Which Letter Motivates You Toward Greater Generosity?

Communication // October 26, 2009

Recently I had opportunity to revise a letter being prepared for distribution to a church congregation regarding an upcoming meeting to review and approve the “budget” for 2010. A cover letter draft was written for review by the team prior to mailing with the proposed budget.

I very much appreciate the members who have served on this team, some for many years, because it is a direct reflection of their heart for developing a generous culture within their church.

This information is shared to hopefully encourage and enlighten as you prepare similar communications for your ministry. So here are some excerpts of the first draft and the final copy that was used. (Names have been removed for privacy.)

Which letter motivates you toward greater generosity?

As you compare the copy, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which version appropriately reflects appreciation for faithful giving in an economically trying year?
  2. Which version celebrates the church’s generosity thus far through 2009?
  3. Which version encourages you to want to give?
  4. Which version instills confidence in members regarding church leadership?
  5. Which version leaves you with a feeling that the church really needs my money and that I need to be a better giver in 2010?
  6. While neither version is perfect, which would you rather receive?

First Draft – First Paragraph:

After several weeks of meetings, discussions, and prayer your Stewardship Team and Pastor are excited to present the enclosed proposed 2010 Church Budget.  We believe all the ministries and needs of our church family are important. 

Final Draft – First Paragraph:

2009 has been a very exciting year for “Church Name.” Pastor “Name” has completed his first full year as our Senior Pastor. We have witnessed 25 baptisms to date and have 46 new members who have joined our church family. In a year of economic uncertainty, giving through tithes and offerings has exceeded the 2009 Ministry Plan (budget) and expenses! We praise God for each one of you who has remained faithful in your giving. Your faithfulness is having a tremendous impact.

NOTE: I am working to change the cultural language of the team from “budget” to “ministry plan.” This is a much needed shift in language. Budget implies corporate, need, cold. Not good. (See this blog post for more on changes in language.)

First Draft – Second Paragraph:

We request that you review this budget and become committed to it.  The Budget will be voted on at the Quarterly Business Meeting on November 15, 7:00 PM.  This budget is ONLY numbers unless each of us become instruments of God’s will and commit our financial resources toward fulfilling the ministry needs as presented by our members and reflected in this budget.

Final Draft – Second Paragraph:

Numerous ministries have touched hundreds of people as we seek to fulfill our mission: “Connecting People to Christ – Pursuing Spiritual Growth.” Consider:

  • 116 children and 48 adults attended VBS this summer, with 93 volunteers serving.
  • 11 people turned their lives over to the Lord on the last night of the spring dodge ball league.
  • 200 families have been served through our involvement with “church” food pantry.
  • $41,673 has been given to fund missions work around the World through September.
  • This summer 22 people completed a 4-week Financial Road Map study from Crown Financial Ministries.
  • Currently, 43 people are participating in our first offering of Financial Peace University.
  • 70 people participate in the Senior Crew monthly activities.
  • 73 families have been assisted through our Benevolence program.

First Draft – Third Paragraph:

We can make 2010 a worshipful experience if we commit our tithes faithfully to God’s Church.  God’s word instructs us to tithe.  God’s ministries depend on it and we will mature in Christ if we faithfully tithe.  The Stewardship Team appreciates your prayers and support.

Final Draft – Third Paragraph:

After several weeks of meetings, discussions, and prayer your Stewardship Team and Pastor respectfully propose the enclosed 2010 Ministry Plan.  The Plan reflects a 7% increase over our projected revenue for 2009, and a 12% increase over the 2009 Ministry Plan. As we seek to be good stewards with every dollar given to fund our mission and ministry, every line item in each ministry area has been thoroughly reviewed.  As always, we will carefully monitor expenditures throughout the year as we manage the resources entrusted to the church. 

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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