Don't Run Your Parish Like a 2nd Grade Fundraiser

(photo: Shutterstock image)

I came across a great joke the other day. The only problem is that it really wasn’t that funny (okay, it was a little funny).  It did, however, make an important point that speaks volumes about the current state of the Church.

Here’s how it goes:

A pastor got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”

Most needs in each parish can be met by its parishioners. The trouble is that all of the money is still in their pockets. And all of their talents are being used at home or in their workplace. And all of their time is being spent doing other things. They need to be convinced to participate. Sadly, they are not.

And I must say, I don’t blame them for not being convinced. I’m rarely convinced either.

Here are a few suggestions to overcome this:

Ask - In many cases, church leadership has not even asked for what they need. They haven’t asked for parishioner money. They haven’t asked for support. They haven’t asked for prayers. They haven’t asked for help. If you don’t ask (multiple times), you (almost always) don’t get.

Make Your Case - Show people where their time, talent and treasure are going. Explain exactly how their resources will be used. Quantify the very precisely calculated end results you expect to achieve. Report along the way. Make the results in some way tangible for those you are asking to participate. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  And do it professionally.  Far too often meeting the needs within the Church is treated like a 2nd grade fundraiser where everyone throws in a buck for a candy bar because we don’t have it in us to say no to a cute kid just trying to do something nice. Whether it is a new building program, a ski trip, a new school in Africa or simply the parish tithe, we’ve got to show parishioners we are taking their giving seriously. Once we do that, they’ll do the same.

Be Inspiring - We have perhaps the greatest “marketing” advantage in the world. Hellooooo? The God-man started our Church. If that doesn’t give you some inspiring material to work with, I don’t know what will. The work of the Church isn’t just a formality. We are saving souls. It’s not just an obligation. It’s a way of life (the best way). And it’s not just a hobby. We’ve been given the most important mission in the world. Not just we - you. You have been commissioned by the creator of all things to do some very important things with your life. The human person was built to run on this stuff. People are hungry for it. Feed them. They are just waiting to be inspired by you…by the way you live and by the way you lead.

Ask. Make a credible case. And then provide inspirational leadership to accomplish the goal. It’s time for us to graduate.