cleary appreciation month

All About Pastor Appreciation Month

By | Make HOW they give easy, Resources

Clergy Appreciation Month is almost here. Throughout the month of October, Clergy Appreciation Month is celebrated each year. We'll take a look at what it is, how it is celebrated, and what you can do to create engagement within your congregation.

Pastor Appreciation Month: What Is It?

As of 2018, there are approximately more than 50,000 clergy members in the United States. They work hard to build the church, create membership, and engage with the members in a way that is thoughtful and appreciated.

Clergy Appreciation Month is 31 days set aside to honor the service of a variety of members of the church clergy. From pastors and priests to ministers and reverends, it is a way to honor those people. Within this month of appreciation is a special day set aside called Clergy Appreciation Day. This day is especially significant because it focuses on one specific date where prayers are sent out on a national level to pay tribute to clergy members and even their staff members.

The History of Pastor Appreciation Month

Found in 1 Timothy 5:17 is where some of the origins of this month were founded. It follows the guidelines of St Paul who advised the congregation to give special honor to the clergy members. Double honor are the keywords mentioned in this verse:

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

It is found further in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 where Paul states:

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

According to Christianity:

In 1994, the American Christian organization Focus on the Family began promoting Clergy Appreciation Month as a national month of observance. In highlighting Clergy Appreciation Month, Focus on the Family sought to encourage the faithful to outwardly show their appreciation for religious leaders on a national level.

Why Is It Celebrated?

There are quite a few reasons to celebrate the hard work of the clergy of the church.

For one, pastors and clergy are there for their congregation. Whether it is being there in a time of crisis or uplifting the congregation in prayer and praise each week (and more), we depend on our clergy for inspiration and comfort.

How Are Clergy Members Celebrated During This Month?

How the clergy is celebrated and honored during Clergy Appreciation Month certainly depends on the members of the church. Yet, here are a few ways that members have been able to pay special attention to their beloved pastors:

  • Sometimes something as simple as a thoughtful card is enough – especially for those who do not have money or time to donate. Even Hallmark has gotten in on the holiday by providing Clergy Appreciation cards since 2002. But according to some, it was as far back as 1992 when Hallmark created the date. While this may seem like a marketing ploy on Hallmark's part, it is actually an important date that allows members to show how much they care about their pastors.
  • Take up donations for new office items for the clergy like a new chair or an updated computer. Even something as simple as an ergonomic keyboard is thoughtful and relevant.
  • Volunteering is always a thoughtful reminder to your clergy that their work is important enough for you to take part in.
  • Gift baskets filled with the clergy member's favorite things is a good idea. Whether it's coffee, snacks, fruit, or even a gift card tree, these are often inexpensive ways to show you care and appreciate their hard work.
  • Have a photograph made of the congregation or the church where the clergy member works and present it as a framed gift to hang in their home or office.

Of course, there are gifts that you may want to skip. For example, if you were to give a book to your pastor that you wanted him to read, he might think that he has some kind of shortcoming. If you do gift a book, make sure it is not reflective of how you believe that the church can be better ran.

The same thing goes for gifting a Bible. While a special dedicated Bible may be a perfect gift, keep in mind that your clergy member probably has many Bibles already.

Show Your Appreciation

The point is that you want to show your appreciation and while this should be done all year long, this special month (and day) is a way of showing special attention to all that your clergy does for you and the congregation. Make it a thoughtful gift, one that comes from your heart.

One of the best ways to show appreciation is doing it as a while. If you can gather the members of the congregation together to celebrate this day and month, all the better. No matter how you do it, make sure you celebrate Clergy Appreciation Month and show your pastor how much their work means to you and the church.

Texting

How to Strengthen Your Church Community with Text Messaging

By | Make HOW they give easy

Cell phones play the role of modern communication hub. In the United States, 91% of all adults have smartphones. Each person selects their configuration of apps (or not), but in the new millennium, this one platform reaches just about everyone. People of all ages send text messages and receive them too. Unlike the snail mail that piles up on kitchen counters, people do more than just receive texts. Recipients will read 90% of text message reminders within three minutes. With this alert audience, think of the potential for church text messaging.

Digital technology changes quickly. Remember yesterday when we all used flip phones? That speed can make keeping up with the latest, best ways to reach your congregation seem like an endless slog. Churches everywhere pursue similar communication goals. You want to share information and to support your members. You need to encourage the donations that keep your organization running smoothly. Keeping your congregation informed and involved need not overwhelm.

While the most effective methods of reaching people shift over time, human beings are a constant. Ultimately, whether your congregation receives printed newsletters or text messages, they want to feel connected to their faith and their spiritual community. We’ll explore some ways that technology can reach with new groups. It can keep folks participating, and encourage church giving.

The Opportunities of Church Text Messaging

While people only open 25% of their emails, they read 98% of their texts. No other medium offers an audience this involved.

