Called to Christ to serve others
April 17, 2020 by Stephen Keizer
One Sunday morning early in my career working for the Foundation, I was worshiping at a church in a small southwest Michigan town. Visiting churches is something I get to do often in my role as Ministry Relations Officer.
When the end of the service came, the ushers opened the doors at the back of the sanctuary. Like many older downtown churches, the doors led directly out to the street, and the center of town was plainly visible. The pastor asked the congregants to turn around and face the doors. She then led them in the benediction, which charged them to go out and be positive examples in their town and ultimately the world. This imagery was powerful to me. The simple reminder that we are called to Christ in order to serve others is something I have tried to hold onto ever since.
I think that this is a good reminder as we think about our annual stewardship efforts too. I believe it is important to have a donor-centered approach to our giving. The need of the donor to give is just as important if not more important than the need of the church to receive. Generosity is found in the gift of giving, not in the gift of receiving. In this case, we need to make sure that anyone who gives to our church has a positive and uplifting experience.
Clif Christopher, the author of Not Your Parent’s Offering Plate, spends significant time discussing the importance of understanding why people give. If we are going to provide them with a spiritual and uplifting process for them to give of their talents, we must know the reasons why they are giving to our church.
The first reason that donors give is their belief in the mission. People want to make the world a better place. They want to believe that they can truly make a difference for the better. They want to change lives. Therefore, we must become good at telling stories of how we are making the world a better place.
The second reason that people give is regard for staff leadership. People give to people. When the people leading the flock have a great vision, great passion for that mission and have great energy to carry out the mission, they will be motivated to get on board.
The final reason people give is the fiscal stability of the institution. People give to things that are fiscally stable. People do not want to give to sinking ships. We need to come from a place of abundance, not scarcity.
Finally, it is important to come from a place of gratitude. Nothing makes someone feel better than appreciation. Thanking people for their gifts, whether it is time, talent or treasure, is important.
Stephen Keizer is Vice President for Ministry Relations and a Ministry Relations Officer at the Presbyterian Foundation. His territory includes Ohio and Michigan. You can reach him at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.