Over at LeaderWorks, I have written a few posts on stewardship over the last month. The Digest is here. But this last post will pull everything together in a sample ‘Stewardship Emphasis Program’ for your church this Fall.
It is not too late to do something specific and practical. So here are ten things to make happen between now and the last hundred days of the year to increase the level of generosity in your congregation. Some of this will seem obvious given the last months of blog posts. (By the way, on September 22 there will be 100 days left in the year.)
- Sermon Series
Schedule a 2-3 week sermon series on stewardship. If you’d want an example of how I approached this last year, here are two sermons from November of 2015.
- Leader MeetUp
Gather your leaders for a brief coffee or a quick dessert to show them your vision and plans for the coming year. The total number of people you bring together should be between 10-15% of your average Sunday attendance number. Celebrate what God has been doing…show them where the church could go…and show them the financial challenges that you are facing.
- Ask them to pray about it…
- Ask them to give to meet the need…
- Thank them all in advance…
- Giving Statements:
Send out two more giving statements between now and the end of the year.
- The first, at the end of September showing people what they have given to your church in the first three-quarters of this current year.
- The second, after that last Sunday in November showing them what they have given in the first 11 months. (Year to date)
- In each of these statements, include a very positive, thank-filled general letter to the entire congregation. Remember, every dollar given to your church is a gift of goodwill. Celebrate it and ask for more before the end of the year to strengthen the church’s ministry.
Schedule 1-2 people in your congregation to share their giving testimony. It may be one of the most productive things you do. Let a strong, committed lay people share why they give what they give.
- Snail-Mail:Prepare a December letter to your entire congregation from the pastor. Send it out snail-mail with a real First-Class stamp (remember those) so your people will open it. This letter should be a clear, heartfelt, thankful appeal to each family to give boldly and generously in the final months of the year.
- Publish how people can give to your church. Be specific about on-line giving, mailing address, hours where they can drop off a check, credit card giving, etc.
- Tell how they can make gifts of stock. If you don’t have an account set up for that, get that done tomorrow. Call your treasurer or warden. Here is a page from the giving section of the Christ Church web page. It might be helpful.
Make a phone list of the 15% of your church who are giving their time and financial resources to the church. Ask others to help you assemble a list of names of your core strength, both financial and time. Spend the month of November calling this list of people and thanking them for their commitment to the congregation. As you close your phone conversation, pray for them over the phone being sure to thank the Lord for their ministry and dedication to your congregation.
Publish weekly giving reports in your bulletin or newsletter that show your people where the church stands about its budget and expenses. Give them facts.
Include a prayer for the offering that goes above and beyond the standard one-line sentence that is offered in so many churches. Ask the Lord to supply the needs of the church and bring blessings on those who give. Pray also for those who are fearful about their own finances. Pray for those who might have employment uncertainties.
- Christmas Eve Appeal:
Include a 4×5 card in your Christmas Eve bulletin that shows people how they can give. Many in that service will not have given anything to a church all year long. In your short written appeal, ask them to give before the end of the year, tell them why, and then show them how.
Keep the Vestry fully informed throughout this process. And of course, call each one of them and ask them to be a part leading the church into a more generous future. Ask them to respond to the appeal toward generosity as leaders themselves.
This is a full plate of ideas. You will need to judge the culture of your congregation and the possibility of doing each one, everyone, or only some. But these ideas all have one thing in common: they will increase the conversation, discussion, level, and hope for a culture of generosity so that the work of the church can continue from strength to strength.