Football games all have a two-minute warning to let the teams know the game is about to end. Teams spend much time preparing for the two-minute drill. Games are often won and lost based upon the efficiency of this time.
I often go to churches and, even if inspired to give, the offering occurs without invitation, information or inspiration. It occurs so quickly that even if I wanted to give (and had checks to write) I would not have time to write the check must less be invited to give by how I do life in an electronic world (debit card).
The offering time is an opportunity to invite persons to worship in a tangible way. John Wesley said to never let a plate pass without giving. Let me encourage you to consider the offering and give the ‘Two-Minute Invitation.”
Use these two minutes to:
- Teach theology (share your theology of giving)
- Share how the funds make impact in ministry
- Give testimony on the blessing of giving in lives
- Show accountability of how the funds are managed (stewardship of the church)
- Give attention to alternative methods of giving (if your church offers none you might be revealing how out of touch your church is with a new generation)
The “two-minute warning?” Think about it. Remember the giving is what you want for persons not what you want from them. Empower their lives. The joy of giving may be won during this time.
The first quarter of the tax year is ending and many churches (I recommend this occur in all churches) will be sending a quarterly statement of giving. This is a great opportunity to use information to inspire, say thank you and inform.
- Inspiration: Share how the funds were used, maybe an impact the church had in the life of an individual. Testimonials of ministry inspire.
- Thank You: Write a personal handwritten note (maybe on the statement itself) .You will be amazed at the positive results this will bring.
- Inform: The personal statistical information will be informative. Use this as a way of sharing the actual financial picture of the church.
Make the statements come alive with Celebration and Thanksgiving. Your culture of generosity in your church will be enhanced. Generosity is Contagious. Unleash the power.
Christ was with us on earth for only a short time, but he spent every moment teaching us how to love, forgive, care, serve and give. As we consider the Easter story of Christ’s sacrifice for us, what better way to demonstrate our love and gratitude for Him than by helping others?
Investing our resources through an Easter offering for mission needs emphasizes who we are and how we are to impact lives for God. We want to ensure that the money in our wallets can and does transform lives. This is also a great way to onramp new donors to the joy and blessing of giving.
Begin to plan now for this offering. Here are my Top Ten points to consider:
- To what cause will it be given? What will be the life impact by giving through this cause?
- Use inserts on weekends, website, DVD and other media opportunities to market the offering. This should begin March 3.
- Print special offering envelopes with the cause articulated on the envelope plus a place for name and needed information from the donor.
- Insert the offering envelopes in weekend folders on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday (some mail them also)
- Pray for the offering.
- Receive the offering on Easter Weekend.
- Send personal thank you notes to all who give. This may be your first time sending thank you notes. My experience says it will be received with warm hearts. Most people love to be thanked in a personal way for giving,
- Celebrate the amount given the following week in publications and weekend worship times.
- Share thank you notes in publications and weekend worship times from the ministries receiving the offering. A guest testimonial would be even better.
- Consider giving your entire weekend offering away! Caught you off guard, didn’t I? But think of the impact and celebration you would experience in offering “all that you have and all that you are” to meet the needs of others in Christ’s name. After all, isn’t that what He did for us?
Think about it, pray about it…be the church that gives.
Years ago someone told me “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I often thought (assuming I could afford such) what my portfolio would be if I had bought a share of Apple every day!
I recently priced an apple at the local market and the cost was $1.00. What would the world be like if each of us gave $1.00 to someone each day next year. The challenge for all is to give an apple a day. Why wait…let’s start today.
A friend and valued colleague of mine recently shared his thoughts with me about creating a teaching and discipling component in the church environment that continues to lay the groundwork for a generous, biblically based lifestyle. His thoughts focus on two popular ministries: Crown Ministries and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Here is his overview: Lessons on Financial Management and Biblical Stewardship
A strong foundation in stewardship education is key for any church to accomplish its mission of “going into all the world” to tell people about Christ and his transforming love. The financial resources needed to run a church or fund a capital campaign initiative don’t represent “giving to the church” — they represent the enabling of God’s Great Commission. When people understand and put this reality into action, the harvest will be beyond your wildest dreams!
Let me know what stewardship education offerings you have in your church — and share with us their effectiveness. Tell me your stories!
Like millions of others, I use Facebook to touch base with family, friends and colleagues. My profile page tells a little about me and paints a picture of where I’ve been and where I’m going.
What would your church’s profile page look like? How would it convey generosity? Would it show how you consistently teach Christian stewardship to all ages? Would it reveal how your worship celebrations give your people an opportunity to celebrate generosity every week through their giving? Would there be evidence of showing appreciation to first-time givers or cultivating church leaders who are shining examples of joyful giving?
