1. Put a team together to lead the charge on giving and generosity. The only reason this team meets is to plan, encourage, and teach stewardship and giving in your church. If you want help with a to-do list just keep reading this blog or give me a call.
2. Plan times to talk about stewardship of time, talent, treasure. Go in the pastor’s office and poke him or her in the shoulder and say, “When are you planning to preach about stewardship this year? How many times? Would you hold a Bible study on stewardship generally or money in particular? Will you say something specifically about the Christian understanding of money? Can we look forward to you being solidly behind our financial campaign? Do you want to be part of the worship planning for that campaign?”
3. Set the dates for a month-long series on stewardship and giving. Fall is a good time. Other times work. Anytime beats not doing it at all.
4. Communicate more often about the lives that are being blessed and changed by your church’s ministry. Always include something in the newsletter connecting the giver with the impact your church’s ministry. Gather the stories and testimonies that will be used regularly on Sunday morning. Put a story in your quarterly or annual giving statements.
5. Say thank-you more often. The church seems to forget what other non-profit organizations always remember. That is, say thank you many times each year. Send a letter. Write a card. Make a telephone call. Speak it from the pulpit. Say it in person at the coffee shop or even in the parking lot. Record it in a video on your cell phone and send it. Make sure you share a “well done good and faithful servant” in regard to giving.
6. Embrace the reality that people in your church will die. Aside from the celebration of our friends entering their eternal reward, we should encourage them to plan a gift at the end of their lives. Estate planning (i.e. gift planning) is imperative for a strong future. Decide when you will offer a class or workshop on gift planning. Decide who will call the Foundation to help with this task.
7. Increase transparency. Many are the churches where folks have no idea what is happening with the money. People are not generous when all they see is a financial black hole. Perhaps we could go around to each Sunday School class or small group once this year to present the finances and ask for questions.
8. Remember the children. Most kids start off being very generous, believing in abundance. Then the world takes it out of them. Our task is to put it into them again, by teaching and example.
Pick two or three of the above and make them your resolutions for a healthy and generous year. Like any resolution, a few weeks of effort won’t do too much, but a year’s worth will make a big difference.