ELMIRA, NY - At most churches, members have to put up with the pastor routinely asking for more money. As if that wasn't bad enough, he usually resorts to guilt tactics. "Remember that God loves a cheerful giver." "Remember the widow giving her last two mites." "Jesus himself said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." "We really need money to build a new building for the youth."
Most people are just tired of all this. That is what inspired the new giving/church growth program at River's Edge Community Church (RECC). Pastor Wayne Erving explains, "Our folks were just tired of us asking for money all the time. They weren't giving, and we weren't growing in number either. Then the pastoral staff had a brainstorm. It was like a light bulb just came on for all of us at the same time. We told our people that if they would bring visitors, then they would get an automatic tithe discount. You wouldn't believe the response."
Member Phyllis Sams told TBNN, "I hadn't invited anyone new to church in a long time. It just never occurred to me. But now with the new program in place, I've brought five new people to River's Edge in the last three weeks. And by the way, the tithe discount program is awesome!"
The pastoral staff at RECC agreed to share the details of the new program with TBNN. The official title is "Bring a Visitor - Reduce Your Tithe!" This is how it works: every time a church member brings someone to church with them, they get an automatic four month discount in their tithe rate. For example, if Phyllis Sams (see above) brings one visitor to church, then her tithe rate drops 1/2 of a percentage point. This lasts four months. For a further breakdown, see below:
-A new visitor = 1/2 percentage point drop in tithe
-A repeat visitor = 1/2 percentage point drop
-A visitor who becomes a member = 1 full percentage point drop
-A visitor who becomes a member who tithes = 3 full percentage points drop
-A visitor who agrees to serve in the nursery = 1/2 percentage point drop
-A visitor who speaks in tongues = 2 full percentage points increase in tithe
Jimmy Reese, also a member of RECC, said, "Before this new program, I had never even mentioned to the other guys I work with that I go to church. Now I have invited them all. Seven have even come, and two joined the church. Right now my tithe percentage has dropped from 10 percent to 4.5 percent. We just got a few new employees down at the shop. I'm going to invite them tomorrow. My goal, all for the glory of the Lord, is to go all the way down to zero percent. The less I give, the more God is honored."
Pastor Erving gushed about the success of the program. "It is amazing. God is really blessing us. Our membership is climbing each week. In the last two months we have seen 66 people join the church. Each week we have at least 80-90 visitors. And because of all the new people, the giving has gone up, too. We are now operating in the black. It is wonderful - no more guilt, more members, and more money. What more could we ask for?"