It’s the most wonderful time of the year
And I’m not referring to Christmas but the annual pledge campaign for your congregation. Actually, this can be a wonderful time of the year if you, the church’s leadership, approaches the campaign with faithfulness, focus and follow-through.
Faithfulness needs to emanate from the top and permeate the life of the local congregation all year round not just when you’re asking for money in the fall. Being faithful involves ongoing communication with your members and constituents; offering quality worship, fellowship, and outreach opportunities; helping people discern their gifts, and engaging them in appropriate ministries and activities. Faithfulness includes sharing your personal faith journey, reflecting on the importance of the local faith community in nurturing your own spirituality, inviting others to join you on the way, and helping form disciples for Jesus. Faithfulness leads to commitment, commitment leads to embracing stewardship, and stewardship leads to generosity and giving. Even if you’ve been a little lax in this area over the past several months, this is the ideal time to be more deliberate about faithfulness.
Nothing important, significant, or even routine ever happens without focus especially when it comes to fundraising. While the annual pledge campaign is clearly a spiritual exercise and an important missional event in the life of the congregation, prayer alone is not going to make it happen. It requires a highly organized effort by a highly organized leadership team. The annual pledge campaign involves an overall strategic timeline and a series of specific steps and tasks including articulating a theme, designing the appeal letter and pledge card, scheduling personal testimonies and chancel talks, contacting members by phone or in person, organizing the ingathering, processing the pledges, and generating personal and written acknowledgments and other ways of saying thank you. ECF may be able to help you with this Focus component. Check out our annual pledge campaign materials on ECF 360.
And you need to follow through. Even in the most faithful and focused congregations, the annual pledge campaign is rarely a simple, linear process. Wouldn’t it be great if every member of your congregation were to agree to pledge, increase their contribution over that of last year, and submit all the required documentation by All Saints Sunday. Unfortunately, that’s not what typically happens. In addition to dealing with technical matters like glitches in membership rosters and mailing lists, you will need to remind, coax, and cajole many of your members and constituents, a process that often extends beyond the official end of the campaign and even lingers into the early months of next year. Follow-up has become even more critical since the beginning of the pandemic. Many of our members and regular pledgers do not attend Sunday services on a regular basis, do not necessarily keep up with snail and email, and need to be reminded of their connection and commitment to their local congregation - another reason why faithfulness is so essential.
As Christians we are called to recognize that everything we have comes from God, to acknowledge our obligation to be faithful stewards of all of God’s creation, and to give back with our time, talent and treasure with generosity and abundance. As leaders of local faith communities, we need to help our members live into this calling as we all strive to become disciples of Jesus. The annual pledge campaign is one very tangible way of supporting the people of God on this important life-long journey. Let’s do it and do it well with some deliberate faithfulness, focus and follow-through.
Yes, it is the most wonderful time of the year indeed!