Saying thank you is a key part of stewardship

February 3, 2019 by Robert Hay

One of the practices that my wife Morgan and I began with our children at a very young age was making sure they wrote thank you notes for presents they receive on their birthdays and at Christmas. Placing thank you cards in their stockings was one of those sneaky ways of reminding them about it even in the midst of opening all of their presents. After every birthday and after Christmas, we help them make a list of the presents they received, and they sit down with a packet of thank you cards and write notes.

Robert Hay

Now, if you are imagining a scene where our 10-year-old son and our 7-year-old daughter are sitting at the same kitchen table that has been wiped and cleared of its clutter so that they can cheerfully write notes while smelling the aroma of home baked cookies we just put in the oven while me and Morgan dance to the music playing on our Amazon Echo device while patiently helping them with their spelling and grammar, then you are way off base. There certainly would not be a photographer from “Parents” magazine or “Good Housekeeping” here to document this activity. It is not an easy task to make happen, but each birthday and each Christmas it gets a little easier. So much so that this Christmas the kids didn’t even complain about having to do it.

In today’s technological world we can send text messages and emails from our phones and our watches. We can even tell Alexa or Siri to send the messages for us. But I think that is why the handwritten thank you note is even more important today than it was 20 years ago.

The handwritten note tells the recipient that you care enough about them to slow down your busy day long enough to write them a note about how much you appreciate them. This simple act of giving thanks via a handwritten note will endear the recipient to you and will strengthen your relationship with them.

Often in the church we focus on the asking part of stewardship. But giving thanks to church members for the ways they are a part of your church through a simple handwritten thank you note will build a stronger and more authentic relationship between you and them. This stronger relationship will lead to many more opportunities for spiritual growth and engagement. And church members give more generously of their time, talent, and treasure to churches where they are growing spiritually and where they have authentic relationships with the leadership.

Here is a practical way that any pastor can achieve sending a handwritten note to everyone in your congregation. Take your church role and divide it by 52 (52 weeks in a year) and write that many notes a week. The most appropriate topic for the note would be simply to say thank you to them. Thank them for singing in the choir. Thank them for ushering. Thank them for leading a Sunday School class. Thank them for their financial giving. Thank them for their leadership role in the congregation. And if you can’t come up with something to thank them for, then thank them for being a part of the church.

Order some thank you notes with the church logo on them. Ask your administrative staff to address the envelopes and put them on your desk each week. The notes do not need to be long. Keep it short and simple. Two or three sentences will do.

Asking people to give is very important, but saying THANK YOU is even more powerful!