By Rev. Mike Ward
Focus on Why
Not long ago I was leading a congregation council retreat. We explored the way they messaged their ministry through announcements and through their weekly bulletin. As I read the bulletin, I was bored.
The announcements were focused on what the congregation did. I read about Lent worship times, a pancake supper, and a need for people to help with the food pantry. While those things are important parts of the church’s ministry, all that was shared was what they did or what they needed. I could never find anything about why they would gather for worship on a Wednesday night, why you wanted to come eat pancakes, or why someone would give up their Saturday morning to help at a food pantry.
We control the message that people hear. We need to spend time discerning what we want them to hear.
I want people to hear that the ministry we do is critical. I want them to hear that God is incredibly active in what we do. I don’t actually care about pancakes or giving up time on a Saturday morning. What I do care about is why people give up their Saturday morning to help at the pantry. I care about why kids need to experience a national youth gathering to grow in their faith which will be funded by a pancake supper. I care about why people need to take time in their life to worship to live a fuller life with God.
We focus on what we do because it is easy. We assume that people inherently know why these activities are important in their lives, then are disappointed when they don’t participate.
During the council retreat, when I asked why a certain activity announced in the bulletin was taking place, one of the leaders said, “I don’t even know why we are doing this, and I am leading the activity!” How will we notice God at work through activities if we don’t even know why we are doing them? And why do we expect busy people to participate when we, ourselves, don’t understand the value these activities add?
We need to promote the why of our shared ministry. We need to share with people why we do the ministry we do. This is what people care about. This is what people give their money to support.
I’m tired of people saying that our culture doesn’t care about what we offer now. We need to line up what we offer with what people need in their life. Our ministry is not irrelevant in people’s lives unless we let it become irrelevant. If we connect why people need what we offer, they will flock to it.
Focus on the why. Nobody really cares what we offer. However, they need why we offer it.
Want to Find Out More?
Join the author, Rev. Mike Ward, for a course on creating a culture of generosity. Click here for more.
About the Author
Rev. Mike Ward, CFRE is the fourth partner in the 44-year history of GSB Fundraising. Mike began his relationship with the firm as a client while serving as VP of Advancement for NovusWay Ministries in Arden, NC. Prior to his work at NovusWay, Mike was a parish pastor during two congregational capital campaigns. As a part of the North Carolina Synod, Mike is involved in full-time stewardship ministry. His clients include congregations, camps, seminaries, and social service agencies. He is a popular speaker at conferences in the areas of annual funds, campaigns, congregational partnerships, major donor development, and more. His first book, Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity was published and released by Fortress Press in January, 2020 where it became the publisher’s #1 title of 2020. Mike’s previous service on boards includes the ELCA National Church Council, and the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. In his spare time, Mike is a beekeeper and manages between 12-15 hives per year. While his wife teaches Spanish, Mike’s daughter is in graduate school and his son is in college at NC State.
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