Things to do before Memorial Day

I offer a mid-week blog entry, a nuts and bolts edition to make sure your campaign isn’t caught flat-footed at the last minute.

With school vacations starting in just more than a month we know that many church committees will soon be shutting down for the summer.  Before you let your stewardship committee start applying sunscreen make sure you have done some groundwork for this fall’s campaign.

Decide to have a campaign.  While this may be automatic for many subscribers to this blog, the reality is that fewer than half of the churches have a stewardship campaign every year.   Churches that ask for a commitment receive significantly more income than those who pass the plate and hope.

Set a date for the Sunday for people to make their commitments.  For some churches this may be a week with little else on the calendar.  Others find that attendance is boosted by having the children’s choir sing or another special event. 

Schedule any guest speakers.  If you are using Herb Miller’s Consecration Sunday a visiting preacher is mandatory.  Others may find it helpful to have a speaker from a mission or outreach project several weeks before Commitment Sunday.  The Conference Treasurer’s Office does a great job supplying speakers to discuss Shared Ministry Funds (formerly known as apportionments).   If you have not booked your SMF speaker by Annual Conference it will probably not happen during the traditional stewardship season.

Consider a challenging church-wide study for earlier in the fall. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church is the gold standard.  Many United Methodist churches are reading Bishop Schnase’s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.  Stewardship in a context of vision and growth is always more effective (both financially and spiritually) than simply asking for money.

There will be plenty of time to work out the details in September, but at least have  a direction before the weather gets warm.

The fact that churches shut down their choirs and administrative meetings for the summer then wonder why no one comes to worship has always amused me.  I won’t fight that battle (at least not this week); I’ll simply acknowledge it and encourage you to realize its implications in planning for the fall.

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