I am writing two days after our congregation’s first cancelled Sunday worship. By the time this is published, we won’t have gathered in the sanctuary for Lenten Wednesdays or for a second quiet Sunday either. And it’s starting to look very possible that we will not be congregating for Holy Week and Easter. Because I’m a stewardship person, along with social distancing and “flattening the curve,” I’m thinking about funding the mission of congregations, right when the world and we need them most. I‘ve pulled together some thoughts.
Center for Stewardship Leaders
In the early days of COVID-19, remember…
Everyone is making this up as we go. Thank goodness we don’t face a global pandemic every year, but that also means we aren’t experienced in managing this kind of disruption. I know the bills will keep coming, but compassion will be an important drum beat to listen to, for ourselves as stewardship leaders, and for others.
Helping professionals tend to be money avoidant. That’s good in many ways, but denial is not everyone’s default position. The volatility in the equity markets is setting records. This is deeply unnerving for many, even those who are seasoned and wise. We were due for a market correction, however, but the cost, as is always the case with market corrections, is unknown at this time. Those who give from appreciated assets are not feeling as wealthy as they did just a little over a month ago. Those who give from their income stream will be concerned about staying employed. We don’t want to be naïve about the way we ask for support or about the impact of this on people’s generosity. This sense of financial vulnerability is very real, even for good, trusting Christians.
That said, tough times can inspire our better angels to come to the fore. Tell the stories of the ways your congregation is making a difference, even in these days of social distancing. How are you helping each other, and how are you helping your community weather these difficult days? How are you reinforcing the important messages being delivered by public health experts? How are you defending the health and safety of the most vulnerable? How are you supporting the businesses that are making painful economic decisions in order to “flatten the curve” and protect the ability of the health care system to treat those who need to be treated? How are you supporting the health care workers who will be on the front lines for weeks and maybe even months?
Can you make giving to support this important work even easier? You know your congregation best, so will be the best judge of how to segment your communication. Here are some suggestions:
- To your sustaining givers (they give regularly through electronic fund transfer) say thank you! Their willingness to make this kind of commitment, which might be getting harder as the economy struggles, is life giving for the financial well-being of the ministry being done.
- To those who give regularly by cash or check in the offering plate, let them know how to continue their giving at a distance, and better yet, invite them to become sustainers!
- For those who give from appreciated assets, be sure they know how their gifts are making a difference in your community and around the world. They will likely give less in total, but will continue to support the places where they know good work is happening. Make sure you are among the priorities that continue to be funded by telling about the powerful impact of your ministry.
Photo by Karol D