Keep on growing! Shameer Pk@pixabay.com
It’s been quite a week. I know many of you (like me) are relieved by the outcome of the trial. George Floyd’s family has received some modicum of justice. But I can’t help thinking that, in addition to justice, we also could also use more love.
On Monday’s “The Voice,” contestant Pia Renee sang a stirring rendition of “What the World Needs Now is Love.” She begins singing around the 2:13-minute mark. It’s your three minutes of church for the day. Meditate on it.
Last week, two dear readers sent me the same article from the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO). I figured I better read it. And I’m glad I did. NAO’s Executive Director, Jim White, was asked to give a summary of what he was seeing in the nonprofit sector so far in 2021. While the emphasis is on Oregon and secular organizations, it has broad appeal.
I’ll highlight a few of his points, followed by how this information is impacting faith communities. We’re not that far into 2021; if some course correction is needed, it’s definitely not too late.
1. White says that “Trust in nonprofits is skyrocketing.” Why? “Individuals, families, and communities that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and economic hardships are taking notice of who is helping them get through what may be the worst and most challenging times of their lives.”
How does this apply to your faith community? Many congregations have been at the forefront of raising money and hosting various drives for people who are in need both inside and outside their church walls.
The notion that churches are not in business to merely survive boosts the confidence of people who are part of your congregation…and it impacts those who are not part of the church too. Your giving can inspire more giving.
Hint: Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Let your congregation know what you are doing beyond the church walls to make the world better.
2. “One of the greatest measures of public trust is the willingness to give.” White goes on to highlight some of the patterns that Blackbaud (a computer software company focusing on social good) discovered in their assessment of 2020 giving.
Overall giving in 2020 was up by 2%. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the biggest increases were seen in large- and medium-sized nonprofits – those with budgets of one million dollars or more. Smaller nonprofits (with budgets under one million) saw a 7.2% decrease.
How does this apply to your faith community? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Ask more. The big nonprofits seem to ask incessantly (and believe me, that’s not what I’m advocating). All that asking they do also comes with a lot of telling stories of impact…and that builds confidence in the organization that’s asking.
Are you asking?
Are you asking people to give to something compelling?
Are you telling compelling stories of what their gifts are doing to make the world better?
Last week, I shared a story of Rev. Kent Kroehler’s father’s remarkable giving. His giving came from a place of deep faith. Unfortunately, not all people are like Rev. Kent’s father. In addition to being faithful, many of your people want to give to something. Make sure you’re telling them how they are making a difference.
3. Lastly, “A larger number of organizations are responding to the racial awakening in America and across Oregon.” Nonprofits all over the nation are coming to terms with what it means to be an organization that uplifts and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
How does this apply to your faith community? If the civil rights movement of 2020 didn’t wake us up, what will? What has your congregation done to do its own DEI work? As White says, “…it often comes with stumbles, missteps, and discomfort, but I’m heartened to see more nonprofits take greater strides in their anti-racism work within their organizations and communities.”
If the church isn’t at the forefront of this movement and doing the hard work, what does that say about the church?
I’ve just finished reading a fabulous memoir, Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, John Archibald. Archibald grew up in the South, the child, grandchild, and great-grandchild of Methodist preachers.
In his book, he tries to come to terms with why his father – who served a church in Birmingham, AL in the early 60s – never preached about civil rights or the movement that was going on during that time. It’s a challenging read and I highly recommend it to you.
My clergy friends, you have a pulpit and prophetic voice.
As I said earlier, we’re not that far into 2021; if some course correction is needed, it’s definitely not too late. Even during COVID, the church is making a difference and changing the world in amazing ways.
Good news! You are change agents. And if we know anything – it’s that the world needs love, sweet love. So go on out there and spread a little love.