May 16, 2017
Our faith communities are continually concerned about how to raise income or offset expenses especially during the summer months when attendance is lower. There are many wonderful stewardship programs that have been deployed to varying levels of success. I wholeheartedly endorse trying one and staying with it for a few years and where possible customizing for the congregation’s needs. Many stewardship committees simply distribute the pledge forms on Stewardship Sunday and wonder why the same approach yields the same result which is fewer pledge forms being completed and a strained budget.
One approach to supplementing income in the church is a Wish-List. A similar method which many churches participate in currently is having the altar elements (wafers, wine) paid for by an individual or family with names prominently displayed in the church bulletin. I would suggest that this idea be broadened for as many items in the budget as possible. For example, administrative items such as the bulletin, paper, toner, stamps or contract services such as lawn-care, snow-removal, exterminator or utilities such as the phone, electricity or gas can all be part of a Wish-List. The idea is for the church leadership to collaboratively create this list and place in the church bulletin with the specific costs and request that individuals, families, church committees and even our youth groups commit to paying directly or raising funds to pay for one or more of these items. Many times we only approach congregations for additional donations when it is for large capital projects like a new building or major repairs but the Wish-List allows for additional donations for monthly expenses.
I have personally contributed to and have been the advocate for items on Wish-Lists. The reason I believe people respond positively is that these items are recognizable and manageable and they can more easily relate them to bills in their own lives. Many congregants are intimidated by financial statements or do not get regular updates about the financial status of the church beyond annual meetings so are not aware of budget shortfalls. Wish-lists make our expenses visible and are a way to extend stewardship year-round as we give God thanks for the blessings we receive.