Should Churches Show the Offering in Weekly Bulletins?

Should Churches Show the Offering in Weekly Bulletins? November 9, 2011

I remember growing up in the same church for almost 20 years and getting a bulletin every week.  It’d show the sermon notes from the previous week along with this week’s notes and a few other things to put on your calendar.  But there was one thing that always caught my attention – the offering amount.  Maybe it was because I was always interested in finances, who knows?  I’ve never given it much thought until this last week when I looked through the bulletin of our new church.  It had been a while since I attended a church that showed the weekly offerings, so I had to pause and ask myself: why do churches show the offering amount in the following week’s bulletin?

  • Is it meant to spur generosity through peer pressure?
  • Are church members supposed to feel guilty if they don’t give enough?
  • Is it simply meant to share the needs of the church with the members?

To be honest, I don’t think many churches know whether they should or should not include the offering amount in the bulletin.  I’ve been to small churches that do and large churches that don’t; but I don’t think that it’s necessarily a matter of size for a church to show or hide the offering amount.

A Peer Pressure Giving Tactic?

This thought came to mind as I was thinking through the psychological reasons a church might put the offering in a bulletin.  Some might look at it as a way to spur generosity through peer pressure.  This, however, is clearly unscriptural.  In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul writes, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”(NLT)  I don’t think churches (in general) would show the offering amount to pressure people to give.  I’ve never felt a pressure to give more or less because of looking at the previous week’s offering, because my giving is a personal matter.

 A Responsible Way to Stay Accountable

I know some people absolutely do not like to hear this, but financially speaking, a church needs to manage its offerings and expenses much like a business would handle income and expenses.  As a member of a church, you are financially supporting the church with your offerings and should take interest in how the church is doing financially.  We can do this by attending business meetings and doing our part to help the church run more efficiently.  One way that we can look at the bulletin’s ‘offering given / offering needed’ section is to think of it as a brief snapshot of the financial picture.  If we want to continue supporting the ministries in the church, we need to understand that each one has costs!  It makes sense then to see why a church might show the offering given/needed each week if you look at it this way.

I don’t think I can make a blanket statement on whether a church should or shouldn’t show the offering given/needed in each bulletin.  There are good things in knowing that the church is being supported but there are also some negative thoughts that can come from knowing how much is being given (i.e. there will always be people who think offerings should be used in a different way.)

So what are your thoughts?  Should a church show or not show the offering given/needed in the bulletins?  Does your church show the offering amount in each week’s bulletin?

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  • My blanket assumption is that it is generally a quick status check on the church for accountability purposes. If you look at the bulletins from the previous weeks, you can get a quick idea of how well the church is meeting its budget.

    Churches are a 501c3 organization, so I imagine they do it to add to the transparency of their finances. I’m sure there are a small few who might be tempted to show that needs aren’t being met, but I believe the majority do it simply for transparency. :)

    Thanks!

    (the other) Tim

  • My blanket assumption is that it is generally a quick status check on the church for accountability purposes. If you look at the bulletins from the previous weeks, you can get a quick idea of how well the church is meeting its budget.

    Churches are a 501c3 organization, so I imagine they do it to add to the transparency of their finances. I’m sure there are a small few who might be tempted to show that needs aren’t being met, but I believe the majority do it simply for transparency. :)

    Thanks!

    (the other) Tim

  • Our church used to but no longer posts a weekly update. They do post at least twice a year a financial statement that totals up what they’ve received and what they’ve spent, as well as showing it against a budget. I think that’s more useful in the long term.

    • Have to agree with you there MB. Those numbers will provide far more insight than the simple: collected/needed numbers.

      • Tim

        I think that creating financial statements to update the members is a responsible thing to do. Thanks for your input!

  • Our church used to but no longer posts a weekly update. They do post at least twice a year a financial statement that totals up what they’ve received and what they’ve spent, as well as showing it against a budget. I think that’s more useful in the long term.

    • Have to agree with you there MB. Those numbers will provide far more insight than the simple: collected/needed numbers.

