Asking for Money in the Early Days of the Church

Is there a way to increase giving by getting out of the mentality that giving is a discipleship matter in an early church?

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Many a church planter has wished money grew on trees. It would sure ease a lot of stress in the early days of the church. A healthy goal for any new church is to be self-sustaining financially. The sooner that happens the better. It’s typical when fundraising to base your outside support on needing supplemental funding for the first three years. Assuming that by typical you are planting in an area whose people are financially stable themselves. Planting in poverty-stricken areas changes the game substantially.

To become self-sustaining, the people who become a part of the church must give. The problem for many planters is many of the people coming to the church are pre-Christians. Asking people who are just at the beginning of their faith journey is awkward for many planters. Let’s be honest, we are afraid we’ll scare them away.

Stewardship and financial giving is a discipleship matter. The logic goes that this person isn’t even a disciple yet. How can I ask them to act like a disciple when they haven’t even made the commitment? Rather than point out the folly in this logic, which is easy, I’d like to suggest a different way to think about it. While on a call with a management team chair and bookkeeper for a planter today, we had this aha moment. Asking for money doesn’t have to be a discipleship matter. In fact in the early days, it’s more likely asking for money is a vision matter.

You are casting vision heavily in the early days of the desired future of the church. If pre-Christians are coming even sporadically, then there is something in the vision that’s attractive to them. The ask is for them to support the vision. You’re not asking a pre-Christian to give as an act of worship to a God he or she isn’t sure about yet. You’re asking them to buy into a vision of transformed lives and communities.

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The typical offering time in a new church excuses pre-Christians. It goes something like, “If you are new to this church, know the offering time is an act of worship for those of us who call this church home.” I have lots of hangups with these types of statements. If you didn’t excuse them from your sermon, then either a) your sermon wasn’t an act of worship, or b) you are afraid to call people to worship God through giving. While I understand the hangup—trust me, I’ve been there and said those words—there is another way. Ask them to give to the vision. And then invite them to begin living out the vision with you. If you do that, the funds will come in and you will allow people who aren’t disciples yet to contribute to something that’s important to them. If they can give to the vision of the Red Cross, they can surely give to the vision of the church. Just don’t forget you are called to disciple them, and that does include teaching them what the Bible says about money, too.

Doug Foltz
Doug helps church planters clarify and implement their vision. He stands alongside church planters leveraging 15+ years of church planting experience with over 40 new churches to chart out a path toward realizing the God sized dream of making disciples through church planting.
  • Chris Sloan

    Why do we always follow the same routine of hang-ups when we believe that money solves everything? Do we trust in money more than we trust God? I’m sure ‘Church Leaders’ revitalizes the paradigm of American socio-economics that we need money to change the world. Yes, we need to give to further the gospel, yet America is by far the nation that needs to stop trusting in money and start trusting in God! We have plenty of money but do we give? We have plenty of resources but do we take the time to talk to the next person that needs Christ? I believe cross-cultural missions is a special calling. I believe it to be a permanent mission instead of just a week-long session of helping with a VBS project. What if we instead invested our money in one person that desires to receive the training in biblical leadership rather than sending 30 kids to a place where they will hold an “event” where discipleship isn’t monitored. The stats demonstrate the effective calling. A week-long “mission” does not effectively play out the gospel. Christ, the God-man, made his dwelling with us, humbled himself as a servant even to the point of death on the cross. Are we willing to pay that price!

  • Dan Jones

    The early church gave all they had, and it was given to them as needed… This is what we need to get back too….

    Always be a light that is .shininginthedark.