Stewardship in a Time of Crisis:
Best Practices for the Invitation to Offering
in a Streaming Environment
You have a story to tell – tell it with passion and conviction. The church is still doing ministry and living out it’s God given vision. Talk about the ways that is happening and why it still matters.
- Speak with confidence – you believe in your ministry – sound like it!
- Encourage people – inspire people with the good and possible.
- Invite them to participate as they are able.
- Give permission for people not to give and thank them for the other gifts they give via their prayers, their participating in streaming worship, and their service to their neighbor. Thank them for the gift they will give in the future.
- Talk about what the offering does, not about what the mission costs!
- Use pictures to tell your story – best if they are “your people” but images that represent what you do are an adequate substitute.
- Play music – silence may be golden, but in broadcasting it is not welcome. Our preference is for bright and lively music here – not a dirge.
- Explain how to participate – if you have electronic giving options, be sure to explain them. Consider a landing page on your website that you can direct people to that demonstrates how to use your particular platform. Here is an example: : https://tinyurl.com/Offering-Information-Example
- Remind them you still take checks and how they can get them to you!
- SAY THANK YOU! Be gracious and appreciative of the generosity people share and express.
*Talk to your financial leaders. In many congregations, it is a few generous donors who provide the majority of the financial resources that make ministry happen. Some of these folks may give only once or twice a year. They may have the flexibility to change when that gift is given so as to reduce your financial strain. They may be able to make additional gifts. If you know who these people are, you can approach them about how they may be able to make a particular kind of difference in this time. It is, of course, also a time to thank them for their faithfulness. It is also a time for all church leaders who are able , to step up in their giving, if possible.
Don’t Do This:
- Don’t Use guilt – it seldom works, and it builds long term resentment. People who have lost their jobs, or fear they may, already have enough shame and feelings of inadequacy or lack of control. Don’t make it worse for them.
- Don’t convey a sense of panic! While being transparent is always a good idea, screaming that the sky is falling is not going to help. We want to lower anxiety in our people, not induce more. Your board may need to have some deep conversations about shortfalls and budget adjustments, but unless you are really in danger of closing the doors and letting go all of the staff, don’t talk in desperate terms.*
- Don’t apologize for asking. Stewardship is spiritual discipline and those who are able need to give far more than the church needs to receive.
- Don’t act awkward – don’t look at your feet, shuffle about, or “umm” and “err”. Your body language may send an entirely different message than your words so work to be sure the message of your mouth is consistent with that of your body. Just because the pews are empty doesn’t mean people can’t see you!
- Don’t ignore the moment – don’t think “Well this just isn’t a good time to talk about giving.” God is calling you to do ministry and that requires resources.
- Don’t berate, belittle or beg.
*Don’t threaten to slash and burn your ministry – stay away from taking about cuts and shortfalls. Look for the non-essential that can be temporarily suspended or delayed. Negotiate with vendors and service provides. In this extreme time of the Covid-19 pandemic, even utility companies and banks are deferring payments and open to negotiations. Look for these options before you cease vital services or reduce essential staff. If you are facing severe deficits, look for ways to talk about how this impacts ministry, not the budget. Invite people into praying about what is most important and to join leaders in discernment. Make them (as members of the congregation) feel like active participants in the process, not passive victims.
Remember when doing the offering:
- You have given people instructions – give them enough time to follow them
- If possible, display them on the screen. If you are providing some sort of downloadable bulletin or program – be sure to include the instructions for giving. Use a QR code or active hyperlink to get people to right page for making a financial contribution.
Here is an example of how you might handle the offering moment.
In all things give thanks for the faithfulness of God and the work you have been called to do. Those who look for scarcity will be sure to find it. Those who believe in God’s sustaining provision will discover what they need – and what they don’t.