As I write this, I know my pastor is very focused on his new Advent series and it seems that everyone in the church is preparing for Christmas in one way or another. It is what I want them doing. Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year and we are getting ready for Jesus' birthday party. It is a very special time of the year.
So with that out of the way, what are your plans for financial stewardship for 2013? What is the biggest worry you are most likely to have next year? What is it that your members say is not done well at your church? What is the focus of the toughest meetings during the year? What keeps you up at night? In one way or another, for 90% of you, it is money for ministry. It was a struggle this year. It was a struggle last year and unless you make some real changes it will be a struggle in 2013. Most of you will wait until late spring or even summer and then ask somebody in the church to head up a campaign in the fall, where you will be asked to preach on money one Sunday, and persons will be asked to once again sign a card. Honestly, right now, do you really think your results will be any different than they have been? Here's another way:
Ask and answer these questions before January is over:
Regarding the Annual Fund:
- When will we have a pledge campaign this year and what will the components be?
- When will it be most effective for me to preach about how money affects our lives and why we seem to love money more than we love God?
- Who are my most generous and faithful donors and how can I uniquely thank them now for what they did last year?
- When can we start using lay witness testimonies in worship to share how their lives have been transformed by Christ and the Church?
- How are we going to effectively communicate our expectation of tithing to our new members this year along with the need to give of their time and talent?
Regarding the Capital Fund:
- What vision are we espousing right now that a capital gift of stock, bonds, property, or inheritance might help us meet?
- What would we do tomorrow if someone gave us one million dollars today?
- Is that being faithful and bold?
- If it has been more than five years since any sort of formal campaign was held in our church, what can we do to encourage these gifts to come to us rather than another non-profit?
Regarding the Endowed Fund:
- Are we prepared with policies and procedures for planned gifts?
- What will be our marketing strategy for planned gifts this year?
- Do we know today what we will be doing ten months from now to encourage these gifts?
- When will we start asking each person to put a tithe in their will for the church?
Yes, my friends, Easter will come along again in 2013. Christmas will also be held again next year. It is possible, however, that your regular headaches over financial stewardship could go away with a bit of planning now. You might even find that you and your members enjoy Easter and Christmas a whole lot more when giving is more up than down.