What story does this pooch want to share? Pexels.com
This is my gratitude moment just in time for Thanksgiving: If I’ve said it once, let me say it again, you, my readers, are awesome.
It all started with 4 Reasons Why the Follow-Up Letter is Important. That led to an email from someone I called an “Astute Reader.” That email query led to Don’t Go It Alone: Get Laity Involved.
But someone else was still interested in the Follow-Up Letter post. That person was none other than Susan Howlett, another one of my development mentors who lives in Seattle. In the course of our email conversation, Susan shared with me how her University Unitarian Church (UUC) gets laity involved in storytelling during worship utilizing the offering time.
Susan is the passionate cheerleader who asks one person each week to share a three-minute story about their love for UUC and why they give.
To give you an idea, Susan asks a speaker to share:
1. How you got to UUC, what things you’ve been involved in
2. Why you enjoy offering financial support to the church
3. What impact the church has had on you or others, and
4. How contributing is part of your spiritual practice, or that you contribute because that’s what it means to be part of the congregation.
Susan also outlines the goals for this particular storytelling in worship and exactly how it should be done. The full “instructions” are a little long to post but you can access them here. Let me know if you need it in a Word format so that you can personalize it and send it out. Susan gives her blessing.
I’ll also throw in a plug for Don Smith’s excellent book A Better Offering. You can read my full review of that book here. Don also outlines why storytelling is so critical, especially around the time of the offering. His chapter, “Say Hello to Storytelling” illustrates how three churches incorporated storytelling into worship. In addition, he offers a free How-to Guide for Storytelling in Worship.
Back to my correspondence with Susan: We agreed that saying the same prayer every week over the offering gets into the souls of those saying it. This is the prayer her church uses:
This church is a community of ourselves.
Its energy and resources are OUR energy and resources.
Its wealth is what we share.
When we contribute to the life of this community, we affirm our lives within it.
(Mary Allen Walden)
Personally, I love the Prayer of Saint Ignatius:
You have given all to me.
To you Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
May the stories your people tell inspire you to remember that God is doing great things in your congregation. May the prayers give thanks and feed your souls. Happy Thanksgiving!