage money and resources effectively is the need for pastors to talk to their congregations about what is happening in our economy and encourage giving in church.


Last month, I shared six things you can do to increase church giving in 2022. I also recently shared videos on our Facebook page about common objections people have for why they don’t give and how to overcome them. In this article, I want to focus on how we can specifically encourage giving in times of economic uncertainty.

Remind people that even in the midst of uncertainty, God remains in control 

Yes, things can feel out of control. Yes, we might not know how things will play out. But we have a choice to walk in fear or walk by faith.

Nothing surprises God. In all of history God has been in complete control and His way is perfect. Even when we don’t see how things are going to work out, God has a perfect plan that will be completed regardless of our input. As Matthew 6:28-32 reminds us, that our heavenly Father knows what we need.

When we’re in the midst of the uncertainty, it can be difficult to see the way out. It’s equally as difficult to share with someone the fact that God has the plan. But nonetheless, it’s our role as pastors to remind people of this fact.

One way to encourage giving in economic uncertainty is to remind people that God is in control.

Remind people that God’s commands haven’t changed

One of the biggest objections to giving in the church is a lack of understanding of how and why we give. People want to know, what does the Bible say about giving in the church? Why is giving to the church important? Does tithing mean giving to the church? Why should I give to the church? How much should I be giving to my church? Does it matter how much I give? Can I just give when I happen to have excess cash with me?

While our circumstances might change, the truth of God’s word and his commands for us do not.

As pastor, you must communicate both what God has instructed us to do and why those commands are not dependent on our current circumstances.  God spoke through His word thousands of years ago in a time that was different than we have now. But even then, he was in control and was working through His perfect way.

God has given us everything. And He has called us to give back to him the first fruits of our labor. Not the excess or leftovers. Or in times of plenty. If the economy was good. If you had a bumper crop.  We give back because He first gave to us. Regardless of our circumstances or current situation.

It is challenging for some people to give when they are facing bills and notices for payment in the mail but the fact remains, God is good and He provides.

Remind people that God rewards faithfulness

I am not saying that because someone gives, God will reward them with health and wealth. However, it is clear that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).  God hasn’t called us to give in a legalistic manner, but rather He looks at the heart and the intent of the gift.

If a person remains faithful to God and gives because they love the Lord and know that’s a step of spiritual development for them, it has been shown time and time again that God responds to that person in ways they may never have imagined.

Cultivate a heart of generosity at your church

One of the most important things you can do as pastor is talk about the how and why of giving and foster a heart of generosity in your congregation. When we don’t want to think about or talk about giving, it often comes from a place of fear.

If you approach giving out of fear or obligation, that’s the message that will be communicated. And that message is not compelling. A heart of generosity is not birthed from a place of fear, but out of trust and joy in following Christ. What is truly needed is not a five-step program to get people to give more, but a complete identity shift; a change in how we define and talk about generosity.

If you are ready to stop focusing on an uncertain future and start cultivating a culture of generosity in your church, regardless of economic circumstances, then download our free guide to Building a Culture of Radical Generosity in your church.

Learn practical steps to begin building a culture that transforms the way your congregation thinks about money.


Remind yourself of these same things.

While it’s tough to see the end in sight in times of uncertainty, we can remember that God continues to be faithful. These times are not new to him. We need only remember to stay the course and encourage people to lean into the Giver of Life. 

Pastor, how will you use this economic uncertainty to make much of Jesus? 

Can a Church Show a Profit?

It’s the end of the year. You sent out an end-of-year giving letter and your congregation responded. 

Suddenly you have more money than you anticipated having. But then you worry: 

  • Is this a bad thing to have excess funds at the end of the year?  
  • Do I need to run out and spend it immediately? 
  • What should I do with this money? 
  • Will we lose our nonprofit status? 

You can breathe a sigh of relief. You’re not about to lose your status.  

There are four big questions that churches frequently ask about end-of-year finances. What most churches want to know is: 

  • Can we have a surplus of money at the end of the year? 
  • Should we aim to have a surplus at the end of the year? 
  • How much of a surplus should we aim for? 
  • What should we do with that surplus? 

