Telling the Story

Scripture abounds in stories of God’s work in the world. 

  • God provides: water in the wilderness, food in the desert, healing for the sick
  • God walks with people in joy and sorrow: Even though I walk through the darkest valley,    I fear no evil; for you are with me;   your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
  • God shines light in dark places:a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it
  • Nothing stands in God’s way: not faithless kings or invading armies, not famine or flood, not sin death or the devil. Nothing.

In the words of Scripture we encounter a God of hope and possibility.

Many church bulletins and newsletters abound in stories of frustration and despair.

  • We’re broke: we’re behind on the budget (and have been all year). If that doesn’t turn around we’ll have to cut something.
  • We don’t have enough volunteers: the same announcement, begging for Sunday School teachers, runs for a month. Obviously nobody wants to serve.
  • We’re busy: long lists of events vie for people’s attention, with little clarity about what happens at any them. 
  • We whine: guilt serves as a motivator to get people to act.
  • We work really hard: God gets barely a mention.

In the words of our publications we sometimes encounter people wishing that others would step up and make the church vibrant like it used to be.

Quite a contrast between the two! 

It’s time for our publications to tell God’s story! Churches should be experts at telling stories of God’s activity, but many times as soon as one activity ends our thoughts turn to the next one, the next program, the next sermon.  

What if we slowed down and spent time reflecting on our ministry? What if we invited our people to share how God works through our congregations to impact their lives? What if we had clarity about God’s calling for our congregation? Then what if we shared the ways that people’s generous giving led to people’s lives being changed? 

Imagine a congregation with regular announcements like these:

  • “I went to Bible Camp last week and experienced God in a way I’ve never done before. I want to thank the congregation for the grant that made it possible for me to go.” – Johnny Smith
  • Last week 75 people received food through our Food Pantry. One family shared how this food helped their son have a solid breakfast before going to school. This really improved his test scores. Your generosity made that possible.
  • “I used to think praying was really hard, something only really ‘faithful’ people could do. Last Wednesday night my small group experimented with different prayer types, and I felt a connection with God in a way I’ve never done before. We meet on Wednesday at 6:00. I’d love for more people to share this kind of experience!” – Imani Atu
  • “The kids of this congregation have great questions about God. I’ve taught Sunday School for the past five years, and every week they help me learn more about God. Who would like to join me in this journey of faith of helping our youth experience God in a new way?” – Maria Rodriguez

How do your church publications help people encounter a God of hope and possibility?

Reprinted from Fall, 2018 edition of River Crossings, a newsletter of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod

Rev. Pete Reuss
Learn more about Pete’s work with GSB HERE

Giving Tuesday’s Over. Now What?

While many non-profit organizations are still wondering how the new tax code will impact donor giving, this year’s Giving Tuesday was record-breaking according to several metrics. From the Fundraising Effectiveness Report:

  • $380 million contributed in the United States
  • About 6 million donations made
  • Mean gift size of $105.55
  • A record number of Giving Tuesday transactions processed each by Facebook, Paypal, and Blackbaud


Was Giving Tuesday successful for your organization?

Whether you’re celebrating the results of the day, or were a bit disappointed with the overall outcome, December has historically been a significant month for donor giving and a lot of work remains in the waning days of 2018.

Tips for maximizing your Giving Tuesday support

  • Welcome New Donors.Identify first-time givers to your organization and pick up the phone to thank them for their support and welcome them to the organization. Didn’t acquire their phone number as part of their gift? Make a note to gain the information via future appeals; this time send a personalized email or a written note instead. Send a Welcome Packet with information about your organization.


  • Send a Prompt Thank You. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to send a quick note of thanks with an update on the appeal’scollective giving.One of the best parts of Giving Tuesday is the collaborative feeling of support for the organization or cause. Let donors know the total sum of what was contributed to your organization through the Giving Tuesday appeal and the number of givers who made it happen. Be sure to tell supporters specifically how the money will be put to work to the cause of your organizational mission. This can be done via email push and social media posts, though for supporters who may not utilize these electronic tools, consider sending a postcard or making a phone call to assure they receive the message.


  • Share a Story of Impact. A short video clip sent via email, infographic or written note about how contributions make a real difference in the broader cause help connect donors to the value they add by supporting your organization.


  • Provide Context for further support. By November, most non-profit organizations have quite a bit of work – and fundraising – to do before the end of the fiscal year. Tell donors about the work which remains and the funds needed to achieve the service or ministry goals and invite them to be part of reaching the goal.Develop a message that reflects your own organization’s aim, such as this one:
    Because of donors like you, we’re closing the gap on child hunger. Now at 1,168 children served this year, your support has brought us closer to our goal to provide weekend meals for 1,300 K-12 youth.We’re always looking to partner with others who share this passion. Would you share the story of XYZ Organization with friends who care deeply about child hunger? Together we can assure more children have access to healthy meals.


Communicating a message that there is still more giving to be done, empowers donors to be part of the solution – in both financial and non-financial ways.

Whatever you do, don’t close the chapter on Giving Tuesday just yet. You asked and donors responded. In some cases, they self-identified as people who care about what your organization is doing. Cultivate this unique set of givers to grow their support for the coming year.


Jennie Wolf Smith

Learn more about author Jennie Wolf Smith HERE