Should Churches Show the Offering in Weekly Bulletins?

church bulletin

I remember growing up in the same church for almost 20 years and getting a bulletin every week. It’d show the sermon notes from the previous week along with the current week’s notes and a few other events to put on your calendar.

But there was one thing that always caught my attention – the offering amount section. Maybe it was because I was always interested in finances, who knows?

I’ve never given it much thought until awhile back when I looked through the bulletin of our new church. It had been a while since I attended a church that showed the weekly offerings, so I had to pause and ask myself: “Why do churches show the offering amount in the following week’s bulletin?”

  • Is it meant to spur generosity through peer pressure?
  • Are church members supposed to feel guilty if they don’t give enough?
  • Is it simply meant to share the needs of the church with the members?

To be honest, I don’t think many churches know whether they should or should not include the offering amount in the bulletin. I’ve been to small churches that do and large churches that don’t; but I don’t think that it’s necessarily a matter of size for a church to show or hide the offering amount.

A Peer Pressure Giving Tactic?

This thought came to mind as I was thinking through the psychological reasons a church might put the offering in a bulletin. Some might look at it as a way to spur generosity through peer pressure. This, however, is clearly unscriptural.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

I don’t think churches (in general) would show the offering amount to pressure people to give. I’ve never felt a pressure to give more or less because of looking at the previous week’s offering, because my giving is a personal matter.

A Responsible Way to Stay Accountable

I know some people absolutely do not want to hear this, but financially speaking, a church needs to manage its offerings and expenses much like a business would handle income and expenses.

As a member of a church, you are financially supporting the church with your offerings and should take interest in how the church is doing financially. We can do this by attending business meetings and doing our part to help the church run more efficiently.

One way that we can look at the bulletin’s ‘offering given and offering needed’ section is to think of it as a brief snapshot of the financial picture. If we want to continue supporting the ministries in the church, we need to understand that each one has costs! It makes sense then to see why a church might show the offering given/needed each week if you look at it this way.

I don’t think I can make a blanket statement on whether a church should or shouldn’t show the offering given/needed in each bulletin. There are good consequences in knowing that the church is being supported but there are also some negative thoughts that can come from knowing how much is being given. For example, there will always be people who think offerings should be used in a different way.

So what are your thoughts? Should a church show or not show the offering given/needed section in the bulletins? Does your church show the offering amount in each week’s bulletin? Leave a comment!

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  1. Ryan

    The last two churches I have attended have listed weekly offerings, weekly budget, yearly offerings to date, the total budget to date, and the total amount above or below the target budget.

    I like this, because it gives the congregation a sense of where we stand as a church and how we are doing on our budget. Does it affect giving? I’m sure it does to some degree. But I’m sure many other people will simply give what they were going to give anyway.

    More importantly, it shows transparency to the congregation. No one will have to wonder how the church is doing because it is there for everyone to see.

    I don’t think it would work for every church. Both churches I attended that did this were in the 300 member range. I don’t see this being effective for a mega church. Would people be inspired to give more money if they saw weekly offerings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or higher?). Possibly not, simply because they may think the church has enough funds.

    I can see it working both ways.

  2. Rachel Wilson

    I don’t mind seeing the offering amount from the past week but what I do mind is when a church puts an offering needed amount on the bulletin. I personally think it is tacky and distasteful and causes a lot of peer pressure giving.

  3. Kenneth

    Although I like seeing the offerings in the weekly bulletin I believe that the “total package” of offerings, expenses, and budget comparisons should be in the monthly newsletter sent only to members. This allows the information to be distributed only to members and perhaps in a manner than can be presented more effectively.

  4. Dan

    Good points Ryan. The membership needs to see where the church stands financially, in terms of meeting budget targets or not. Of course with non-profits and churches specifically, giving varies by date, and the later months typically see more donations than earlier in the year so you shouldn’t look at the numbers from a linear perspective, compared to budgeted amounts. Unless you publish the run-rate, someones observation my be skewed. I recently read two good books on this subject, by J. Clif Christopher; Not your Parents Offering Plate, and Whose Offering Plate is it? He really opened my eyes on this topic.

