Give a Word of Witness

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One of the most powerful tools for growing generosity in the church is telling the story of how the church is transforming people’s lives through ministry. People want to know their giving is making a difference in the life of another — so give a word of witness!

In talking with those who tithe or give above a 10 percent tithe, the most frequently named motivator is hearing the witness of a fellow church member.

Giving testimony about how God changes lives will encourage bountiful giving, but moving people to increase their giving substantially typically requires a slightly different type of witness. In talking with those who tithe or give above a 10 percent tithe, the most frequently named motivator is hearing the witness of a fellow church member. Hearing a respected friend or someone considered a peer talk about their giving is a highly effective way of moving people to bountiful giving.

The most powerful stories are those that are honest about wrestling with God over gift amounts. Encourage those who will share their witness to be detailed and specific about the giving and the events that led them to give at their current level. While some people may be uncomfortable with this, it reminds people that this is serious business and not to be taken lightly. It raises expectations and helps people realize the magnitude of sacrifice being made by those giving witness. If people are unwilling to share specific amounts, ask them to share percentages or give examples such as giving the equivalent of a car payment or a vacation or home remodeling project. Always end with an encouragement and challenge for people to join you on the journey.

Have the pastor review the giving list to identify people or families who have clearly stepped up in their giving. Schedule a visit and find out why. Be intentional about recruiting a diverse group of people for the testimonies — people who represent various age groups, lengths of membership, races, levels of socioeconomic status, and so forth. And remember, people who prepare their remarks in advance are less likely to exceed the time limit. It will also be beneficial for the pastor to review the remarks before they are made in worship.


Scott and Kristine are the authors of Bounty: Ten Ways to Increase Giving at Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2013) from which this material is excerpted and adapted. The book is available through Cokesbury or Amazon.

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About Author

Kristine Miller is Senior Vice President and Partner of Horizons Stewardship and previously served as director of stewardship for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. She is a co-author of Bounty: Ten Ways To Increase Giving At Your Church and C.L.I.M.B. Higher: Reaching New Heights in Giving and Discipleship.

Scott McKenzie

Scott McKenzie is senior vice president with Horizons Stewardship and previously served as director of stewardship for the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Photo of a tithing envelope in a pailLearn How to Make Your Annual Financial Campaign More Effective

Church members who pledge give 30 percent more than those who do not, and congregations that seek annual financial commitments have significantly higher levels of overall giving. With Optimizing Annual Financial Campaigns you will learn to reap the harvest of generosity through best practices to make your annual financial campaign more effective. The resource includes engaging video presentations, written materials, and supplemental materials. Learn more now.

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