Let’s talk about the process of a Generosity Audit…it’s a look at what every church needs to know about cultivating and connecting generosity to your church’s vision of impacting the world for Christ.
Spotlight on Generosity: First Baptist Church in LaBelle, FL
Since 1912, First Baptist Church LaBelle has taken bold steps to ensure its legacy of reaching others for Christ. In 2007, their master plan included building an 8,000 sq. ft. education building for $1.9 million to replace the motel-style building and classrooms built in 1952. With great joy, the people of First Baptist dedicated their new building to the Lord on September 13, 2009—and on Sunday, November 15, 2009 voted to take on the Preschool of Community Christian School as a new outreach ministry of the church. The First Baptist LaBelle Preschool opened in January 2010.
While LaBelle’s first capital campaign gave them the ability to complete the construction on the education building, their second campaign, “Facing the Future,” focused on the second phase of the master plan to manage the mortgage payments on the newly occupied facility
FBC’s pastor, Frank M. Deerey, and the campaign Steering Team developed and refined the case (purpose) of the campaign to help their congregation understand the need to channel resources toward their mortgage in order to pay it down efficiently and effectively. They communicated clearly and often through newsletters and announcements, as well as through coordinated publications that informed and inspired their church.
A second campaign that focuses on managing a mortgage is a challenge, but is quickly becoming the norm. At the onset of a master plan, churches would do well to understand the high likelihood of a second initiative—or perhaps even a third—to keep the focus on funding their vision.
LaBelle’s effort was realistic and successful. They received commitments to manage their debt that show resounding support of their vision to “face the future” with joy.
Annual Budget: $300,000
Amount Needed to Manage the Mortgage Payment: $500,000
Three-Year Campaign Commitment Total: $487,500
Number of Commitments: 63
Campaign Prep: Fall 2010
Launch Date: January 16, 2011
Celebration Sunday: February 13, 2011
Churches throughout the world have been moving through the holy season that leads to victory on Easter day. It’s a season that tells of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter sets the stage for us to proclaim to the world, “He’s alive!” It makes us who we are as a fellowship of believers.
But what about life after Easter? What plans have we made to continue the proclamation? In reality, our lives now as Christ followers should be re-invigorated and more robust. Our boldness should be seen and heard through loving invitations to those needing the love of God in their lives, through involvement in teaching, learning, and serving, and through acts of radical generosity. For example, I recently read of a church that began a sermon series on Easter rather than ending one!
On Easter, our congregations swell by 40 to 50 percent with people who are mostly absent from church throughout the rest of the year–except at Christmas. However, according to a recent survey published by Barna Research, less than one-third of born-again Christians are planning to invite anyone to join them at a church event this Easter season. In other words, we are merely hoping they come–and come back.
However, another Barna study revealed that 64 percent of the population is completely open to pursuing their faith in an environment or structure that differs from that of a typical church. And 75 percent believe that God is motivating them to connect with Him through different means and experiences than were common in the past. It’s time to help them find Christ–and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
The churches I work with have seen God move in incredible ways through their capital campaign initiatives. In a sluggish economy, they have painted a picture of bringing others to Christ–and their people have responded with indescribable generosity. They see their efforts as creating opportunity for people to seek and meet Christ, learn of His unconditional love, and the share that love through service and giving.
Let’s all take this heart for others to the next level. Put plans in place to offer up yourselves, your church, and the new environment you’ve created to practice intentional invitation and hospitality to those around you. Look for opportunities to reach beyond the norm. Be relentless in opening your hearts and doors. Make every day Easter day.
Yes, there is life after Easter. It’s why we’re all here.
Today I am in the beautiful mountains of Southeastern Kentucky at my Dad’s college, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville. As I round the bend in the winding mountain highway, the sight of this gem of the Cumberland Mountains with its creek stone facades is breathtaking. We are dedicating Melzoni Alumni Hall, a multifamily residential building, in memory of my Mom and Dad. My Dad was a minister who wanted to give back to God every dime he earned in ministry so he could proclaim he served the Lord for free!
We will also celebrate the 60th presentation of the Melzoni Scholarship—and establish the “Coffee Fund.” My Dad could not afford a cup of coffee when he attended this school so my sister and I are establishing a fund to underwrite coffee for all students as long as the school exists.
My Dad taught me how to leave a legacy that touches others for generations to come. Whether it’s as profound as providing a home for those learning and yearning to proclaim the Word of God or simply a cup of coffee with friends anytime they need a break, God will honor a heart of generosity.
