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by Andy Gustafson, Associate Conference Minister
December 2006 / January 2007
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul said “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.” In this Paul recognized that our giving is an expression of thanksgiving to God, who provides us with all we have. This is an important aspect of our stewardship. Another important aspect, one which we too often overlook, is our giving thanks to each other. A church culture of generosity will be nurtured by a church culture of thanking.
In his book “Ask, Thank, Tell” Charles Lane sets forth some ideas on thanking. First have a task team who is responsible for planning your thanking ministry. Personally thank everyone who helped out on your stewardship pledge program. Thank everyone who made a pledge. When you send out your year-end statements of giving, include a thank you letter that also highlights what your church has accomplished this past year. Do this with your quarterly statements also. Send thank you notes for every special gift received. Thank people who give of their time to serve the church. Thank them personally and publicly.
Expand the circle of thankers. Find those who have a gift of thanking and enlist their help. This could be a very meaningful ministry for a shut-in or retired person. Some
pastors take a few minutes each week to send off personal thank you notes to various members. Pass on thank you letters from organizations the church supports. Have a thank you trip to visit a ministry your church supports. Thank people in your church who have been recognized for community service.
As you nurture a culture of thanking in your church, you will discover endless opportunities for thanking and myriad ways of rendering thanks. As we excel in faith, in love and generosity, may we also excel in our thanksgiving to God and to each other.
Associate Conference Minister Andy Gustafson addressed the participants of Stewardship University, a Conference-sponsored stewardship and financial development program held this Fall at the Framingham property. Over 130 people from 60 churches across the state attended the event, which featured workshop leaders Bill Green and Don Hill from the national setting of the UCC and Nelson Murphy from the United Church Foundation. Gustafson reported that he has received positive feedback from the participants; and in fact one attendee called to say that after she applied some of the teachings to her local church, pledges jumped by 42 percent. For information on future workshops, contact Gustafson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Conference office.