Should the Church Ask for People’s Stimulus Checks?
April 28, 2020 | By Katharine Yarnell
We have received this question on Facebook and wanted to touch on it.
Should the church ask for people’s stimulus checks? Umm… probably not. Think and pray through it carefully.
Here is why…
- People probably need that money for basic needs. With so many people unemployed, furloughed, facing pay-cuts, choosing between rent and medicine, or rent and food, why add guilt and shame at not being able to afford handing away these funds? We do not know how long this recession will last, how deep it will go, or what secondary effects it will have. We do not want to be guilty of “devouring widows houses” (Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47).
- If people do not need that money for their basic needs, they probably have enough that they could give more, and support the church at a greater level during this crisis. People should be excited and cheerful about their gift (2 Cor 9:7). If they are not cheerful, it is not the right gift for them right now.
But the church is struggling financially! What should I do?
- Do the math. Are there enough attendees to support the budget? Divide the budget by 50, which tells you how much of the budget would (on average) need to be given each week. Divide that number by your average weekly attendance. Then think about how many couples and children you have attending. Is this a reasonable number for a weekly offering from every person? You can find this information about your congregation here. What are the giving dynamics of your congregation? Do a few families support most of the budget? What percentage of the budget does the church give for mission? How did your church recover from February 2019 with the 3-4 weeks of church cancellation? Have people supported the ministry online, or sent in funds?
- Focus on the mission. I recently received a pink slip (yes, a literal pink slip of paper!) from a church I had given to, and it was a terrified plea for help. This may encourage people once, but “no one wants to give the last gift.” You want to communicate the reality of the situation, but constant panic is not a good strategy. What is still happening through your church? Even a weekly texted encouragement or a Zoom Bible Study should be celebrated.
- Work with your church leadership, and make a plan. There are boatloads of resources to do this:
- Iowa United Methodist Foundation Resources
- UMC Discipleship Ministries Resources
- UMC Giving
- UMC Giving: Generosity Pastor and Leaders Kit
For short-term annual campaigns – From Cokesbury
For tax-savvy giving:
For long-term financial planning:
- Marketing Kit for Church Endowments – Workshops
- Sample Language – How to Give a Gift in your Will
Capital Campaign Playbook: An Insider Look at a Church Consultant’s Game Plan by Greg Gibbs – Church Unique 2019
Capital Campaigns: Everything You Need to Know by Linda Lysakowski – Charity Channel Press 2011
Extraordinary Money! Understanding the Church Capital Campaign by Michael Reeves – Discipleship Resources 2002
Retirement Plans Information: