Gratitude is the Key to Your Church Giving
At this time of year, most churches are wrapping up a beleaguered annual stewardship campaign, trying to squeak out the last few pledges in hopes of meeting the budget. Church leaders are eager to move on to the festive Christmas season and leave the difficult money conversations behind.
Are you tired of struggling through the annual giving campaign at your church? This year why not try something different? No, I’m not suggesting more money sermons, but why not help people deepen their understanding of stewardship? Why not teach them that stewardship is not about squeezing blood from turnips but about gratitude, prayer, and faith?
You'll never solve your church giving problems until you change the conversation to gratitude.
What does gratitude have to do with church giving? Absolutely everything.
Gratitude is fundamental to stewardship and generosity. In the absence of gratitude, stewardship can’t truly exist.
Gratitude emerges when we comprehend the source of who we are, what we have, and all that is.
Gratitude reminds us we are not self-made, but God-made.
Gratitude prompts us to see ourselves in community with each other and, most importantly, with God.
Gratitude liberates us from the false notion of self-reliance and moves us to reliance upon our Creator.
Gratitude does not evoke a sense of obligation or indebtedness but feelings of humility and intense joy!
An expression of gratitude is an acknowledgment of the bigger picture and God’s place at the center of it. Gratitude compels us to give back as an expression of thanksgiving and moves us to connect more deeply with God.
Gratitude is the beginning of the journey of stewardship.
Find ways to engage the congregation in reflecting on the things for which they are grateful. Some may struggle, at first, as they have not yet realized God is the source of all blessings. Once they do, gratitude begins to happen.
Here are some ways to inspire conversations and conversions around gratitude:
- Create a gratitude wall by having members complete index cards listing all the blessings for which they are grateful. Completing gratitude cards in worship puts it in the right context! Adults, youth, and children will benefit from this experience and learn about gratitude from each other.
- Pastors can write personal letters to members expressing gratitude for their gifts to the church. Pastors should be routinely writing to financial contributors already, but in case you are not, now is a good time to start. Let contributors know how important their giving is to the ministries of the church and how much it is appreciated.
- Make sure year-end giving statements include an expression of thanks. Rather than sending a cold financial statement, provide an accounting of how their generous contributions put ministry into motion and impacted people’s lives. Be sure to set the example by always expressing gratitude to those who make your ministry happen—physically and financially.
- Have your church leadership write a letter to the local community expressing gratitude for their gifts to your food pantry, vacation Bible school, or other ways in which they showed support. This could be published in the local newspaper or online.
- Preach, teach, and talk about gratitude as the first step on the journey of stewardship. Remind people of the generosity of their Creator in whose image they were born. Help people discover and express gratitude to God. A person whose heart is filled with gratitude has no choice but to give back.
Gratitude is at the heart of the stewardship journey. As grateful recipients of God’s many blessings, we are called to express our gratitude by prayerfully and faithfully giving back to build God’s Kingdom.