Texts reach people of all ages. Since the beginning of the century, texting grew into a central mode of communication. The average adults now spend 23 hours a week texting. Although younger people text the most, older adults do participate as well. People over age 55 average 16 texts per day, making it a familiar medium for everyone.

Text messaging can aid a common problem: declining church attendance among younger generations. Only 27% of adults under the age of 30 report attending religious services at least once a week. That’s nearly half the rate of adults over the age of 65. By keeping in touch through a favored medium, your programs that interest young adults might gather more attention.

Another group assisted by regular church text messaging? New members. When an individual or family tries out a new church, they may not be aware of everything it offers. Regular text messages inform readers about otherwise unknown activities. They encourage new folks to return and to bond with the other members of their new spiritual home. If your church gives out welcome packets, make sure they include subscription information.

Do remember that any sort of group text campaigns requires recipients’ permission. Even if you already have the phone number from the church registry, you will still have to ask before adding anybody to a list. Repeated messages from an unwanted number, even if you mean well, come across as annoying spam. Plus, it might be illegal.

What Should I Say?

Only your imagination limits the opportunities of a text. They can include multimedia, images, and emojis. Alternately, keep the message simple. Just a line of text could direct readers to a Bible verse of the week. Taking full advantage of links could guide recipients toward other resources. Links can lead to donation suggestions, videos, articles, and other websites.

A general church text messaging list provides an effective path for sharing logistical details. Those little nudges can help your congregation plan ahead. Reminders about an upcoming event, a time change, or an unexpected cancellation can all lead to greater involvement.

Digital polls speed up gathering information. You can seek community input without cutting into valuable in-person time. (“Should we move the 10 am service to 11 am?”) Polls can stimulate thought and conversation, too. For example, asking recipients to share a favorite Uplifting Bible verse. The answers can provide meaningful content for future texts or a later discussion

Specialized lists can help organize smaller groups within the larger community. These can focus on a short-term event or an ongoing need. A specialized group could include:

  • Call upon the civic-minded with a list for volunteer opportunities.
  • Remind youth group members (and their parents) about upcoming activities.
  • Recap details for a study group. Share the passages they agreed to review.
  • Pass along prayer requests as they come in.

A text can supplement or replace printed materials. If people opt into a weekly text that links to sermon notes, you’ll be able to save costs and trees by printing fewer copies. Plus, folks who did not attend will read a handy reminder. It might encourage them to study along at home or to return next Sunday. A short text in the middle of the week could include a related video of an inspiring speaker or further thoughts on the week’s focal topic. These texts support what your strong in-person presence begins. They facilitate an ongoing relationship between practitioners and their faith, lasting long after Sunday morning ends.

Using Texts to Encourage Giving

A text-to-give campaign works simply and quickly. An individual enters a phone number and sends it a particular word. An automated response then links the church member to a webpage where they can complete the donation process. That’s all they need to do, no complicated learning curse for the average phone owner.

Texts can result in one-time or ongoing donations. Many churches accept monthly tithing through text. That automation reduces the chance that church members will forget their intended giving. While texts may be quick, don’t assume that the gifts will be small. The average person donates $107 through text-to-give campaigns.

Donor campaigns can fit into other text lists in a multitude of ways. Alongside a reminder about a charity event, you could suggest a donation to that cause. Notes following a Sunday service might be an appropriate place to suggest setting up recurring tithing for people who don’t carry cash. Some churches encourage donations during services when people feel inspired by the message.

Once again, in the area of fundraising text messaging reaches younger generations. Millennials do take part in charitable giving. One study found that 84% of these young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s gave to charity. Younger adults carry less cash than their parents or grandparents did. Instead, they prefer to go digital with their support. As a bonus, their activity on social media might mention the donation. That encourages peers to follow suit.

Among our suite of digital giving products, NewFire Giving offers a text-to-give software. The design caters to the specific challenges and needs of faith communities. The NewFire Giving text-to-give software integrates with our other digital donation tools. This lets you track gifts and manage records in one convenient place.

You can also share progress with your congregation. Pages for public viewing let members follow along in real time. They can view the community’s efforts to fund that mission trip or church renovation.

Moving Forward with Texts

Increased donations help a church pursue its mission. Text messages can help achieve those goals, and do so much more. With the right approach, text messages can strengthen a church community.

Every congregation has unique needs. No one solution helps every church increase engagement and giving. If you feel interested in further developing your text messaging strategy, reach out. NewFire Giving offers free, 30-minute consultation calls with our expert team.

There is no need to tackle a big change alone. NewFire Giving specializes in both the software and the strategy behind a more engaged church community. Time invested now can create benefits that ripple through your congregation in the future. We guarantee at least a 10% increase in giving over the subsequent six months to groups that begin to work with NewFireGiving.

