64% of churches are optimistic about total cash gifts to their churches going into 2022, according to a study done by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).1 That was the opening line in our post last week on the 2022 state of giving and offerings. When we see national statistics like this, our team is always thinking, “What about MBC churches?” Last year we started a regular series with a few pastors at a time and asking their perspectives on various topics. We came to call these posts Missouri Baptist Pastors Speak Up.
As we start the New Year, we wanted to get an assessment from MBC pastors on how giving was going in their churches. And since Mark Brooks, The Stewardship Coach, is writing on the offering all month we thought it would be a good time to let Missouri Baptist pastors speak up about giving and offerings.
We asked a series of questions that ranged from their church’s giving through the pandemic, the impact of online giving, and their views about passing the plate. Here are our questions and some of the comments we received.
We began by asking, “Has your giving declined, stayed the same, or increased since COVID began? What would you attribute that to?”
Randy Shipman, Pastor of First Clinton, said, “It has increased. Several things may have contributed: God’s grace, clear vision, modeling generosity in the community by responding to needs, and new language – worship through giving versus taking an offering.”
Greg Fine, Pastor of First Higginsville, gave this reply, “We have been blessed to see our actual giving increase slightly since COVIC began. Several factors contribute to that, I believe. First and foremost is the grace of God. But we also made choices to be good stewards of the resources we were receiving, making plans to cut spending in the event of shortfalls which I believe instilled confidence in the congregation that we were being good stewards. I also believe our online giving option has been a tremendous help in maintaining our giving levels. While not taking a physical collection in worship, I talk about the different ways to give almost every Sunday and utilize the Stewardship Journal’s short giving talks many of those weeks.”
Ken Parker, Pastor of First Kearney, said, “Our giving actually increased. I think our people wanted to make sure that whatever we felt we needed to do in ministry could continue unhindered.”
Matt Culberson, Pastor of Faith Festus, gave this perspective, “We saw giving increase. We have seen lots of guests and have had some very faithful and generous people join. Employment in our area is high and thus the economy has provided people with discretionary income.”
Adam Claxton, Pastor of Antioch SBC, Harrisonville, said, “We had an overall increase. Partly due to increased attendance and partly due to increased faithfulness.”
Two years into dealing with COVID we wanted to know how people give but also the act of taking up the offering. We asked, “How has the offering time changed since COVID for your church?”
Randy Shipman commented, “With COVID we moved our offering to the end of worship and have ushers posted at the exits for people to give as they leave. We have continued this practice and are likely to do so for the future.”
Matt Culbertson gave a similar reply by saying, “We no longer pass the plate and instead have giving baskets at the exits.”
Ken Parker agreed by saying, “We don’t pass the plate (still). We have ushers at the back doors where people exit and simply ask people to give there or to give online.”
Adam Claxton said, “We went from passing plates to an offering box in the foyer and an emphasis on online giving. We still have an offertory prayer and song.”
Many churches have seen an increase in online giving compared to on-campus giving. We wanted to know what MBC pastors were experiencing. We asked, “What was the percentage of online vs onsite giving before COVID, and what is it now?”
Matt Culberson might have won the banner when he answered this question by saying, “Prior to Covid our online giving was about 25% of all giving. Now it’s almost 70%.” That was the highest percentage of an increase we heard about.
Greg Fine stated, “Before COVID our online giving was only about 7-8% of total gifts received. That was due in part to the previous provider of online services. Since COVID our online giving is approximately 30% of our total giving.”
Ken Parker gave this reply, “We were at about 16-20% of our giving coming online pre-Covid. Now about 40% comes in online.”
Randy Shipman said, “Our pre-COVID (2019) online giving was 14% of our budget offerings and 2021 online is 18%, yielding a 4% increase. Our on-campus giving is up 13% compared 2019 to 2021.”
We did hear from a few pastors that felt online giving had not significantly increased but most did see some increase.
Our final question to MBC pastors was this, “What are your thoughts about the offering time for churches moving forward?”
Adam Claxton had an interesting view when he said, “I appreciate the opportunity COVID provided to step back and think about how we handle the offering. Many churches passed plates because that’s what we’ve always done, not necessarily because they thought it was the most biblically faithful approach.”
Matt Culberson agreed saying, “I don’t think it will ever go back to ‘passing the plate.’ Online, text to give, etc. will continue to be the primary platform for giving.”
Greg Fine summed up the views of all the respondents by saying, “For now and the immediate future, I don’t believe we will return to a physical passing of offering plates in worship. We will continue to promote giving using a variety of approaches and making offering plates available for those who utilize an offering envelope to make their gifts.”
While our Missouri Baptist Pastors Speak Up posts are certainly not scientific data, it does give us a window into what is happening across our state. Reading what these men have written about the state of giving in their churches, we might safely deduce that MBC pastors are optimistic about giving and the future of the offering. Thanks, men, for sharing your story and thoughts.
If you would like to be on our contact list for future Missouri Baptist Pastors Speak Up posts, email Rob Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.