8 Reasons People Don’t Give to Church

The following is a guest post from Patricia from Smart Church Management. She has created an online course to help churches be more effective with their staff and she provides church consulting services to help churches fulfill their call by managing the resources God has given them – people, time and money.

Churches exist to develop people in the Christian faith and to spread the message of the Gospel. While the Word of God is free, often times spreading the good news is not and it takes money to do so. I cringe when I hear people (especially Christians) say things like, “they just want my money” or “look at the jewelry that ‘preacher’ is wearing”. These kinds of comments reflect a heart that needs some adjustment but also is a sign of someone who does not have a good understanding of one of the most basic biblical principles – which is giving. So why don’t all Christians support their church?

8 Reasons People Don’t Give to Their Local Church

1. Don’t Have a Home Church

We live in a consumer driven society and the church is no different than the restaurant or store down the street. People expect a good experience and when they don’t have one they will shop around until their needs are met. This has created a “church-hopping” culture that affects not only the person’s ability to become involved but it also affects the church donations that that person represents.

2. Don’t Understand the Concept of Giving

Giving is a very clear biblical principle and there are countless references to it in the bible. Many people don’t understand this basic principle because they have not had teaching on it and have some basic misperceptions.

3. Not Committed to the Mission/Vision of the Church

People want to know that what they support financially makes a difference. This places the burden on the church to articulate a defining mission and vision that church members can buy into and support. This requires the church to be constantly sharing its mission and demonstrating its impact in its community.

4. Bad Church Experience

There are some people who may have been givers in the past but had a bad church experience and just pulled back on their donations. This can be the result of an offense or from having strong opposition to the way church does things. Regardless, the bible is very clear about offenses and the fact that we are not to be led by offense but by love and forgiveness. After all church leadership is made up of people – and sometimes people disappoint us but that doesn’t change the call nor the responsibility we have to support the mission.

5. Don’t Agree with How Finances are Managed

Some people may be involved in a local church but don’t agree with how church finances are managed so they stop giving to demonstrate their disagreement. The reality is that supporting the church financially is returning to God what is His and church leadership is accountable to God for the management of those resources. Once the donation is made it is then between that church leadership and God. So whether someone agrees with how finances are managed or not, does not affect that person’s responsibility to sow it.

6. Unemployed

When people are in between jobs and in financial crisis it can be difficult for them to give to the church. For this reason, the current economy has had such an impact on churches all across America. It is important to have an emergency fund to carry people through financial setbacks but it can also help the church keep its doors open.

7. Support Other Ministries

There are a lot of great Christian organizations and some people choose to give to those nonprofits that are having a significant impact in the world. People tend to sow their money toward those organizations that are efficient and effective in fulfilling their mission. This puts a huge burden on the local church to demonstrate their ability to fulfill their mission by transparently showing how finances are efficiently managed and the results of their efforts.

8. Think Others Will Do It

Some people just figure that others will fill in the gap and don’t feel responsible for financial support. This kind of attitude, if embraced by the church at large, could be catastrophic and hinder the progress of Christianity.

Many churches have experienced financial hardship over the last few years and the economy has resulted in many churches cutting programs, merging with other churches, filing for bankruptcy and sadly some have been forced to close their doors. This is unfortunate because if more Christians stepped up to the plate and took personal responsibility for supporting the local church, many of these problems would not exist.

What do you think? Do you support your local church?












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32 Comments
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  1. This is an interesting topic. I think – more often than not – folks aren’t committed to a particular church. When you get involved, become a member and vest yourself into the body – you are more apt to give.

  2. I agree with Aaron – most of these reasons stem from not sticking around one church long enough to understand that it’s a good investment. If you don’t agree with the mission of the church or how it’s run, why are you sticking around? Go find another church you can support.

    I’d be more interested in seeing why people who are on the membership rolls of a church choose not to give – what’s the ratio of reasons 6, 7, and 8?

    Our pastor always says that if you aren’t invested in the mission of our church, please give elsewhere (but do give!) – “We’re doing fine; we have plenty of people who are invested so we don’t need your money.” We give 10% to our church and give to other organizations with additional money.

    I’m not sure what we’ll do when we move and have to find another church – give all of our 10% elsewhere for a while, save up to give a big offering when we settle down again, or give a large parting gift to our current church?

  3. “Once the donation is made it is then between that church leadership and God.”

