December 4, 2017
Many churches have just completed their annual Commitment or Stewardship programs where the congregation is asked to recommit to their church giving including their time, treasure and talent. There are many available resources, experts and programs to address this critical activity. Some are well executed and others have mixed or failing results. My observation is that often times it is the follow-up that is the weakest link that undermines these programs.
- First, how robust is the follow-up with those who did not fill out pledge cards? Do we call, email or mail the person or offer to visit to drop off another card. I think we are often afraid of being persistent in this area, but are not shy in reaching out for other activities e.g. selling a ticket for a fundraiser.
- How consistent are we with sharing financial information about the church? One of the best examples I saw was a monthly report in the church bulletin that summarized the weekly plate income and the weekly amount budgeted for the church’s expenses and the difference (both positive and negative). This kept the congregation continually informed about the financial status.
- Another follow-up item is providing quarterly statements on pledge payments. If a statement is only provided annually, members may not be sure of their status and find it more difficult to catch up on payments if a few months behind rather than a few weeks behind. I think it is also appropriate to remind the member to keep their financial commitment.
- Likewise stewardship activities should be year round but minimally they should be quarterly programs to reinforce the tenets of stewardship both biblically as well as corporately.
- With regard to stewardship time, do we follow-up by explicitly asking members to be involved in church committees and activities and most important articulate the time commitment for each activity? I have heard from long-standing members of our congregations that they have never been asked to serve on a Vestry. We tend to recycle the same people.
- Pledge cards generally ask about the talents and skills of our members but in many cases this information is not used. An important follow-up item is to create a talent list and utilize the gifts of our congregations. We should not wait until a person’s obituary is read to discover their talent.