Now is the Time for Faithful Generosity
Churches, clergy, and laypersons across North America and around the world are navigating uncharted waters as they struggle to deal with the effects of COVID-19. Some are scrambling to implement new technologies related to connecting and giving. Others are advocating for a time of Sabbath rest. Still others are mourning losses of in-person liturgies and practices that have always been essential to their worship experience.
Certainly times such as these can be the impetus to adapt and adopt practices that we perhaps should have done long before now. However, I invite you to consider these other aspects of faithful generosity.
- Now is the time to consider best practices for keeping your community connected. And if your faith community includes multiple generations, that means multiple ways of communicating. Most everyone with an age in double digits has a phone, and mass phone communications have their place. But if you want your church to continue to be engaged in spiritual thought during this group gathering hiatus, you’re going to need to employ social media, text, and email, and dust the cobwebs off your website. How many ways do you have to reach out to your faith community? Do you have databases and lists created? Most importantly, are you using them? Faithful generosity includes being good stewards of our relationships.
- I’ve been a clergy spouse for more than four decades, and know as well as anyone that church is more than worship time. Now is the time to tell “the rest of the story” about your church’s mission and ministry that goes on 24/7/365. Now, go back to point #1. If you have a good communication system in place, it’s going to be easier to tell your story. And let’s add another layer. Are you telling your story to the community beyond your faith community? Give your people and your local media good news that might be arising from this crisis—volunteering, giving extra to those whose incomes are affected, inviting joining your worship online. Faithful generosity includes being clear and enthusiastic about the mission and ministry to which we are called.
- Now is the time to temper the complaint that the only time the church talks about money is when it is asking for it. Eventually this being at home all the time novelty is going to begin to wear off and people are going to look for meaningful ways to spend their time. Consider sharing online posts or documents that dig into faithful generosity as a spiritual discipline. The Ecumenical Stewardship Center can help. Your church may want to become a generosity365 subscriber and access dozens of issues of Giving Magazine, theme materials, and even video recordings that you can share with your congregation. Or sign up for our virtual generosity365 Academy. Faithful generosity includes asking the question, are we focused on funding, or are we growing generous givers?
- And yes, now is the time to consider the ways technology can be an asset in our giving and connecting. If you don’t have options to give beyond Sunday morning, simply, you should. And, like millions of homes across North America today, there is a junior high student living at my house who is now going to school online. In her case, it’s not just downloading and uploading assignments. Creative teachers have posted videos and created chat rooms and are meeting with students in real time. And at least one of these digital natives seems to be having some fun in spite of it all, because she’s not afraid of this technology. Faithful generosity includes a spirit of abundance that looks for opportunities, not obstacles.
We have no way of knowing if the writer of the book of Hebrews could in any way envision today’s world when chapter 10, verse 25 was written. We do know that we have been blessed with opportunities to “gather together” in new ways. And we know that Jesus encouraged us to be yeast, salt, and light. Faithful generosity embraces all of these: giving generously, being an inviting presence, and using our generosity to bring others to Christ. It will always be the time for that.
-Marcia Shetler, Executive Director/CEO
Ecumenical Stewardship Center