Think about these:
- How are you helping your people leave a legacy – individually and as the Body of Christ?
- How are you helping those around you know the eternal significance of leaving a legacy for Christ?
- How is God speaking through the legacy you are leaving?
God’s richest for all of you,
Victorious! John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Yes, the love and peace of Christ transcends the world around us with all its challenges. We can have victory in our relationship with Him even when daily life seeks to overcome us.
A culture of generosity is a true victory in the life of any church. To the world, its tenets seem foolish. Giving money away to help those in need? Building and maintaining a House of God and ministry home from which to make and nurture disciples who serve with joy? How strange! But we who are victorious have overcome the dark thinking of the world. Thanks be to God!
Such a victorious church is St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville, IN. Their recent “Foundations” campaign was model of spiritual and financial victory. Let’s take a look…
Meet St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville, IN
Pastor Jennifer Mills-Knutsen and her congregation evaluated the need for renovation and renewal of their downtown church’s nearly 100-year-old building – especially following a 2009 flood. The time and climate was right to launch “Foundations,” a funding initiative to accomplish repairs and renovation as well as enhance St. Luke’s bold spirit of ministry, outreach and community presence.
The “Foundations” Steering Team and Pastor Jennifer worked together to inspire and engage the congregation using campaign materials produced in house as well as frequent updates from Pastor Jennifer. She also utilized her blog, regular email updates and St. Luke’s Facebook page to keep the momentum going with fresh information. The congregation openly discussed the finances of such a project and were able to create a clear snapshot of how much was needed and what would be accomplished with the pledged amount.
Keys to Success: Clarity of vision and case for the campaign, assessment of readiness revealing a culture of generosity, strong and confident pastoral leadership, an engaged and active steering team and congregation, frequent and open communication using a variety of media, a heart for mission and community outreach, an ever-present call to prayer, a sound potential financial base, and the desire to celebrate God’s goodness to approach the next chapter of ministry with boldness and joy.
Annual Giving: $120,000
Campaign Goal: $350,000
Campaign Commitment Total: $438,000 (more than 3 ½ times their annual giving!)
Campaign Prep: Fall 2010
Launch Date: January 16, 2011
Celebration Sunday: February 13, 2011
As I travel around the country, I love the adventure of discovering new routes, new ways to get where I’m going, and using all the resources available to me to reach my destination. However, as I write this today, I am “stuck” at an airport, flight(s) cancelled, snowed in, no solution in sight for making my connection with a precious church desiring to grow their vision of making more room to welcome and grow disciples for the Lord. It grieves me to think I might be forced to postpone our appointed meeting time, because to me, building and managing healthy relationships are key in forming trust, confidence, and a successful outcome.
STUCK! No way out, nowhere to go…or is there? What can you do when you’re “stuck”?
1. PAUSE: Take a moment to think about what happened and why–it may prevent the same thing from happening again. How about that small group opportunity to cultivate generosity or teach about Christian stewardship…why didn’t people respond and take part? Did you extend personal invitations…yes, in person! Did you enlist champions to speak positively about the opportunity? Was it addressed and affirmed from the pulpit (or by leadership)? Try again…
2. PURSUE: So you’re “stuck” taking the conventional route…look off the beaten path. Try an intergenerational approach to stewardship and your annual giving campaign. Have life-seasoned pilgrims share stories of working through everything from the challenges of being married (and staying married!) to making the tough financial decisions in order to give generously to others. Ask a sweet child to talk about what it means to bring an offering to church…you’ll be surprised how faithful they are and how much wisdom they can impart. Develop the concept of a family small group experience leading up to commitment time that gives real life challenges that stimulate and nurture generosity–I’m thinking a board game or scavenger hunt??
3. PERSIST: Don’t give up! Getting on the “generosity highway” takes time. It’s a culture change that resembles turning a ship around–awkward, slow, takes preparation, but is liberating when you’re headed in a new direction! Enlist a Generosity Team to keep focused on how to live daily as stewards for God. Let those around you know you are supporting this team and encouraging their input.
4. PRAY: And keep praying! Pray over generosity scriptures, such as : Deuteronomy 15:10; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Psalm 112:4-5 (you get the idea! Or go to www.biblegateway.com and search ‘generous’) Proverbs 11:25 says, “…whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Pray about who you and your church can “refresh” with generosity…God will answer!
Let me know if you’re “stuck” or let me know what you did to take action. Let’s get on the generosity highway together!