It's so exciting! Gerd Altmann @Pixabay
2020 is the year that seems to never end. And yet, dear friends, it is coming to a screeching close – at least according to the “Funny Hedgehogs” calendar on my desk. Fifteen days left. Then the world will return to normal. Right? If you think differently, I don’t want to know about it. Thanks for letting me live in a dream state.
But not so fast. It’s time for “What Were the Most Read ‘Inspiring Generosity’ Blog Posts in 2020”? I’m sure that you've been sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation. I know I have! Hooray! The wait is over, so here goes. We’re counting backwards to keep up the suspense (insert tense music here).
#10 Steal this Letter! This post gave you permission to heavily “borrow” from a sample appeal letter to your congregation. This was the “COVID Edition.” See #6 below.
#9 Two (or More) Annual Pledge Campaigns This idea has some traction. Consider doing another (or first) campaign in the new year. For practical reasons, tax advantages, and (perhaps most importantly) spiritual reasons - this might be something to seriously consider. “Of course, we should give as many opportunities as possible for people to recognize and believe that ‘money is an excellent gift of God.’” Be sure to read the follow-up post.
#8 Church is Not “Cancelled” Can I get an “Amen”? This blog was inspired (in a bad way) by a church’s website – early in the pandemic – proclaiming that everything was cancelled. “You want to be communicating to your congregation and to the world that church doesn’t stop just because you can’t worship in person for an hour a week.”
#7 How Can I Keep from Singing? Not too long after COVID-19 hit, it became clear that robust singing was a way that the virus spread. Many churches said that congregational singing had to go by the wayside for a season. “Whether we’re singing with a mosaic choir on a screen or belting it out alone as we worship on-line, the song in us does not stop. And, even more importantly, we can sing through our actions of kindness, generosity, and hopefulness.”
#6 Steal this Letter! Christmas Edition Yet another letter to “borrow”! This one is still relevant and – if you haven’t sent your letter out yet – don’t wait another minute.
#5 Dream Deferred Written shortly after the murder of George Floyd, this has all sorts of resources for congregations to get educated about racial justice. “…this post doesn’t specifically have anything to do with raising money – but it has everything to do with being church. Being people of faith. People who believe that we can and must do better.”
#4 Financial Relief May Be Yours – the CARES Act No surprise, COVID hit. No one is having in-person worship, no single-use of the church income coming in, no loose plate offering. What to do? This is where the CARES Act blessedly stepped in to help non-profits, including houses of worship. The money has been distributed. I hope you were able to get some. Don’t forget to submit your CARES report so that your loan can become a grant.
#3 Be Not Afraid This was written during the first week of the COVID shutdown in March. I was reminded of a rather odd song that we sang at my wedding, “Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.” This song still gives me comfort as the pandemic rages on.
#2 Homesick This post was inspired by a donkey on Palm Sunday (it’s true). I was missing worshiping in my church. I still miss it. “So yes, I’m homesick. I look forward to that great day, sometime in the near future, when there will be a fantastic homecoming – a reunion with all our loved ones. But in the meantime, while we’re at home, we as Easter people have work to do.”
And drum roll please…
#1 Post-COVID Future for the Church? Start Planning Now Written waaaay back in April, I’m sure we all thought the pandemic would be over by Thanksgiving at the latest. Boy, were we wrong. Keep on planning for a life beyond the virus…give your congregation “the confidence that you’ve got this post-COVID thing ready to go. Their safety matters because you (and Jesus) love and care for them.”
There you have it, friends. Reviewing these posts reminds me what a tumultuous year we’ve had (and none of these covered the Presidential election!). Perhaps by re-reading some of them you will be inspired to try a few new things in your congregation. I hope that grace, mercy, and gratefulness fill your souls as we wind up this crazy year of 2020. “The world waits for a miracle. The heart longs for a little bit of hope. O come, O come, Emmanuel.”
Merry Christmas, friends. I’ll be taking the next two weeks off. See you in 2021!
Correction: A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that you add to your year-end letter a flier that was created by the Northwest United Methodist Foundation. Unfortunately, there was an error in it. According to Julia Frisbie, NWUMF Associate Director, “The previous version mistakenly listed the charitable deduction as $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples filing jointly. The wording in the CARES act on this point was not clear, and we made the wrong assumption, for which we apologize. The limit is $300, even for married couples filing jointly.” Here is the corrected flier.