It is the month of May --- When should we begin planning our annual campaign? The reality is that if your annual stewardship drive takes place in the fall, you are already behind! Successful campaigns have several key components and it takes time to bring them together.
Keys to your campaign:
Spirituality – this is ultimately not about money, it is about fulfilling your church’s mission and ministry. If your only goal is raise money, money is all that you will receive. Stewardship is a spiritual discipline, so begin with prayer. Pray about who God is calling to lead the congregation. Pray about your congregation’s mission and ministry. Pray about your role as the pastor and your own generosity.
Leadership – ask your financial secretary for the names of 5-7 people who display faithfulness and generosity in their giving. If your church does not share contribution information with the pastor regarding amounts, this question should still be acceptable. The only people qualified to speak to the church about generosity are those who practice it in their own lives. Your team will need to have people who are respected, who are organized and reliable, who communicate well, and who are willing to address the topic of money openly in the community of the church without embarrassment or apology.
Vision – be clear about who you are as a church and what God is calling you to do as a people of faith. If you cannot articulate your congregation’s mission, how are people to understand what you are asking them to support. Consider using a narrative style budget that tells your story and points to the ways that God is using your particular ministry for transformation and as an agent for grace in the world.
Preparation - Success is not a happy accident. Planning is essential. Make sure that you have selected dates for the “public” part of your campaign (the last 3-4 weeks) that do not conflict with other events in the life of the church or local community. Get it on the calendar early and get the dates into your leadership’s hands so they will be present and prepared. For a late October/early November campaign your team should be in place before the summer begins, your theme identified prior to August, and your communications pieces ready to launch in September. Speakers need to be selected to “give testimony” to either the practice of generosity or the impact of your ministry and they need to be scheduled and rehearsed prior to October 1 for an October 21 public launch. Supporting the campaign with powerful preaching, Sunday school and small group lessons, visual storytelling (videos/posters/displays/brochures), all require time to do well. Give yourself enough lead time.
The bottom line – the time to is start now!
If you would like direct support from the Center, contact Rev. Bruce A. Barkhauer, Minister for Faith and Giving for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at firstname.lastname@example.org