Stewardship - Question Mark Pic
A friend recently reminded me that the Church is one of the only institutions in the world that tries to raise money by simply telling people that it needs more money.

I’ve read letters that Stewardship Committees have sent to faithful partners in mission to encourage them to more generously support the ministry of a congregation by giving-up a cup of Starbucks coffee each week and by giving the money that they would have spent to their local church. I’ve read very well-written letters that were penned to tell me about rising church deficits that can only be diminished by my more-generous giving. Churches are almost always struggling to find effective methods to discuss financial challenges in helpful ways, and to even more effectively encourage faith-filled people to support their financially-challenged ministries with increased weekly offerings. But, what if we began the whole process by asking an innocent question that isn’t commonly asked these days?
What would leaders in your congregation say if you asked them: “Why should I give my money to this congregation?”

I suspect that your question would be met with an uncomfortable silence.

You’ve probably heard sermons about the fact that God has blessed you with everything that you have. You’ve probably been told, at some point, that your offering is a way that you give-back to God a part of what God has given to you. The deep connection between our daily lives and our faith is often expressed in our faithful offerings of both time and money. But, even with that said, there’s still something missing isn’t there?
What would leaders in your congregation say if you asked them: “Why should I give my money to this congregation?”

Can’t people just as effectively express their gratitude to God by supporting the ministry of our local women’s shelter, the Blackburn Center? Why would people give money to this particular congregation when they can just as easily express their compassion and Christian faith by supporting the ministry of the Pittsburgh Fisher House? What is it that makes the ministry of the local church that I attend more life-giving than the ministry of St. Jude Children’s Hospital? I’m sure you get the point….
It’s all about stories.

Every worthwhile charity, church, synagogue, mosque or temple has a story to tell about how it’s mission and ministry is touching the lives of people in life-giving ways. When I ask you, “Why should I give my money to this congregation?” I want you to tell me an engaging story about our church’s ministry and about changed lives. When I ask you to tell me why I should more-generously support the ministry of our congregation, I don’t want you to try to convince me to support an institution simply because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I want to know what you’ll do with my gift. I want you to tell me how my time, energy and money can change lives. I want you to tell me a story that I can be pulled-into as I struggle to make sense of the relationship between my life and my faith, and as I try to make sense of what the next step in my journey of faith even looks like.
A friend recently reminded me that the Church is one of the only institutions in the world that tries to raise money by simply telling people that it needs more money.

How can that eye-opening statement affect the way that you address the issue of giving in the congregation that you serve? When you consider the fact that faithful people are likely to support three or four different charities at the same time – and the fact that the money that you so desperately need can be sent in another direction with a finger-tap on the screen of a cellphone – can you see the dramatic importance of approaching the issue of faithful giving in a new and different way?
And what if I told you that we live in a world where the best story wins?

We all want to make a difference in the world and in the lives of other people, don’t we? Even people, who clearly understand God’s call to faith-filled and generous giving, want to know that the hard-earned money, time and energy that they offer to charities and to the religious organizations that are asking for their help is changing lives and is making our world into a better place.

So, tell me your story if you want me to support your charity, church, synagogue, mosque or temple. Tell me why I should invest my time, energy and money in whatever ministry you’re asking me to support. I’m really trying my best to take the next step forward in my journey of faith; and I want you to tell me how all of the time, energy, and money that you are asking me to invest in whatever you are doing is going to make a real difference and help people to know and experience the love of God.