Last Friday night I attended a community band concert with my father, age 91. He never met a stranger, and I found him chatting to his neighbor when I came back from the restroom before the concert started.
Turns out she was a church lady, and not just any church lady: she had actually read Clif Christopher’s Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate. She said, “At our church they get up and say, you need to give so we can keep the lights on. It’s not very inspiring.” She was struck by Christopher’s comparison of churches with nonprofits, which are very good at staying in touch with donors, thanking them, and asking for more. “Our pastor doesn’t even know who gives.” She said she understands why that is, but it makes it hard to thank people and ask them to give more according to their resources.
People want to give to organizations that are making a difference. What stories can you tell about what your church is doing in the community and in the world.? Why do you want to keep the lights on? What ongoing and new ministries will you engage in this coming year? Who are the people your church touches, whether they come to worship or not?
People want to be thanked. One pastor recently wrote notes on every stewardship letter thanking individuals for what they do for the church. “I started out to write just a few,” he said, “And ended up writing a note on every one.” It was a great experience of appreciation for him – and it also led to a big increase in giving for the next year.
How are you asking people to give? And how are you thanking them when they do?