Lessons From a 3-Day Walk

Yesterday my wife Chris wrapped up her participation in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.  From early Friday morning until yesterday afternoon she and about 1,000 others walked 60 miles around western Cuyahoga County.

Many of you are familiar with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5k (3.1 mile) walk each fall that last year attracted about 25,000 people to downtown Cleveland and raises about $1.5 million.

That’s a lot of people and a lot of money.  I don’t know of another “athon” that involves nearly that many people and is as universally respected as the Komen events.  They could have easily sat back, patted themselves on the back for a job well done and been satisfied.

But when you think about it, 3.1 miles isn’t very far (afterall, my dad used to walk that far to school every day, uphill both ways, without shoes, in the snow, and had to hurry to beat the train) and there were those who were able to do more and wanted to do more. 

So this past weekend about 1,000 of these brave souls walked together and camped together, enduring the heat and humidity, blistered feet and port-a-potties all in the name of raising money for breast cancer research.  And another 300 people volunteered four days, from Thursday through Sunday, to make it all happen.

Oh, and along the way they raised almost $2.5 million.

A group 5% of the size raised nearly twice as much money.  There’s a really valuable stewardship lesson in this.

How many of our churches take the approach that the Komen folks could have?  In our fall stewardship campaigns, we raise enough money to run the church, so we sit back and say “well done good and faithful servant.”  Sure there are people who could do more if we asked, but we’re doing OK, so why bother?

There are those in your church who can give more than they are giving and are willing to give more.  We just don’t give them the opportunity to do so.  If you want to drag them around your county for three days and 60 miles to get the money out of them, that’s up to you but I would suggest you take a more simple approach. 

Develop a vision for how additional investments in your church can make a difference in people’s lives and invite them to participate.  Sit in their office or living room and make the case, explain the need, the solution and how their gift can bridge the two.

Focus on a handful of your members, maybe 5 or 10 percent of your giving units and ask them for a one-time gift, perhaps doubling their commitment to the church this year.

Not everyone will say yes and you need to be OK with that before you get started.  But by providing this opportunity, you may make a real difference, both in the finances of your church and in the discipleship of your members.

The Komen Foundation has only been around since 1982.  In fact I was amazed to read in Betty Ford’s obituary that her bout with breast cancer led the way to this disease being talked about publicly and led to a huge increase in the number of mammograms.

For breast cancer fund raising to have come this far in a relatively short time tells me they are doing things right and we should be paying attention.

Let’s learn from them, shall we?

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