When we say surplus, what we’re really talking about is the amount of money a church has after all donations and income have been accounted for, and after all expenses have been subtracted. In accounting terms, this is either a “profit” or a “loss.” 

Terminology is important here, since churches are not-for-profit organizations. As a not-for-profit, there are strict legal guidelines and laws that must be followed. Therefore, we need to be careful with the term “profit.” In this case, the more accurate term would be “net proceeds.” 

Let’s address each of these questions in order. 

Q1. Is it okay to have a surplus of money at the end of the year? 

The short answer is yes. Just because you’re a church doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t show a “profit” at the end of the year. 

A nonprofit can make a profit.  

But there are limits to what you can do with that profit. 

Your not-for-profit status impacts what you can do with the money that is left over. It ultimately it comes down to the purpose of your organization. 

A traditional for-profit organization makes money for its owners or shareholders. Profit is usually distributed to shareholders or put back into the business. 

On the other hand, a not-for-profit must have a “public or charitable” purpose. This means any end-of-year surplus should be used for a public or charitable purpose. 

What does this mean for you? As a church, you cannot distribute that money in any way to shareholders, investors or other people that may have a stake in the church.  

Pro tip: Just don’t give that money to individuals in any way at the end of the year. 

Q2. Should we plan to have money left over at the end of the year? 

You should absolutely have money in the bank at the end of the year. That is simply being a good steward of the resources God has given your church. Plus, it just makes smart financial sense.  

You want a financial cushion to prepare for the unexpected. This could be an unexpected expense, a downturn in giving or simply an unexpected opportunity. 

Q3. How much should a church plan to have left over after all expenses have been paid?

 The quick answer is it depends. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We’ve seen churches approach this question in a variety of ways. 

Some organizations take a very conservative budgeting approach. They intentionally plan to spend less than they anticipate they will receive in a given year.  

Other organizations budget based on what they received in the previous year. They then take whatever excess they receive from growth and allocate that money at the end of the year. 

Still others plan for an end-of-year giving campaign that they hope will bring the organization surplus at the end of the year. 

 I’ll give some more thoughts on this in a moment, but first, let’s discuss the last question. 

Q4. What should we do with this money? 

The answer to this question is also, it depends. Some churches allocate this surplus for specific needs within the church, some use it to establish savings and some use it to fund future ministry growth.   

Our advice is to strike a balance between savings and ministry. It’s always a good idea to save for a rainy day. In church life, you never know what the next week, month or even what tomorrow may bring. It’s fiscally responsible to have some margin in your accounts that allows for flexibility and financial security in the organization. 

It’s also good stewardship, however, to be able to distribute those funds to missions, local ministries or other ministry needs of the church. Does your church need some new equipment that perhaps you’ve been putting off? Does your facility need updates or improvements? Are you able to bring on some staff support or outsource some work that is causing you additional stress? 

However you choose to allocate these funds, the bigger point is that having a surplus at year end puts your church in a position where these decisions can be made. It gives you options. 

Let’s return for a moment to the previous question of how much to put aside. 

While it’s true that the exact amount depends on the circumstances of your church, there are a few principles that can guide us in this discussion. 

We’d contend that having too much left over at the end of the year means that you didn’t fully invest into your full ministry potential. Ultimately it comes back to the foundation of stewardship. We are called as churches to be wise stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to us.   

Stewardship involves both saving and investing. Good stewardship means that we’re using the resources to expand the mission of our church. It also means that we’re not putting our organization in a financially untenable position.  

If you want to learn more about how you can better steward of the resources God has provided your church, or you simply want to gain a better understanding of how to effectively manage church finances, sign up to receive free church finance, administration and growth tips delivered right to your inbox.  

If you’re ready to take the next step of taking the burden of managing your church finances off your plate, then let’s schedule a time to chat! We’ll show you how having a done-for-you financial management and accounting solution can help you and your church thrive! 

It’s time to change the way we talk about giving in church!

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