Time, talents and saying thank you
March 3, 2021 by Nancy Crowe
A church’s mission and stewardship are inextricably linked. Talking about money has to reflect that, said the presenters of the Church Mission and Sustainability workshop on March 2. It was the first of the Presbyterian Foundation’s three Day of Learning events.
Stephen Keizer leads the Foundation’s Ministry Relations as the Vice President of Ministry Relations. The Rev. Gail Monsma is a Church Financial Leadership Coach for the Foundation and Interim Head of Staff at First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.
Together, they discussed ways to close the distance between money and broader concepts of stewardship.
“If we can talk about abundance versus scarcity, that’s what makes the difference,” Keizer said.
Anyone can say thank you
Both stressed the importance of saying thank you for talents as well as donations. This can mean handwritten notes, calls or emails and more from a pastor or elder.
Saying thank you does not have to fall at the feet of the pastor, Keizer said: “Be the cheerleader who says thank you and invites others to say thank you.”
This has the added benefit of empowerment, Monsma said. “When there’s a program a member has worked on, make them the spokesman for that program. Let them lead and take credit.”
Time, talent and treasure form a three-legged stool, Keizer said. Neither is more important than the other two, and it’s important to know where members are focusing their energy in all three.
At its core, he said, stewardship is not about a yearly campaign or about meeting the budget. It’s a year-round spiritual practice of giving back to God.
It’s a practice that can start young. Keizer recalled the impact when he was a child, of his One Great Hour of Sharing offerings in Sunday school. At one of the churches Monsma served, a 10th-grader — with the support of his parents — gave his tithing money for a mission trip scholarship for someone else who might not be able to afford it.
Donors want transparency
Donors of any age are more motivated to give when they can connect the dots between what they give and the difference their gift makes, Keizer said. They want to support efforts that are financially stable and to be able to believe in the leadership behind those efforts.
Transparency is crucial, Monsma added. “Let people see a detailed budget. Don’t hide financial challenges.”
Telling the story of a church or one of its missions invites people to engage, the presenters said. These days, there are many ways to tell a story — video, social media, newsletters, town halls — and the same story can be adapted for different formats to reach more people.
“Take advantage of Facebook,” Monsma advised, adding that she posted a prayer by Henri Nouwen that she’d used in a recent sermon.
She also encouraged churches to send out quarterly or semiannual statements and to use this as an opportunity to thank members for giving.
Make giving easy
Financial giving comes from three pockets, Keizer said: income, capital and estate. It’s helpful to know how church members think about each of these and make sure stewardship campaigns reflect that.
Also important, both said: Multiple ways to give, particularly online.
“We want to make it easy for folks,” Keizer said. All options need to be available, he added; everything from online giving to bank draft, securities and other methods.
Though some church members may balk at online giving, Monsma said, younger adults may not have checking accounts. Young adults may choose not to attend or join a church that does not have the option to donate online, she said.
The Foundation has plenty of resources to help churches with everything from the rudiments of online donation to questions about planned giving.
You don’t have to invent the wheel, Monsma said. “The Presbyterian Foundation has done it for you, and it’s free.”
Nancy Crowe is a writer, editor, and animal wellness practitioner based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is a graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Send comments on this article to Robyn Davis Sekula, Vice President of Communications and Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org