  5. Scott Burdett

    At the church that I currently serve as a staff pastor, we publish the the previous week’s giving as as well as the amount needed weekly to meet budget. The elders want to be transparent to the congregation regarding finances as we believe it builds a trust among leadership and congregation. In addiction, we provide a quarterly statement that provides details regarding expense totals in each budget category and various account balances.

  6. Janey

    ABSOLUTELY agree the financials should be openly displayed in the bulletin each week. Our church discontinued this disclosure a few years ago, and I wish it was not “hidden” from the membership. Including in the bulletin does show transparency, but also let’s the members see their tithe in action. Our church (a fairly large, mega-church wanna be in Hixson TN) doesn’t even really have actual business meetings. An announcement is made by the Pastor of Church Administration, and no discussion is permitted. For our “convenience”, we are furnished a copy of the financials they want us to have… IF we hadn’t been members here for 30+ years and like the pastor, we’d RUN.

  7. Omar Carreto

    I think church is a business in a way there is money involved in every aspect, a plan is required and must have a vision to expand. The congregation should know what is going on with their faithful investments…because there is a lot scammers and fake leaders out there looking for a piece of the cake. I used to go to thin clan of churches where they would ask for offering like if you where at a car auction…no lie this church organization still out there ripping people off with their lies not even showing balances as always claiming to be out of funds. That is why I believe bulletins are a good clear way of church saying your investment is for the Lord’s glory not to fill our pockets also this creates pressure like a bill to pay or accountability to your faith, but in the end only God knows what was right thing to do about tithes and offerings. GBA

  8. Sila Henshaw

    I agree with churches transparency. I use to look after our church’s giving and because that time we were building a new church, I was the one who was buying materials etc. I have to report every end of the month on how much we collected and spend. I would give an account of everything and our Pastor would encouraged the church to continue giving. To our church we were focused on serving the Living God and it encourages us to give more and people never complained at all because we wanted our new building to complete.

    By that time I moved overseas and I left the takings with my sister to follow up with the builder to complete the building. The builder never did anything till after three years I sense the Lord was speaking to me to go back to my country to see what was going on. I flew back and found the builder and spoke to him about why he was delaying to complete the building. He told me that he was going to do it.

    I flew back overseas and the following year they opened our new Church. To my surprise my sister told me that builder supplied everything for the inside of the church. God supplied everything for us. God is great!

  9. James C

    I have to believe that the information is put in the bulletin to prompt giving. What happened before bulletins gave that information? Was it announced from the pulpit? You probably had to go to a business meeting and you still might not get that information.

    Churches have often forgotten whose money it is that they are spending. Don’t get me wrong. I am not the type to starve the preacher’s family. With that said, churches often spend money on things that fall into the category of “Wouldn’t that be nice!” instead of “How will God be glorified through this?” An example of this is what is often called church social halls. There is usually a full kitchen with range and refrigerator (running 24/7). Yet the only people fed are typically the church folks themselves. If the church wants to eat together, then let them go to a restaurant and eat together instead of using what should be God’s resources to feed themselves.

  10. Gregory

    Our church prints the money numbers in the monthly newsletter, which I think is a good way to disseminate the information, or at least strikes a fair balance between transparency and pressure.

  11. Sandra

    A church IS a business…a not for profit business and the “folks in charge” NEED to be accountable and held accountable in all dealings. In the majority of churches I’ve attended, there is a board in the front of the building, to the side of the pulpit, that shows attendance and finances.
    As to peer pressure, no one can make you feel pressured other than God. We need to stop blaming others for our poor choices. Accountability first begins with me.

  12. Stephen

    it should not. the priest received it on behalf of God he is accountable to God not the people

  13. Barbara Martin

    we have a small congregation less than 300 alot of our folks like to see a visual, for instance we need about $90,000 dollars to have some problems with the church fixed, I wanted to make something like united way uses so they could see each week how close we are getting to our target amount.Could someone tell me how to make something like that?