Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. Even with all the commercialization, twinkling lights, inflatable yard decorations, artificial trees, endless parties, and Hallmark specials, Christmas remains magical for children and adults alike.
The Ghosts of Christmases Past
For those serving in church leadership or part of the church staff, so much work goes into creating just the right environment to celebrate the Advent season. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing the lights, trees, poinsettias, candles, and wreaths throughout the church building? Christmas joy is so contagious that you can hear the entire congregation join in singing carols. In my lifetime, I’ve seen churches celebrate Christmas in many ways. Some churches have candlelight midnight services. Some have annual cantatas (I remember the controversy when a church used laser lights as part of the program back in the early 90s – oh the drama). Still, others put on a children’s choir or the living Christmas Tree presentation, while some churches keep it simple and read the Christmas story as found in the gospels of Matthew or Luke. I remember when a live nativity was a must-have for every church. Yes, even the church where I work brought in farm animals and bales of hay for Christmas Eve in an attempt to celebrate the humility of Christ’s birth appropriately. Regardless of the effort that goes into creating the perfect atmosphere throughout the building, genuine awe and wonder happen inside when people hear the Gospel message.
God Exemplifies Generous Giving
As a follower of Jesus, I believe there is something about the indescribable gift of God coming to earth as a human that brings out the best in people. Since we are created in His image, it makes sense that we, too, want to give. And there’s data to back it up. December accounts for 30% of all charitable donations, religious or not, and 10% of annual giving occurs on the last three days of the year.
Armed with this essential data about giving trends in December, here are a few takeaways to help with the church budget.
- Provide Safe and Convenient Ways to Donate. A recent survey shows that, on average, congregations only receive 22% of their giving digitally. It’s time for churches to remove the barriers and provide digital donation options via an app, online, or text-to-give. Find a reputable vendor specializing in church donation options and open the possibilities.
- Share with Purpose. Communicate how your church is making a difference in your community and the world. Providing the narrative showing the value your church adds isn’t boastful; it’s inspiring. On top of that, as difficult as it is for some churches to talk about giving, do it anyway. Research shows churches grow faster financially when discussing giving monthly.
- A Financially Successful December is Critical. Compare your church’s December donations from prior years to the statistic showing that December accounts for 30% of the budget. While our church landed closer to the 13% range, that’s still significant. December is a time when people are generous, and churches need to make the most of the opportunity.
- Don’t Create the Church Budget Target Based Only on One Month. An accurate income projection is essential when creating a budget and requires at least 12 months of data to calculate. Imagine the potential financial disaster if a church, which receives 30% of its annual donations in December, based its yearly income on December’s giving. Of course, the flip side is also true; creating an income projection based on the lowest giving month prevents the church from accomplishing its mission and vision.
Christmas is a wonderfully unique opportunity to share the good news that God loves us so much that He came to dwell among us. It’s a message of unbridled generosity that spans generations and inspires all of us to reflect the image of the One that created us. Because of that generosity, for many churches, December carries a more significant financial load than other months. This extra load heightens the need to eliminate barriers that prevent generosity from their church through digital donation options. December also provides opportunities to share how their church makes a difference in the community and why the mission is so important. There may be no better time than Christmas to do just that, show the community the love of God – but maybe without the laser lights.