Editor’s note: Do members of your church have an opportunity to offer public testimony of what their faith – and their church – mean to them? Many associate this with appeals for participation in annual, capital, or other campaigns. Today ECF Vital Practices shares testimony from a newer member of an Episcopal church – and while it was given during the congregation’s annual stewardship campaign, Holly’s message is also one of personal transformation. I invite you to consider ways for members to share their transformation stories throughout the year.
Please join me in prayer.
"We who gather here at St. John’s are no longer strangers because we have been welcomed by this “Church of the Open Door” in your name. By your love we are bound together in our care for one another and this holy space.
"As we consider our life here at St. John’s, help us to give from the heart and to the best of our abilities, willingly and with hopefulness. We pray that our giving would not be hindered by fear or a spirit of scarcity.
"Fill us with your grace, that, as joyful stewards of this calling you have set before us, we may have the strength, the will, and the imagination to fulfill your vision for our Church; in Christ’s name we pray. Amen."
(Campaign prayer used by all speakers)
Good morning. I'm Holly Stoerker. It was two years ago that I first came through the Open Door at St John's. And today is my one-year anniversary of joining this parish as a member.
Shortly after I was asked to give this stewardship talk, I quite by accident stumbled upon an article written by a Harvard Business school professor. It was called “Four Questions Fundraisers Must Be Prepared to Answer.” I was delighted! “Now,” I thought, “I have some authoritative insights to share.”
According to this article, fundraisers should address 4 key questions when making their pitch:
Does the organization do important work?
Is the organization well managed?
Will my gift make a difference?
Will the experience be satisfying to me?
If the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” Professor Stevenson claims, it will be difficult for the prospective donor to say no.
But.... then I read our Gospel lesson for today. Today we heard Jesus say, not once, but twice... “My kingdom is not from this world.” … “My kingdom is not from here.”
While Professor Stevenson may be right on the philanthropic mark when it comes to fundraising for charitable organizations, devoted to all sorts of worthy causes... frankly, it's not what speaks to either my heart or mind in a stewardship message at church. “God's kingdom is not from this world.”
So why do I give to the church, to this church, to St. John's?