A Spirit of Gratitude - Issue #124
Every Sunday, worshipers at First United Methodist Church in Peoria, Illinois, are invited to empty the loose change in their pockets and purses into an offering for one of the church's mission efforts. The finance team sees this offering as one way to encourage a spirit of gratitude and generous giving in the congregation. The loose change offering does not replace the budgeted line item for mission support, but allows for mission giving above and beyond what is budgeted.
The mission team carefully builds a schedule of designated ministries and rotates among local, national, and global projects. For example, the loose change offering for vacation Bible school outreach to neighborhood children is on the Sunday at the start of the program; the offering for ministry to youth in the Czech Republic coincides with the home visit of a member of the congregation who works in the ministry; and the offering for summer children's programs coincides with a city-wide effort to care for Peoria's children. The staff is authorized to make any last-minute changes to the designated offering if there is emergency need.
Every week, the designated mission is highlighted in three ways: a description in the worship bulletin, a projected announcement, and a brief announcement immediately before the offering is received. Occasionally, the projected announcement includes pictures of the people who are engaged in and those who benefit from the mission.
As people hear the stories of missions, they understand that the money makes a difference for others, so they give beyond their regular gifts. Pastor Bob Phillips reports that visitors and guests have been particularly generous, knowing that their loose change will support a specific project. He says, "The more connection people have with a mission, the more engaged they are in supporting it."
Some Questions for Discussion
- What could your church do to create a congregational culture of gratitude as opposed to a culture of scarcity?
- How do you help members of the congregation connect with the mission and ministry supported by their giving?
- In what ways might various groups and teams in your congregation cooperate to encourage a spirit of generosity?