Welcome back! This is the fourth column on designing and executing a pledge drive in a faith community. Today we will focus on informing your faith community about the things done for them and the things done on their behalf. If you want to see the previous columns just look to the end of this one to find the links.
It has been said before by wiser folks than I, “an informed congregation is a responsive congregation.” To the extent that we shine a light on the mission and ministries of our faith community and tell our people what is going on right here in their parish, the more excited they are likely to be about supporting those ministries and missions in all ways. They are more likely to participate as volunteers, to pray for missional success and to support the parish that hosts them.
I am often surprised by the sheer number of ministries happening at any given faith community. At St. Matthew’s, Saint Paul, where I attend we have three highly visible mission projects including Project Home, Loaves & Fishes and Blue House Boutique, a project in support of a Ugandan orphanage for girls. We have a Social Justice group that connects us to various events and causes in the Twin Cities area and beyond. We have inwardly focused ministries that are vital to the health of the parish. They include Children’s, Communications and Hospitality ministries and visioning teams that imagine what God might be calling us to do with a given ministry. We have a Sunday night Drop In Dinner, and the list goes on.
The Ministry Heads typically want to be up in front of the congregation talking about what their group does. They want the light to shine on their good works so others can support and even join them. And the congregation loves to hear about what is happening in their faith community. We have announcements at mid-service and we tell the Ministry Heads they have three or four minutes to describe the essence of what their group does. Everybody wins!
There are other ways to show the parish what is happening in our world besides just by telling them during announcements, though that is a great way. Another way is to take them there. Last winter our Social Justice team organized a bus ride through North Minneapolis and we were guided by Don Samuels, one of that community’s real leaders. It was a terrific experience, one that no one of the trip will forget. And while people usually respond better to local events and projects, don’t overlook the work done by the national and worldwide church. We need to hear what is happening throughout God’s Kingdom.
In addition to the eight or so ministries presented during the year, we also have individuals or couples give Witness Talks about one of two topics. Using the same three or four minute format as the Ministry Heads, the Witness Talks can focus on either:
• St. Matthew’s – Why the individual or couple chose to attend St. Matthew’s and why they have stayed, or what is important to them about St. Matthew’s.
• Generosity – when has someone been generous to them and what was the outcome of that experience or when where they generous to someone and what came of it?
The parishioners get to choose which topic to talk about and we help them as little or as much as they want. Please note we never ask them to talk about money or why we should give to St. Matthew’s. We schedule six Witness Talks throughout the year.
Permit me to share an observation I have made after recruiting Witness Talk presenters for a few years. I was concerned that after the first year or so we would run out of presenters. Getting up in front of the congregation and speaking about our feelings for the parish is not something that perhaps everyone is comfortable doing. But to my surprise, recruiting new presenters is something that gets easier each year rather than more difficult. People are really inspired by seeing their peers in action this way and they tend to want to do it too!
Many of us have run or been a part of pledge drives and you have seen them at their best and worst. Let’s talk about it! We have a chance to build a future of giving in our faith communities where our relationship with God becomes deeper and more joyful. If you have a story or question to share please send them to me directly at email@example.com or call me at (952) 457-8660. The answers to our giving challenges are there. They can be found in listening to God and in the experiences and knowledge already in our congregations and faith communities.
Peace, Dan White
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