I’ll never forget that conversation in our small group. A couple in the group had been heavily investing in some friends of theirs, inviting them to church over and over, and finally, the friends accepted.
Unfortunately, the day they chose to show up was the first day of our fall giving campaign. But what was an almost-embarrassment to the inviters was no big deal to the invitees. They said that they actually appreciated the message on money, and never felt any pressure to give.
So how can you honor first-time / new guests even while trying to talk about the taboo subject of money? I’m no expert on capital campaigns, but I’m been a part of a few. Here are a few thoughts:
1. Address the elephant in the room.
You know the topic is awkward. Your guests know the topic is awkward. So just go ahead and name it. Let your guests know that this is not something you want from them, but the future growth of the church is something ultimately for them. And by all means: explicitly state that new arrivals shouldn’t feel compelled to give anyway.
2. Don’t just drill down on money.
Rather, focus on whole-life stewardship. Our “capital campaigns” are actually designed to help people think about all of their generosity: the way they spend their time, the way they serve, and the way they give. (It’s only tricky to navigate this with sincerity if you’re not actually sincere.)
3. Push it outside.
Rather than focus on the new educational wing or the added campus, talk about how funds will impact the community around you. Help your guests see that you are not just in it for you, but in it for your city.
4. Encourage generosity…somewhere else.
Here’s an interesting litmus test: are you okay if people give to other worthy organizations? If we are promoting stewardship, then we should be prepared to encourage people to live generous lives in other places. Don’t get me wrong: I believe our first fruits should go to the local church, and I believe that is the responsibility of church members. But for people new to your church, it seems disingenuous to ask them to commit to give to a place that isn’t home.
What thought am I missing? Comment below.
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