So you’ve read that the pastor should tell his giving story and you read Bishop Tracy S. Malone’s giving story. Let’s talk stories for one more week, because there are other stories to tell (see page 569 in the hymnal if you’re so inclined).
When it comes to having people testify in worship or witness in worship, it can get a bit dicey. A 90 second announcement quickly becomes a five-minute soliloquy. Lots of experts suggest having these videotaped and put on the screen on Sunday morning. While it’s certainly true that this gives greater control over the story it adds a whole lot of logistical work. If you’re staffed to do this, by all means record it. If not the pastor or worship leader interviewing the volunteer can help as well. But don’t get bogged down, personal stories are so very effective and should be used more often.
I imagine that after the pastor told her story, others in the congregation began offering their own stories in response. Has your congregation heard those stories? Pick out one or two and have them told in worship. My preference would be someone whose story mirrors the behavior you want to see from others. A casual giver who has a spiritual awakening and begins to tithe is great. If you’re a prosperity gospel church and you have a member who was richly blessed after discovering generosity, then by all means tell that story.
I want to hear the story of the church member whose life was changed by the church. I heard one several years ago from a lifelong member of the church. A closet alcoholic, he had gone out to drink his lunch and when he came back to work the boss met him at the door and confronted him. The boss delivered him to the church where he began counseling with the pastor, the wife was brought into the pastor’s office and was made aware of the situation. The pastor did a great deal of counseling and referred them both for additional help. The man testified that without the church he probably would have lost his marriage, his job and their home. That’s powerful.
One that is tougher to find is the non-church person whose life has been changed by your congregation. Who has your mission team served? Who is a regular client at your food pantry, clothing program or hot meal ministry? What wayward teenager was brought to church by a friend and was redirected to the right path? How about a single mom who was afraid and alone but found peace and community under your steeple?
As you plan your campaign I suggest one of these each week leading up to Commitment Sunday. Alternatively you could put all of them together as the message one week.
Your church is changing lives, thanks to what is going into the offering plate. Make sure your people hear these stories, and after they hear them be sure you are making the connection back to their giving.