This Month in Stewardship: March

February 15, 2019 by Robyn Davis Sekula

Several times a year, my children receive hand-written notes in the mail from the associate pastor at our church, Rev. Doodle Harris. She writes them to thank them every time they volunteer for an activity at our church. And she writes them, every single year, on the anniversary of their baptism.

One year, when she asked them to be ushers at church, they misheard her and told us they were going to be “gushers.” So, she mailed them each boxes of “gushers” candy, along with a thank you note, after they served as “gushers.”

Robyn Sekula

These expressions of thanks and gratitude are so important to me, and they touch me every time we see a note in the mailbox with Doodle’s precious handwriting. My girls, now 15 and 12 (twins), open those notes with great enthusiasm, and I have a file thick with them that I love to peruse on a rainy day.

It is so very important to say thank you – and it doesn’t have to cost much.

You may very well have written and mailed thank you notes to each member of your congregation who pledged to your church. If so, bless you. That’s so very crucial. But keep this in mind: studies indicate that people must be thanked seven times before they really feel and hear those important words: thank you. That’s fascinating to me – and one of the best lessons I’ve ever received on stewardship.

We often say that stewardship should be a year-round topic. But we don’t intend for you to be asking for pledges year-round. What we mean is that there are elements of stewardship that should carry on throughout the year, and one of those is saying thank you.

Robert Hay made an excellent point in his column this month with a terrific action step every pastor can take. Write thank you notes year-round to members of your congregation. Ask your administrative staff to divide the list of active members by 52, and give you a list and stack of thank you notes to write each week. Thank them for their faithfulness, their excellent contribution to the choir, or, if you can’t think of anything, thank them for being a part of your church. I love this tip so much that I’m repeating it here in case you missed his column. Read it here.

There are more opportunities to say thank you. Here’s a few more ideas:

  • Have children and/or youth give a short thank you before the offering one Sunday during worship for the church’s support of children and youth programming.
  • Write a short note for the bulletin (fairly often, if you’d like) explaining the work of a particular ministry, such as a food pantry, and showing its impact with a few numbers. Thank the congregation for supporting this ministry through stewardship pledges. That same note can be streamlined and made into a Facebook post, or tweet, or if your church has a blog, post it there.
  • Prior to a special musical performance, have someone from the stewardship or generosity team give a short introduction thanking the congregation for supporting the music ministry through pledges.

Thank you notes: a primer

Lastly, if you haven’t taken the time to send out a thank you letter or notes following your stewardship season, go ahead and do so. Yes, a note closer to pledge Sunday is better – but sending now is certainly better than not thanking them at all. The pastor or stewardship/generosity team doesn’t have to do this alone. Ask for volunteers from members of session, or even deacons. If they find this intimidating, provide a model for them to follow. Here’s a few ideas. Keep in mind that anything personal you can add to these notes is helpful.

A general thank you

Dear (name), We are all so grateful for your pledge for 2019. Your support of our church is so meaningful for the congregation and helps us do so much good in our community. Thank you for the gift of your time, talent and treasure. Sincerely (signed by name)

A thank you for an elderly member

Dear (name), Your pledge for 2019 is a true gift to God. All of us at your church are so grateful for your support, and for your faithfulness. As your church family, please reach out to us if we can support or help you in any way. We are here for you. Sincerely (signed by name)

A thank you for a deeply involved member

Dear (name), It is a joy to see you in worship each Sunday. Thank you for the many ways that you support our congregation, and especially for your pledge supporting our ministry in 2019. We are so glad you are a part of our church, and grateful for the many hours of time you dedicate to our congregation. Sincerely (signed by name)

A thank you for a child

Dear (name), you are a wonderful part of our church! We are so glad to have you and your family with us, and so glad you’re supporting the church with your pledge. We know your parents are very proud of you, and so am I. I hope to see you at church Sunday! Sincerely (signed by name)

A thank you for those sometimes forgotten

Lastly, don’t forget to thank all of the other members of your generosity team, and someone also should write the pastor a nice note, too. We’ll leave that to you, but think through the many, many duties of a pastor beyond stewardship when writing that note.

If you have questions about stewardship, please reach out to the Ministry Relations Officer for your region. They are here to help. You can find yours here.