Why Churches Ask For Money? – 7 Truthful Reasons

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It’s no secret that churches often ask for money. In fact, it’s one of the most common topics of discussion about church services. Some people get frustrated as their church asks for money. What are they doing with all those donations? And why should Christians be giving to the church anyway? We will explore the top 5 reasons why churches ask for money. We will also discuss some of the misconceptions about giving to the church, and explain why it is so important to support our local congregations.

Churches ask for money in order to pay for pastors and staff to lead and teach. Churches need funds for individual church ministries such as children and students, for facilities and maintenance, worship services, outreach, building construction, and many other categories.

In terms of what a person will give to their church, we would encourage you to seek God and make that decision yourself or along with your spouse or family. Many Christian teachers use 10% or “the tithe” as a marker for giving and others believe that the tithe is an Old Testament concept. Since this article is not about how much we should give, but rather why churches ask for money, we will speak about that elsewhere. However, we would recommend reading The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn as a resource that can greatly help you as you make decisions about your giving.

The Treasure Principle, Revised and Updated: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving
  • Hardcover Book
  • Alcorn, Randy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 07/18/2017 (Publication Date) - Multnomah (Publisher)

Ultimately, the Bible instructs us to give to the church But, let’s take a look at some reasons and a few specific categories of why churches ask for your money.

Reason # 1- To Pay Its Staff.

Well, this section will be the largest of this post because this is where the largest segment of the money goes. Studies have shown that approximately half of a church’s budget goes to staff salaries. As the church grows, more ministry is required or needed.

Therefore they look to more staff members to achieve their goals. When churches ask for money, let it be no surprise that the largest expense is for personnel. Even with very small churches that have a single staff member – the pastor, the largest percentage of the budget may well be his salary.

Many churches teach the principle of tithing. Although it is quite admirable to tithe 10% of your income, there are very wide interpretations about whether or not 10% is the standard for New Testament believers. You can find many resources that teach many viewpoints on this subject.

As we ponder these questions we need to recognize that there are staggering differences in the numbers of church attendees in small churches vs large churches. Remember that the small churches vastly outnumber the large churches.

According to Lifeway Research in 2020 the average church attendance on Sunday was 65. since COVID took a lot of people out of the pews and they watched on their couches that number may be quite different now.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the so-called mega-churches. I actually attend a church of many thousands that I totally love, but have also attended churches of a couple of hundred in the past. In today’s larger churches there are all types of positions to be filled.

First, you have the senior pastor. He has the largest area of responsibility and should be compensated for such. We’re not going into actual salary numbers, but unless the Sr. Pastor is in one of the EXTREME mega-church realms, he’s not getting rich.

Of course, then you have the Worship Leader, Worship Pastor, Music Director…whatever your church calls them. If a church has a very vibrant music program, they need someone who is trained enough to lead and run the music program. When a small church begins to grow you can typically see that a trained music person may very well be the church’s second full-time staff position.

Then there is the Youth Pastor, certainly a very important position today. The church may have a minister in charge of small groups or adult ministries, and let’s not forget the many churches that have a children’s pastor who has an extremely important role.

Usually, the larger churches have an executive or administrative pastor who oversees finance, payroll, and a host of other things. Some churches (and I think it should be more prevalent) have a Senior Adult Pastor. Also, don’t forget the costs of janitorial services for which many churches hire staff. Personel is the largest contributing factor as to why our churches ask for money every week.

So, there are all kinds of flavors of church staff members. Some larger churches have production or technical staff. For many years I was blessed to lead worship in a church that had an on-staff technical director.

I will reserve my opinion about the number of paid ministers in a church for later in this post. However, you can see that, whether you are dealing with a small or large church, about half of the church proceeds go to personnel.

Reason # 2- To Pay For the Building and Facility Upkeep.

Churches ask for money because of the high cost of building and facility maintenance.Tithe.ly reports that 23% of church expenditures go to facilities. Having worked in smaller and larger churches, I can attest that, even if you don’t owe on your building, the upkeep and repairs are never-ending.

Today’s utility costs, HVAC systems, painting, roofing, plumbing, ground maintenance. It all adds up to a tidy sum. As a young minister, the churches in which I served had a part-time paid janitor. In the larger church where I served from 1998 until 2019, we had a crew of janitors. The place was large enough that one full-time person couldn’t do it.

Things wear out, they break with years of use. I can remember some massive repairs on some traditional church buildings just on their steeple structure.

With many churches using their buildings more during the week for various events you have more wear and tear on your facilities. Therefore, the cost of the facilities, in general, is quite large for many churches.

Reason # 3- In House Ministries and Discipleship.

When I say “in-house” I mean ministries to the various organizations that are a part of the church. A church may have a small group curriculum all the way from preschool to senior adults. They usually have quite a need for money in the preschool, children, and teenager ministries.

That cost can include expenses such as supplies for events of all types, food, and many other resources for the younger ages.

