Gathered in an open fellowship area just outside their new sanctuary, members of the Stewardship and Finance Committee met to address their financial situation. They were preparing for a second debt retirement campaign. It was evident there was little energy in the room. They confessed as much. The initial fundraising campaign and first debt-retirement emphasis went very well. Energy for retiring debt began to wane among the membership as the new sanctuary was no longer new.
The committee decided on a new approach. When they looked around at what they had, they discovered a whole bunch of children with lots of energy. For several weeks prior to their debt retirement commitment Sunday, they received a special offering during the children’s message.
Informed ahead of time, the worshiping congregation was prepared. The children went out and collected pennies from everyone in the congregation on the first Sunday. On the second, it was nickels. Then, in succession, they gathered dimes, quarters, dollar bills, five-dollar bills, ten-dollar bills, twenty-dollar bills, and finally checks.
What was not lost on the congregation was the enthusiasm with which the children headed out into the congregation and then returned with baskets full. It was only matched by the eagerness of the congregation to give, sometimes waving their hands to make sure the children came to receive their offering. As the children found their places at the front, the worship leader would invite the congregation to identify what they valued about their new sanctuary, the people who filled it, and the God who embraced it. Where they had begun in a poverty of energy and ideas, they ended in the abundant joy of a worshiping community acting together. The stories of gratitude flowed as freely as the generosity.
This stewardship story is excerpted from the Companion Resource for the theme "Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity" based on II Corinthians 8:1-7. The Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity Collection of the Companion Resource, theme materials, and corresponding issue of the Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine provide a comprehensive assortment of materials for developing a customized stewardship program for your congregation. Learn more and order in the ESC web store.