This past weekend we tried something that I've never heard a church do before. It's probably been done somewhere, but it was definitely a first for us.
We were finishing up a series on tithing. That wasn't new for us...we've done a tithing series every year since 1986 when the church began. We've almost always done the series in January, but this year pushed it to July to avoid the building campaign.
During the annual series, we have always challenged our congregation to begin tithing. Often we've included a commitment card and encouraged them to prayerfully decide to change their lifestyle and begin giving 10% of their income for the first time. Just see what God does.
This is a huge step for most people. Especially since Granger is the first church-experience for so many people, and they didn't grow up going to church or learning disciplined giving.
So this year, we didn't ask for a long-term commitment. We didn't ask people to change their lives and begin tithing forever. Instead, we just asked for 1 week. We picked a weekend and said, "We want the entire church to tithe on one weekend. Figure out what you make in a week, and bring 10% for your offering that weekend. Just test God for one weekend, and see what happens." We talked about it for three weeks and then this past weekend was the big moment of truth.
It wasn't about getting a huge offering. Money is just a symbol of what is going on in our hearts. We wanted to give people a taste of the freedom that comes in obeying God with your resources. We know that if they test him, God will prove faithful.
- 1400 families gave something. That is about 600 more families than participate on a typical weekend.
- Our offering this weekend was more than double what is normal. We saw an increase of 123%.
- There were 131 brand new donors who had to be entered into our database (which means they've never participated in anything, attended an event, checked in a child, or received a mailing).
- Our per-adult average giving this weekend was $72.49 -- which is far above our average of $26.40.
Does all of this mean we got a "win" this weekend? I don't know. If the response is indicative of a heart condition, than yes, people took a step and as they continue to take steps, God will bless them individually and us as a church.
My prayer is that our giving will stay up at least 25% from what it was prior to the weekend. I think that will indicate a true heart change for scores of families.