In addition, some churches may own buses or vans that quite a few ministry groups use, so you have the maintenance and upkeep on those. Generally, in many churches, each department will submit a request for a portion of the budget for the upcoming year for their particular ministry. When our churches ask for money you can know that many times it will go to help in these areas.

church asks for money

Reason # 4- Technology.

When modern-day churches ask for money every week you can be sure that somewhere in there will be expenditures for technology. I remember as a small child I would be fascinated by the single small microphone on the pastor’s pulpit.

It was there simply to amplify the pastor’s voice when he spoke and others who may have been a part of the church service including the music director and maybe a soloist.

Well now, that has changed quite a bit since then. In the area where I live there are no venues that are as consistently ready for sound, lighting, and multimedia experiences as some of our local churches.

Good audio production and quality for a team of vocalists and instrumentalists do not come cheaply. Modern churches typically project lyrics onscreen and many have quite a bit of professional lighting. When there was the movement to begin streaming church services online years ago that brought in another expense in technology.

So, it’s good and bad. If technology can help us communicate the word of God better, hear the songs of praise better, and help nurture our worship experience – great.

Can you have a good church that doesn’t have all of the modern technology? Sure you can. They are all over the world. God’s church is His people wherever they gather. If it’s in a room with technological marvels or in a hut in the jungle, God’s church can function well if His people worship, listen, and are obedient to God’s word.

Reason # 5 – Missions/Evangelism

When churches ask for money I wish more of it would go to missions and evangelism. Unfortunately, and I think- sinfully, these areas get the short end of the budgetary stick. Your church may be much higher or much lower, but many will come in close to 10% if you count every area of outreach that the church does locally, domestically in-country, and in foreign countries.

I went to parts of the former Soviet Union on 5 different occasions in the mid-2000s. I’ve been on mission trips to churches in some northern states that needed help. I’ve gone to Canada with a team to help some small churches up there.

And, of all places, I was sent to Siberia to help train some budding church musicians. I was fortunate enough and the church was doing well enough financially that I paid hardly anything out of pocket for those trips.

However, there are many volunteers who went with me, and many other teams of people who volunteer their own time and money to do ministry like that. There are many volunteers who minister on foreign and domestic soil. COVID19 played its part in interrupting that for quite some time, but now things are opening up for Christians to span the globe sharing God’s word to the nations.

It’s very biblical to minister to your community and scripture tells us to minister to all of the world. Quite a bit of the local outreach is done through the local church budget and some of the foreign missions are funded from church budgets also.

However, a lot of the funding for personal mission trips comes from fundraising, both personally, and as a group for a person or a team to travel outside of the country to minister. So, it’s not unusual for a person to generously give funds when their churches ask for money for the budget. Then they give additionally to individuals for a personal mission cause or mission trip that someone is having to personally fund.

Reason # 6- To Build More Buildings.

When churches ask for money it may very well be in conjunction with the construction of another building. The modern American church builds structure after structure after structure. Don’t get me wrong. I attend a large church and it takes a large building. However, they didn’t borrow a massive amount of funds and build an ornate church building.

They bought an old warehouse type of building and gradually refurbished it into what is a nice building today. It strikes me as a nice building that is pretty inside and well kept, but not ornate or over luxurious if that’s even a phrase.

I think it’s a good trend that we see so many growing churches having multiple service times rather than continue to build and build onto the same location. To be honest, I’m not sure what the figures are today.

However, way back in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that churches in the US had spent over 3 Billion with “B” dollars on church construction in just a year. Can you imagine the impact of that kind of money on the poor, the needy, the widows, the orphans?

I’m not at all saying that all of those building expenditures were not justified. I am saying that it’s a question that we must ask. Do we need more and more buildings, or is there a way that is far wiser than that and a way that frees up dollars for the “least of these?” When our churches ask for money, we need to be confident that it’s going to where God wants it to go.

Reason # 7- Debt Reduction

When our churches ask for money it may very well be for debt reduction, That is the case for quite a large number of churches. I mentioned that I have served full-time in four churches in my life. When a church has a heavy debt then it can be severely hampered in funding the ministries where funds are needed.

When a church does not have “margin” in its budget because of the stress of debt, it can be quite overwhelming. In my first full-time church as a young minister, after a large building campaign put us in heavy debt, I’ve been handed my paycheck on Sunday and told not to cash it until Tuesday. The funds were running that low.

Debt can be one of the church’s strongest enemies. It can literally kill a ministry. It can take the fire out of the pastors, and the staff, and it can discourage the congregation.

I’ve known pastors who went to their deathbeds saying that a church should NEVER borrow money. Then on the other side of the equation, you have those who say that a moderate amount of debt for a church is acceptable in certain circumstances.

I don’t know where that hard line is, or if there is a hard line, but I know we had better be careful as churches when we consider debt. The lingering effects of a large debt may force your church leadership to talk about money more than you want and more than your pastor and staff want.

The banks want their money. So, we should be careful about debt. If you support and believe in a God-honoring church that has debt and you have resources that can help it pay the debt off, then that may be just what God wants you to do. That is for you to decide.