      • Tim

        I think that creating financial statements to update the members is a responsible thing to do. Thanks for your input!

  • Carmen

    Our church posts both the number of attendees as well as the total amount given for the previous week. I think it gives accountability on both sides. If donations are down, as a church member I can reflect back as to whether or not I’m doing my part. I also lets me know how the church is doing financially.

    • Tim

      Good point Carmen, it can certainly be a reminder to someone to continue giving – especially if they see the numbers each week and how their offerings help.

  • Carmen

    Our church posts both the number of attendees as well as the total amount given for the previous week. I think it gives accountability on both sides. If donations are down, as a church member I can reflect back as to whether or not I’m doing my part. I also lets me know how the church is doing financially.

    • Tim

      Good point Carmen, it can certainly be a reminder to someone to continue giving – especially if they see the numbers each week and how their offerings help.

  • I would miss it if our church did not post the weekly totals. I like the accountability that it represents. I know…. there are some things that could get swept under the rug, ( I am sounding a bit skeptical) but that is anywhere.

  • I would miss it if our church did not post the weekly totals. I like the accountability that it represents. I know…. there are some things that could get swept under the rug, ( I am sounding a bit skeptical) but that is anywhere.

  • The church i grew up in did not do this, but as my wife and I were church shopping this past year, we did attend a church that did it. Naturally, I found it very interesting, though I’m not sure how much benefit it provides. I think presenting finances a couple times a year is probably the better option. I could see the weekly thing becoming a gossip tool.

  • The church i grew up in did not do this, but as my wife and I were church shopping this past year, we did attend a church that did it. Naturally, I found it very interesting, though I’m not sure how much benefit it provides. I think presenting finances a couple times a year is probably the better option. I could see the weekly thing becoming a gossip tool.

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  • Our church shows regular financial updates in the bulletin and I think it’s a useful thing in that it provides some transparency as to where the money is going, how much we have – and how much is needed. I appreciate that they’re so up front about things. I think it does present some accountability on both sides of the coin – both for me (sometimes I’ll forget our tithe check and seeing that reminds me) and for the pastors – as they know the church members see where the money is spent. So all in all I think it’s a good thing.

  • Our church shows regular financial updates in the bulletin and I think it’s a useful thing in that it provides some transparency as to where the money is going, how much we have – and how much is needed. I appreciate that they’re so up front about things. I think it does present some accountability on both sides of the coin – both for me (sometimes I’ll forget our tithe check and seeing that reminds me) and for the pastors – as they know the church members see where the money is spent. So all in all I think it’s a good thing.

  • Janice Goodell

    Isn’t the visitor or “guest” the most important person at church? Should the financial picture in the bulletin be one of the first things they see? Don’t visitors decide if they will return within ten minutes of entering the building? Wouldn’t a ”

    “thanks for giving” be a better bulletin picture? If the church has serious needs, shouldn’t just the membership be notified of this?

    Janice

  • Janice Goodell

    Isn’t the visitor or “guest” the most important person at church? Should the financial picture in the bulletin be one of the first things they see? Don’t visitors decide if they will return within ten minutes of entering the building? Wouldn’t a ”

    “thanks for giving” be a better bulletin picture? If the church has serious needs, shouldn’t just the membership be notified of this?

    Janice

  • JAllan

    What happened to the church we read of in the bible? “Freely have you received, freely give.” Where is the ministry described in Matthew 10 when he sent out his 12 disciples?

    Why do we tithe 10% when that was an old law given to the Levitical tribe (priesthood). Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and he came to full-fill the old testament; not to continue in its traditions. (Heb 7:5-14) I believe we should let God inspire us and be let by the spirit….not be tied to an amount.

  • JAllan

    What happened to the church we read of in the bible? “Freely have you received, freely give.” Where is the ministry described in Matthew 10 when he sent out his 12 disciples?

    Why do we tithe 10% when that was an old law given to the Levitical tribe (priesthood). Jesus was from the tribe of Judah and he came to full-fill the old testament; not to continue in its traditions. (Heb 7:5-14) I believe we should let God inspire us and be let by the spirit….not be tied to an amount.