4 Ways to Implement Remote Work with Your Church Staff
These four critical strategies could revolutionize the way church staff works.
December 9, 2019
Even when your members go on vacation, they still need a pastor. Use these 8 push notifications to keep them connected to the church.
May 21, 2019
Summertime can make your church feel like a haunted house.
Key members disappear.
The volunteer pool dries up.
You run into a summer giving slump.
Most importantly, for you, as a pastor—church engagement drops.
If it is the job of the church to disciple its members, then what does summer disengagement mean for their discipleship?
It puts it in a vulnerable state.
Summer often brings an abundance of free time, an absence at church, and a disengagement from community and routine.
Anyone who’s been a Christian for more than five seconds knows that this opportunity for rest often brings with it a dearth of opportunities for struggle:
As the Scottish proverb states: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”
Here’s the thing:
You don’t have to surrender to the summer lull.
You don’t have to let your church members drift off into disengagement for three months—even if they are vacationing, interning, working, or summering in another location.
Here’s the truth:
You need a church app.
People don’t want to read emails on vacation.
People don’t want to get phone calls from their pastor while on vacation (like you have the time).
They want simple reminders that keep them connected to the life of the church during an irregular season.
In other words:
People want push notifications.
Therefore, you need a church app (for other important reasons, too)
You might think it’s hard to get a custom app for your church, but it’s not.
Tithe.ly will easily build you one.
Or you can pay your resident 20-something software engineer major in Ramen and coffee to build you one.
Either way, if you really want to keep your church engaged over the summer, get a church app, and use these eight push notifications to keep them hearing the word, praying for the needs of the church, giving to the needs of the church, and making it a priority to remain an active member in the body of Christ this summer.
Content is king.
And as a church, you have weekly content to keep your audience engaged:
The weekly sermon.
Make the most of this sermon.
You should be video recording, livestreaming, and podcasting the audio from this sermon.
Here are four push notifications you can send to every phone every week during the summer:
Church isn’t just for consuming content.
It’s about serving the community.
People know that.
Anybody can podcast a sermon series from a celebrity pastor.
The reason people join churches is to be a part of something local.
When they’re away on vacation, one easy way to keep members connected the needs of other members is to send prayer requests twice per week to members who express interest.
Take two urgent needs from the prayer request list on the Sunday service and schedule them to be sent out throughout the week. Or you can pray for them during your prayer meeting.
Praises counterbalance prayer requests with a positive note.
It shows the people of God the faithfulness of God.
It gives people on vacation a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, and organic connection to the needs of the church.
It shows them evidence of God’s working in the world, and a further incentive to keep praying.
While many churches do experience a summer slump that threatens disengagement, a few churches have the best opportunity of the year to get new members:
Vacation Bible School.
Do not underestimate the importance of getting committed registrants for this event.
It’s important for you to have an established sign-up link where parents pay to register their children so that they don’t just “commit” and then fail to show up.
A paid registrant is a real registrant.
And the Lord knows that parents are looking for any opportunity they can for free babysitting.
So make sure that you send out push notifications weekly to parents to (1) register their kids for VBS, and (2) send the registration link to their friends with children as well.
Big church events, such as a church-wide picnic, movie night, or special dinner, are appropriate to announce through push notifications.
Especially during the summer, people might not be at church on Sunday to hear big events announced.
This is why it’s important to schedule push notifications about these bigger events—namely, so that they don’t become smaller events due to poor marketing.
Push notifications are the best way to keep everybody in your church “in the loop” so that they can attend every big event they desire.
Since you should segment your church (understand how different groups have different needs), you will be able to easily send push notifications to certain groups of users about smaller events.
For example, if Small Group #2 needs to relocate to the bowling alley next week, you can send that as a push notification to a select group of users who may not have the information on-hand, or who aren’t checking emails because they’re on vacation.
Other examples include sub-groups of volunteers, church leadership meetings, staff teams, and age groups.
You can use push notifications to inform each of these different sub-groups of relevant information related to the events in which they would likely be interested to participate.
Summer is missions season.
Many churches (maybe yours?) is even planning a summer missions conference.
This means—prayer, giving, mobilization, volunteers, support, event management, training, and fundraising.
You should have a specific campaign that packages together all of these features so that you send the right information to the right smaller groups, as well as strategically inform and ask the entire church to participate.
For example, you could use push notifications to keep your team training sessions packed with every person who is going on the trip, and the same week ask the church to give to the trip because two youth members still haven’t raised all their funds.
Fundraising through push notifications is a fantastic way to combat the summer giving slump.
You may not get 100% of the people who receive the push notification to give, but that’s not the goal.
The goal is to raise a certain dollar amount to meet a certain need so that the church can continue operating to fulfill the mission of God’s kingdom in your community.
When you ask for fundraising donations during the summer through push notifications, make sure that donors know their gift is going toward a specific need.
Assume that you have already set up recurring giving through the app so that tithes are already automated.
Don’t say, “Give to us!” which communicates that their gift is going toward the “General Fund.”
Say: “We have a need that we need to meet in the next 3 days. Give today to help us meet that goal and make a strong showing at the July 4th parade this year.”
With the right church management system channeled through the right app, maintaining your church’s engagement is just a matter of putting the right processes in place and scheduling the notifications to be published at the right time.
Someone at your church should be fulfilling a “content manager” position that’s in charge of administrating livestreaming, scheduled push notifications, email updates, and podcast uploading so that your media production system is streamlined and effective.If you can achieve this, you will keep your members engaged and discipled during a time when Christians can easily get distracted from the hard work of community engagement, which is crucial to discipleship.
Remember to schedule these eight push notifications:
With these eight kinds of push notifications strategically scheduled, delivered to the right people at the right time, you’ll safely carry your church on the current of engagement through the dry season of summer disconnection.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.