    No, the church leadership should always be accountable to the members. Far too many congregations have failed to hold the leadership accountable and that has created the power vacuum that has led to abuse after abuse — sexual exploitation, financial embezzlement, moral depravity, reducing the Christian message to a personal political agenda, sermons indistinguishable from messages of hate, etc. We were not called to be sheep to be fleeced by church leaders, but to be brothers and sisters in Christ. We all equally stand before God, but we also stand accountable before each other.

    We are not absolved of responsibility when we hand over money to our leaders. Being a Christian isn’t that easy. To say that our responsibility ends when we put money in a collection plate creates temptations for the leadership to both sin and squander offerings to God.

  4. Interesting article and great points. I think there is a definite connection between your commitment to the church and your willingness to give, but I think there is a more basic concept that may have been missed here.

    Are we talking about tithing or giving, because they are different. As it relates to tithing, there is very little education within the church on this biblical principle, although there are numerous specific references to this in scripture. For some reason unbeknownst to me, most pastors struggle in communicating this principle well, as if it is self-serving, when the reality is tithing is a critical element to a believer’s faith.

    Tithing is a spiritual discipline where God teaches us complete obedience and provision. I have counseled a number of people over the years concerning this principle and they are scared to tithe. There’s not enough money in the budget to tithe and so on. What I have learned through my own personal journey is in the physical realm that may be true, however, God is not limited by the physical realm. He makes it work; he provides in ways we can’t anticipate as we grow our faith’s sea legs. It is an elemental and foundational method for strengthening our faith in God.

  5. I agree, those committed to a church and buy into the vision will ultimately be the ones to support its mission.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Patricia

  6. At the end of the day, none of these reasons matter:

    “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. – Malachi 3:8

    In my opinion, if you believe in God, and the Bible, you have no excuse. One day God will ask you why you stole from Him. Are you going to tell Him, “Well, I couldn’t find a church” or “I didn’t like the budget this year?”

    • @james,

      This is exactly the verse that came to my mind too. If that’s not enough to convince you, read on. God says he will curse the whole nation for withholding the tithes. Then he says you can test him in this. If they bring their whole tithes to him, he will throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing there will be too much to store.

      I don’t know exactly what that means, but it sounds like some excellent motivation.

  7. Great thoughts, right on! Thanks for the comment!

    Patricia

  8. It’s great to see people stand up for the church! It’s a trend to devalue the church and retreat to more individualistic forms of worship and spiritual growth, but we cannot get away from the fact that God plans for His people to be built up in community and organize their giving and missions through the local church. Sometimes I find myself forgetting that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church!

    There are surely some abuses by churches that have contributed to a church-hopping culture, so it is encouraging to see an author acknowledge those while still seeing the church’s necessity and condemning a selfish, church-hopping attitude. Thanks for this article. It addresses many tough issues in a balanced way.

  9. Thanks for the comment!

    Patricia

  10. James Corbin

    5. “Don’t Agree with How Finances are Managed”
    If you know that church finances are wasted, squandered, or worse, sent to a denominational headquarters that is financing things diametrically opposed to the Bible, and you know of these things and continue to give, then you have some responsibility in that. We are supposed to be stewards of what God has given us and He doesn’t tell us anywhere to check our God-given wisdom at the door. The divine right of kings or church boards no longer can be used for an excuse. Too many churches buy like consumers; the first thing they see that they like, they buy it. No real thought is given if this is really needed and if it is a proper use of God’s money.

    With that said, I do faithfully support my church, but I do know that they manage their finances faithfully.

  11. Great points James! Thanks for the commenting!

    Patricia

  12. Great points all around.. I do think there is one more…

    Point 9 would be ‘Lack of Faith’. I believe people don’t give, because the don’t trust that God will provide for all their needs if they part with the money. They feel they need it in order to make their bills, etc. This ‘faith’ is missing and causes people not to give and use the money for something else.

    I once watched a video of a man in Japan with massive gambling debt. He said his ‘secret’ to getting out of debt was through tithing. Once he had the faith to give, the Lord worked on his behalf in the ‘unseen’ and helped him remove his debt. Today he is debt free. Yes, we serve a great God.

  13. Sherri

    I have been in much prayer over this issue. As a board member, finance com. member & treasurer, I am very disappointed in how our church handles money. I speak up but am one voice that doesn’t make a difference. I am stepping down from my positions as I cannot represent the people I love and know how monies are being spent. Yes, we support missions but would we if we weren’t required by the general board? I see so much waste and I know people are dying of hunger and diseases in other countries and we sit in our comfortable pews and go to our potluck dinners and pile our plates high. I know that my Lord is a “world” God – not just my community. It has been God that has opened my eyes this last week and given me peace to step down from these positions. I cannot agree at all that once we give the money, we can think we’ve done our part. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves and who is our neighbor? If we can put a well in another country for $4,000 but choose to spend it on a sound system, I just can’t do it. Too often the world is out of our vision but it is not out of God’s.

