4 Ways to Implement Remote Work with Your Church Staff
These four critical strategies could revolutionize the way church staff works.
December 9, 2019
From his book "Reset," David Murray shares 4 steps you can take to living on purpose.
September 3, 2018
When we are growing up, life just happens.
Food, school, sports, vacations—all seem to occur automatically. But as we mature and gain more independence, we have to start taking responsibility for these things and become intentional about them, or they just won’t happen.
We need to be purposeful.
Some life coaches encourage their clients to move toward a Well-Planned Life by creating one single “life purpose statement” that is permanent and all-encompassing. This is then used as a governing principle when making decisions, setting priorities, and so on.
The basic idea is a good one.
The problem is that such a purpose statement usually is too generic and vague because it is intended to cover every area of life. Or, if it is made more specific, it ends up too long or fails to cover important areas of life. Also, it can be inflexible and unresponsive, incapable of taking account of changes that may occur in life. The frequent result is an irrelevant and forgotten life purpose.
That’s why I suggest the development of four “life” purposes in the following areas: spiritual life, family life, vocational life, and Christian service. You may think of other areas, but you have to keep it manageable and doable. Also, I believe that these are the four most important areas to God and that this particular order reflects biblical priorities.
Who do you want to be?
What do you want to be?
What area of your personality or character do you want to develop? Or defeat?
What do you want to stop being or doing?
What grace do you want to cultivate?
What sin do you want to conquer?
These questions are focused on our spiritual development, our relationship with God, and our likeness to Christ.
Most of us, even most pastors, do not have specific aims or purposes for our spiritual growth. We just drift along, halfheartedly trying to try harder, vaguely hoping for some positive changes, but without any particular focus or plan. That means we rarely make much progress, and even if we do happen to advance in some areas, we don’t notice it and take encouragement from it.
A sample spiritual life purpose statement might be something like this:
“By God’s grace, I will defeat anger and develop patience so that I might be more Christlike.”
Other examples might be:
“By God’s grace, I will defeat lust and cultivate purity,” “By God’s grace, I will learn how to pray better,” and so on.
Why not ask others who know you well what they think your greatest spiritual need is? The point is to have a point, a clear spiritual purpose and aim.
We can follow the same kind of process in devising a purpose statement for our family relationships—our marriages and our relationships with our children, our parents, our siblings, and so on.
This might produce a statement like this:
“By God’s grace, I will lead my family to financial stability” or “By God’s grace, I will increase the time I spend with my wife and children.”
For most of us men, the primary way in which we serve God outside the home is in our jobs.
A purpose statement for our vocational life might be something along these lines:
Remember, you are already serving God in your spiritual life, in your family life, and in your vocational life. That’s a lot. If your season of life permits, however, you may also want to add a Christian service purpose statement something like this:
Yes, we must be prepared to pause, edit, or even delete our life purpose statements and start over as “stuff happens” in our lives. But living our lives at the beck and call of everyone else is not living life in the image of God.
One pastor who eventually resigned from the ministry for a time explained how he got into such a mess:
“I felt like I was responsible to do whatever came along. I didn’t plan. I reacted. I didn’t know how to say no or what to say no to. My functional job description was ‘Everything.’”
If we have stated purposes though, we can use them to assess every opportunity and summons that comes our way.
Having goals saves us hundreds of later dilemmas and decisions about how to use our time, it prevents us from spending most of our time fixing problems, and it helps those around us to flourish.
In a survey of more than a thousand teams, Greg McKeown found that “when there is a serious lack of clarity about what the team stands for and what their goals and roles are, people experience confusion, stress, and frustration. When there is a high level of clarity, on the other hand, people thrive.”
Working toward goals also energizes us by giving us a sense of progress and momentum.
Above all, it helps us to die. According to hospice nurse Bronnie Ware, the most common regret of dying patients was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” I don’t want to die like that.
Editor's Note: Content taken from Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Cultureby David Murray, ©2017. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187.
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.