I recently met Margaret Marcuson at a Stewardship conference and was impressed by her energy and enthusiasm for Stewardship. Margaret is a leader of leaders, ordained minister, and teacher and student of human systems. She speaks and writes on leadership and works with faith leaders nationally as a consultant/coach. She is on the faculty of the Leadership in Ministry workshops. Her most recent book is entitled, “Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance.”
Today I read a great article Margaret has written about celebrating. If you think about it, when we finish something, we quickly move on to the next challenge because there is so much to do. We often don’t take the time to celebrate. Sure, if we complete a building or other big capital project, we may have a dedication. We celebrate when a new pastor arrives, or when a pastor or staff person retires.
But we don’t celebrate the routine milestones or achievements. So, Margaret asks the question, “Have you celebrated the money you received in giving in 2017?”
It’s not too late. You can still celebrate, even though January is half over. Here are three reasons why it’s important.
- Celebrating provides a sense of completion for 2017. You say to people: Here are the facts about what we received from you in giving. Many churches have an annual meeting, where reports are presented. You can lift it up in a positive way (even if there’s a gap). If people don’t get clear information, they have a sense of incompletion which makes it harder for them to want to give more.
- People feel appreciated when you take time to express gratitude to them as part of the celebration. Whether it’s in your annual meeting, or in worship, you say, “Thank you! We couldn’t have done this without you and your giving. Thank you! Thank you!” You give thanks to the people who do the work of keeping the records and producing the reports. Even better, you write individual letters of gratitude to those who gave. In addition, when you also express gratitude to God for all the resources God has provided to your people and to the church, you help people grow in their gratitude.
- You create a positive base for 2018. People have a good feeling about their giving, because they know their money is being handled carefully and used well for ministry. They know their giving is acknowledged, and that helps motivate them to continue giving.
You may ask, “What if we had a really challenging year? What if we have a big gap for 2018?” You can still celebrate the giving you did receive, and fully express your appreciation to your givers. We should always be candid about challenges. However, if we address those challenges with a sense of possibility and creativity, rather than a negative, guilt-ridden fear-based energy, we’ll be more likely to come up with real solutions.
Try this: Write down for yourself at least 5 things you can celebrate about giving in 2018. Then, in worship, at the annual meeting or in a message to your congregation, share a heartfelt message which includes:
- positive facts about 2017 giving;
- gratitude to them for their giving in 2017;
- your hopes for this year for ministry and for the financial support of ministry.
What a positive way to begin the year! I hope you will find this useful as you begin a new year of Stewardship in your ministries.
Associate for Stewardship