Anyway, we hope your church isn’t deeply in debt. However, there are quite a number of churches that are and there are all sorts of campaigns and strategies to pay off buildings and reduce debt.

Is It Past Time For Restructuring?

I may sound critical here at this point, but there are thousands of leaders who have been posing questions like these for years.

Should We Rethink and Simplify Our Church’s Efforts?

I remember leaving my first full-time church after about 6 years. I loved that church and those people. However, I was young and disorganized. I was full of energy, but when I took stock of everything I was trying to do it didn’t seem like I was doing anything well.

It’s a bit like that in a lot of churches and it has been said many times – “We are doing too much stuff.” “Well, what do you mean we’re doing to much stuff? This is the church of Jesus Christ and you CAN’T do too much stuff.”

Yeah, you can.

Carey Nieuwhof calls it “Random Programming.” I’ve done it. I’ve seen a lot of other ministers and volunteers do it and it IS a problem. It goes kind of like this.

As your church gets larger with more and more people with various needs, you begin to want to add more and more programming and ministries. Sometimes pastors and other leaders do this because they have heard from God on the issue.

At other times they do the new activity or ministry just because the people demand it. The church up the street has that kind of ministry. Why can’t we??

Leaders don’t want to disappoint their people. And, sometimes it’s not the right time or wise to begin a certain specialty ministry that some might want. Leaders who are afraid to disappoint people or lack an alternative strategy can cave and allow dozens of random programs to emerge in their church.

Although they may be fine ministries, they can ultimately sap resources from what should be the main focus of the church. An individual church can’t be all things to all people. But, oh how we try!

I can’t improve on the following so I’m going to quote Rev. Nieuwhof on the issue of Random Programming.

The bigger your church, the more you will be tempted to add programs and ministries.

Why? Because people demand them.

Leaders—afraid to disappoint people or lacking an alternative strategy—cave and allow dozens (or hundreds) of random programs to emerge in their church.

These programs can be counter-productive for numerous reasons: They compete for money, time, and attention.

Lead nowhere in particular.

Cause more division than unity (ever try to shut down a women’s ministry or men’s breakfast?).

They become their own mission and compete with the overall mission of the church.

Why does random programming not work?

Simple: because random programming pleases insiders but rarely reaches outsiders.

Instead, be strategic and focused. Do whatever helps move people the most clearly and deeply into a growing relationship with Jesus, and do whatever advances your mission into the city.

Make no mistake: What people become involved in becomes the mission. So choose carefully.

Make the mission your mission.

Carey Nieuwhof

I think those are wise words. We have got to rethink all of the things we are doing.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. I hope wiser, but I’m not so sure. But, our churches have become such a church of hired specialists. The Lord knows I made a lot of my living by serving churches.

I appreciate the value of paid full-time ministers. But where does it stop? Sometimes churches continue to hire various new staff “specialists” for some ministries when they aren’t paying their current staff members as they should.

Somehow, I don’t believe God is pleased with that in the long run. People are so anxious to get on a church staff and ministers are anxious to have them. Yet so many existing staff positions come with small pay and little or no benefits, yet churches dream of the next ministry specialist they can hire.

I’ve never been the Senior Pastor, but have been at the level where staff decisions are made, so I’ve been guilty of some of the things in which I’m being a bit critical.

Yes, there are quite a few staff positions that are necessary. The larger the church, the more staff members you may need to minister to the people. Thank God if He provides the necessary finances to hire them.

But where is that line? How many ministries, how many “professional ministers” do we hire? Have we become churches full of people who might give financially, but then sit back and let the “professionals” do the ministry?

It’s like the “buildings” topic. It’s great to have nice buildings, but where do we draw the line?

It’s great to have a good solid staff of pastors and other paid team members, but where do we draw the line there? I’m just asking the question. I’m not at all certain about the answer. But, I am fairly certain that we need to ask the question.

As church members, we need to be aware of how God’s money is being spent and encourage our church leaders to make wise decisions about our money and ministries.

Summing Up

I am so thankful to God for all of the years I have spent in church ministry. My son seems to be following somewhat on the same path and I’m so proud. He serves a church in a full-time capacity as I did.

Many of the things that are written above are necessary expenses. I think the question may be “in what degree?”

More than once it’s been said that if the churches would reroute more of their dollars to minister to the poor, the elderly, the widows, and orphans – that we could change the world in a spectacular fashion. How true is that, really? Probably very true.

May God give us the wisdom, knowledge, and courage to work toward that in a more fervent manner.

  1. Missionaries go all over the world but they neglect the United States. Who are we to preach when our own churches are empty?

  2. I share your concern that we need to have our own churches full. However, of the several million full-time Christian ministers, only a small percentage of them serve in a foreign country. Most of them remain in their own country. The U.S. has many churches and church leaders. The Bible instructs us to do both. Minister to our home nations and abroad. I, too, hope we can do a better job. Thank you so much for reading!

    Brian Sloan

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