Planning for the future helps you live better today

April 18, 2022 by Stephen Keizer

Early in my time as a Ministry Relations Officer with the Presbyterian Foundation, I had the pleasure of being invited to meet with a stewardship committee at a local church. They were thinking about starting a planned giving program. As this is one of our core competencies, I spent a lot of time preparing what I thought was a compelling and complete outline of what an effective planned giving program should be. I shared with them lots of ideas, examples, and resources. I left the church that day feeling good about the presentation and confident that they would be calling me soon to get started.

Months went by and nothing happened. Any time I would try to reach out and follow up, I would receive a gracious thank you, followed by, “We will get back to you.” While I was disappointed, there were lots of other congregations that needed assistance. A few years later, I received a call from a member of the stewardship committee. They said they were finally ready to start. Excitedly, we started implementing a planned giving program with a marketing plan, policies and procedures, a brochure, and several events.

Walking to the parking lot after one of the events, I asked the gentleman who finally called why it took so long to get started. He told me that when he first heard the plans for a planned giving program, he didn’t think it was important. There were so many other things at the church and in his own life that needed attention.

I asked him what changed his mind. He shared with me his personal story — a story filled with pressure, anxiety, fear, and all the other emotions that come from someone with a busy career, family, and life in general. He confessed that life had really gotten him down. He said that his attorney had been pushing him to create a will, which was something that he didn’t want to do and kept fighting against. He did not understand how planning for the end of his life would be helpful today.

Finally, he caved and prepared a will. He admitted that once he did this, his life got better. His anxieties were calmed, his fears were reduced, and he was enjoying life again. The weight of the world was lifted. He said that if preparing a will can do this for him, perhaps others could benefit as well.

The power of planning can be amazing. The Presbyterian Foundation has lots of tools and resources that can assist churches with their plans. One such tool is the Stewardship Navigator. It is a free online tool that can help church leaders plan an effective stewardship program. Recently, we have added an planned giving component that you may find helpful as you plan for your church’s future.

An estate plan is just one of the ways we can prepare ourselves to receive God’s grace. I am so glad that I answered the phone after such a long delay.

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul – then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, and new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle and you will eat and be satisfied.” Deuteronomy 11: 13-15

Stephen Keizer serves as Vice President of Ministry Relations. He came to the Presbyterian Foundation in 2004 and leads the Ministry Relations efforts for the Presbyterian Foundation. His team of Ministry Relations Officers serves pastors and their congregations throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from regional offices across the country.