Be like Mike. Practice. Rondelle Melling - Pixabay
This week’s adventure in the COVID Twilight Zone…Farmer Cesie! I grew up in the suburbs of L.A. Farming wasn’t big in Azusa. My parents thought grocery stores were miracles of God because it meant they no longer had to plant or forage for food. So last week, I went back to my roots (no, not the grocery store) but to the e-a-r-t-h. I planted seeds. In little pots. Every day, I’m going out and saying a prayer for their survival. Maybe I’ll get a carrot. Or a beet. Fingers crossed.
In addition to the back-breaking farming that I’m doing, I’ve also been watching the ESPN docu-series, “The Last Dance.” It’s about Michael Jordan (anyone heard of him?) and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. Now I’m not what anyone would call a sports nut, but I have come to appreciate one key thing from this series: people who want to excel, practice.
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman didn’t miraculously come out of the womb being phenomenal players. In fact, Jordan was cut from his high school team in his sophomore year. But all three did have a will and determination to be the best. So, they practiced.
The same is true about talking about money. You need to practice talking about stewardship and tithing until it becomes a memory muscle. In church. On-line. In a letter. On the phone. After 22 years in the development business I still get nervous when I talk about money. But because I’ve done it for so long, I also get energized. I recognize the pure joy that comes when a donor makes a gift – it’s not a downer. In a recent webinar Julie Cooper said, “Fundraising is not punishment.”
Let me re-phrase that: “Tithing is not punishment.”
To either pump you up or give you pause, the in-depth article “Will the Church Financially Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic” is a must read. In it, David King, the Director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving so accurately states:
“Now, more than ever, churches that shy away from the subject [of money] do so at their own risk. The time for being humble and shy in making your case is over. The time for talking about money as if it’s a taboo in a congregation should also be over.”
Don’t know how to talk about money? Watch UMC pastor Jacob Armstrong do it beautifully. Here’s what he masterfully demonstrates:
- No hint of embarrassment or discomfort. Giving (as you might remember) is a privilege.
- Empathy. He recognizes that COVID has hit some people harder than others.
- The church is still active and engaged in the world.
- Clear directions on how to give. Recurring gifts are best. Where should people go to give “on-line” or send a check? Who should they call with questions?
It’s time to practice. You may not be the Michael Jordan of stewardship, but you can be darned good at it if you make the choice to get over your own fear of upsetting people. Embrace the fact that tithing can be life giving and a joy-filled experience. There’s nothing offensive about that. Take your pick: stir up that inner Jordan, Pippen, or Rodman and just do it, talk about money.
P.S. Please know that I’m here to help. I’m available to coach you on ways to talk about money. If I can do it…so can you.