 

Church Offering Plate

7 Modern Alternatives to the Church Offering Plate

By | Make HOW they give easy

The collection of “tithes and offerings” seems like it has always been a part of worship.

Yet the offering plate only became commonplace in the 19th century, after the American government ended state support for churches in the 1830s. After that, the collection of offerings gradually became a fixture of each service, and many have come to expect it just as much as they expect prayer, singing, and preaching.

Passing the church offering plate, as it's called, has become the primary way for members to support the mission of their church. However, this method of giving hasn't been perfect.

Not only can the plate only accept physical assets (like cash), but also many followers desire greater transparency, simplicity, convenience, and privacy when giving their money. Additionally, there are plenty of stories that reinforce negative perceptions about the church offering plate.

Given the rise of mobile technology and online donations, it makes sense for churches to digitize their giving. It will make people more comfortable to give money and it will expand the reach of your offering plate.

Every year, churches miss out on lots of money because they don't meet their donors where they are. After all, 54% of donors prefer to give online with a credit or debit card, and 25% complete their donations on mobile devices.

So, if you want to implement other ways to collect donations, consider these seven alternatives to the church offering plate.

1. PayPal

As one of the largest online and mobile payments platforms, PayPal makes transferring money from one party to another fast and easy. Folks will be able to donate from their phone, computer, and even in-person to your PayPal account. Also, your members can easily track what they gave and you can maintain an accurate picture of how much you've collected. PayPal also supports churches through their Giving Fund and provides tax receipts, making it one of the best alternative s to the church offering plate.

Churches must set up a nonprofit PayPal account for accepting donations. PayPal offers discounted rates on fees for registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Rates are currently 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction, and you won't have to pay a monthly fee.

2. Website Donations

Go to the Red Cross website. Within seconds, you can donate money to the organization. They make it straightforward, transparent, and quick.

You must do the same for your church. By setting up an online giving platform on your church's site, you could increase your recurring giving by 39%, according to data from NewFire Giving. That's more money for church services and activities, mission work, community service initiatives, infrastructure upgrades, and more.

3. Venmo

A sleek payments app for P2P transfers and purchases with merchants, Venmo literally makes giving money fun. Owned by PayPal, the app is incredibly popular with millennials, and therefore could encourage members from that generation to start supporting the church's mission.

Setting up a Venmo account is free and easy. Keep in mind bank transfer limits Venmo has, and remember to track contributions for tax reporting.

4. Text to Give

You certainly know that texting to give has become common, especially for helping out during a natural disaster. There are many tools out there that you can integrate with your church's bank account or giving platform.

For example, NewFire Giving has created the SecureGive platform, a free app readily available in app stores. Through the SecureGive App, members can search for your church and then donate money with the click of a button. This streamlines giving at your church, and gives you a private, seamless avenue for collecting the money you need to support your ministry.

5. Giving Kiosks

Looking for a physical (yet digital) alternative to the church offering plate? Then set up giving kiosks at your church. Compared to a church offering plate, a kiosk is less awkward, more secure, feels less forceful, and enables your volunteers to focus on more meaningful activities.

Having a giving kiosk on site will also bring in more contributions. According to research from NewFire Giving, the average gift when using a church donation kiosk is 24% higher than when using mobile. Clearly, major donors like the tangible nature of a kiosk, as well as the control it offers compared to a giving plate.

6. Online Fundraising Platforms

You've definitely heard of how people have used GoFundMe to raise money for a personal issue or cause. Such platforms give you access to a broader audience and enable micro-giving on a large scale. No wonder folks can have so much success on them (if they do their campaign right).

When thinking about alternatives to church offering plates, consider online fundraising platforms designed specifically for donation campaigns and nonprofit organizations. For example, Donate.ly, a fundraising tool for nonprofits, offers reduced fees for churches and a great user experience for donors, who can easily set up recurring donations.

7. Church Donation Management Software

With so many alternatives to church offering plates, you may worry that the giving process will become disconnected and tough to manage. Thankfully, church donation management platforms can help you unify the entire operation so that you can improve efficiency and maximize donations.

NewFire Giving has created an innovating church giving software solution. Through NewFire Giving's platform, you can:

  • Receive donations online, via mobile app or text, or from a giving kiosk (aka an “ATM for Jesus”)
  • Create donation categories, organize giving campaigns across multiple campuses, and generate giving reports each quarter
  • Develop custom church branding (studies show donors are 42% more likely to give when the donation page matches the look/brand of the church)
  • Ultimately surpass your church's funding needs

Optimizing Giving at Your Church

Digital tools, like donation apps and giving kiosks, will encourage giving and streamline the donation process at your church. When combined with the church offering plate, you'll ensure your church offers everyone a way to contribute in a manner that's appropriate for them. And this will make maximizing funding at your church much more likely.

The only thing left to ask is: Are you doing everything possible to meet your church's funding needs?

Start igniting generosity among your members today!

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