Yesterday was All Saints Day in most of our churches, a time when we honor and remember those members who passed away in the past year. You may have noticed some very strong emotions during that service. There are often tears as we miss those who are no longer with us. I often see smiles as friends realize that a loved one is freed from a body wracked with pain and anguish to enjoy an eternal reward.
It is often a time to think of that person’s role in the church. My friend Jack died a month ago. And yesterday at my mom’s church his passing was noted. Jack was an usher for as long as anyone could remember. He was always quick with a smile and a handshake, making a visitor feel warmly greeted. He was welcoming before welcoming was cool. He also volunteered with the Boy Scout Troop and was active in his Sunday School class.
The names you saw yesterday will have very different legacies, some very recent, for some you will have to go back years to when they were healthy and active.
And some leave financial legacies.
I believe that in each church there is a dollar figure that most members can afford to leave to the church in their will. Sure, some will leave every nickel to the church, but few do. And the number is different from church to church. For some this number is a hundred or a bit more. For others thousands, tens of thousands, even more.
What is that number in your church?
Now multiply that number times each name on the list from yesterday. Think about if everyone from last year and the year before and the year before had made that gift. Not an earth-shattering kajillion dollar bequest, but that same gift that most could afford to leave to the church.
What would that have totalled last year? And what if everyone who passed away for the last 20 years had made that gift?
What if we had invited them to leave a legacy not only as a Sunday School teacher, usher, or handyman, but also a legacy as a planned gift donor?
I don’t get excited by how much money that would be, but rather by what a powerful tool for ministry that would be. How you could reach the community and the world with the powerful name of Jesus.
Planned giving isn’t about asking for money. It’s about inviting your members to add a whole other dimension to the legacy they are already leaving to the church