  14. Yes deciding how resources are used is a big responsibility and can be very difficult at times but should be driven by the vision and mission of the church. A well defined and articulated mission and vision can help influence decisions about every area of a church but particularly how they use their resources.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Patricia

  15. OBONDI DARIUS

    Indeed salvation is very quite difficult if we keep on interrogating issues which are beyond our hands.In the Bible is very clear that do it to Glorify me (God). I can think that this are the Last days which are Prophesied in the Bible that,a daughter will turn against a mother and a son turning against a father.
    To Churches why do we turn against our leaders over misappropriation of Church funds,Church projects…?
    A time is coming for winnowing where a good seed is separated from the bad ones and its covers.The Bible encourages us,do not do it by yourselves, leave it to the Almighty God for he is the vine dresser.AMEN.
    The early Church used to assist the need people in the community by donating food,construction materials,clothes and beddings and even paying school fees.
    Woe to the present churches!! They do not even visit the sick church member.
    But the Bible Gives us hope that, let us leave every difficult,contradicting and burning issues to the Lord for Himself to judge.obondidarius@yahoo.com,let God forgive us all wherever we have offended.Amen.

  16. When your having a hard time financially and they spend over $5,000.00 on an keyboard instead of helping the members that are having a hard time. It just seems obvious THEY don’t need my money my family does. And they are oblivious to the needs of their own people, but not their organization. Church would care about it’s members more than it’s toys.

  17. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Victoria

    Very good points. When we struggle with this issue, I see it as a lack of faith and disobedience to God. Just excuses. Yes, the church leadership should be accountable to its members and to God as to how funds are allocated. If that’s a concern, you can study the life of the church (i.e. Are they in keeping with the church mission?; Are ministries in the church flourishing?; Are people being helped physically and spiritually?, etc.) and decide if that particular church is worthy of your seed. If you are not comfortable supporting that church, find one that you can. Ultimately, we need to have the mindset that we are stewards of that which BELONGS TO GOD. He only asks us to choose the soil and plant the seed. Period. Where it ends up is HIS CONCERN.

  19. Great points! Thanks for commenting!

  20. Sherri

    I am looking now for a different church. I have gone there for over 30 yrs. and it is a difficult decision. I believe churches (not all – but the majority) are in serious jeopardy according to the Bible. They spend on “fluff” and our neighbors throughout the world are dying by the droves. And yes, there are many orphans and widows in these countries and the Word tells us to take care of them. That doesn’t just mean in our community and our church. It makes one highly disappointed in churches today.

  21. No matter your reason for not giving it is not justifiable.The truth is if you don’t give to God you will give to the devil either way there is a giving but why not give it where you are sure of a blessing

  22. Great insight, thanks for the comment.

  23. Wow

    We cant talk about tithing to the church without understand what a church is.

    First I will get into what a church is not

    It is not a building
    It is not an organization
    Its not about religion

    There is to be only one church per city not comprised of members belonging to an organization but brothers and sister in Christ who have bough with the blood of Jesus. So when you give to your bothers and sister in Christ you are tithing and giving to the church. It is absolutely false to say that you must give 10% to the organization which you happened to attend on Sunday that false ans sets up a completely unbiblical understanding of church. You give and serve not to build of an organization but to edify the church to which there is only one per city to state other wise.

    I believe in tithing but the old testament view of 10% is rather insufficient. We are to give everything to Christ and offer our lives as living sacrifice this is true worship of which tithing is important but a small part.

  24. You missed the most important one: No accountability of too many churches. God expects us to be good stewards of His money.

  25. i believe in giving my finances to support my local church. it gives me an opportunity to be a blessing in the lives of other people and God blesses me in turn for my faithfulness in giving.

  26. Pastor Joseph

    this is interesting. there is an adage that says some people have heads but no cap while some have caps but no head”. I pastor a church fellowship outside the Houdegbe North American University. Benin Republic. of which all members are youths but we have no one to give to the work of God or the construction of our church. we all make contributions from our allowances given to but it’s not sufficient enough to run the church programs or reach out to lost out. I pray God helps those pastors who don’t place values on God’s money committed to them to realize the consequences before its too late.

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