Inspiring Geneorsity


Being a Speed Boat in the Time of Covid-19

              Yee Ha. These things move fast! (Herbert Aust @ Pixabay)

Hey friends. How are you doing? We’re in the middle of week #2 of “stay in place.” Whew. It seems like forever.
Let’s see – I’ve been doing at least 15,000 steps per day to make up for the additional 15,000 calories I’ve been consuming and...

- Listening to a great podcast, “Dolly Parton’s America.”

- Watching Netflix (“Tiger King” is must-see-to-be-believed).

- Making soft butter spread (note to self: less oil next time).

- Baking dog treats. Despite being burned, JayD loved them. She’s been known to eat a little cat poop on the side, so what’s a little burned biscuit?
By now, I bet you can already tell this pandemic has a silver lining: I’m gunning to be a lifestyle guru. Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop step aside. There’s a new kid in town.

While dreaming of my future venture, I’ve also been catching up on all the development and stewardship webinars I meant to watch ages ago and I’ve been tuning into some new ones. An especially good one that I recommend is last week’s UMC Discipleship Ministries “Electronic Recurring Giving: Needed Now More than Ever.” It was presented by the fabulous UMC Stewardship guru, Ken Sloane, and two Horizon Stewardship pros, Joe Park and Richard Rogers. If ever there was the blessing of time to start an electronic recurring giving program at your church or organization, this is it. To download slides, handouts or listen to the recording of the webinar, go here. You’ll need to register for the webinar to access the recording. It’s well worth it.

In all the other development and stewardship podcasts, emails, and webinars that I’ve been looking at, responding to Covid-19 comes down to two things:
- Staying in touch with your people.
- Letting them know what your needs are.
You may be so overwhelmed just keeping all the moving pieces going that “staying in touch” seems impossible. If you can’t personally find time to reach out, find someone who can. This is the time for more communication, not less. And because there are no in-person worship services going on, you’re going to have to get creative. Now is the time to:

1. Write a letter to your congregation. Your letter should inform everyone about what is going on. Put yourself in the place of your people you usually see in the pews. What would you want to know? What word of hope can you give? What financial needs are bubbling up for the church because of this crisis? Send the letter via snail mail and then, a few days later, send it out as an email. Put it on your Facebook page too.
2. Pick up the phone. I know that many of you have already instituted phone trees to reach out to the homebound and elderly in your congregation. Amen! But what about the person in your congregation who just lost their job (all those servers and cooks out there) or those who own a small business that had to close? These folks are probably scared and could use a call too.
3. Get comfortable with technology and social media. Some of you have a love/hate relationship with both but they can be powerful tools to stay in touch with your people. I was on a Zoom call yesterday for a meeting – and guess what? We were laughing so hard and we all felt better for having met. Even virtually. No one is expecting perfection, so consider videotaping a message and posting it on Facebook. You can even be funny (if, in fact, you are funny…sadly, this is not a time to try out your comedy routine).

When I was on the Annual Conference Ministry Leadership Team (aka the Guiding Coalition) many moons ago – we often bemoaned the fact that the mainline church operated as an ocean liner while the independent mega-church was on a speed boat. My how things have changed: This virus has forced mainline churches to become speed boats and chart uncharted waters. It’s not anything anyone would have wished on anyone, but here we are. This is the time to step up, put on your Captain’s hat, and say, “let’s go. Land ho!”

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She has one more lifestyle guru recommendation: Line Rider – Clair de Lune by Debussy. Thanks to Rev. Barbara Nixon for the tip. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.


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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.