Every December, elders in churches all over the world face the task of telling the congregation that giving isn’t keeping up with the budget and everyone will have to try a little harder. The congregation all know to expect this, and pretty much every year everyone rises to the challenge. But what should the elder do when he makes the announcement? You don’t want to make it sound routine, because we really are behind budget, and bad things will happen if giving doesn’t sharply rise (as it usually does). But people have heard this every year, so how can you say it without sounding like a recorded announcement? And how do you keep from flattening the grand occasion of the Worship of God Almighty? Announcements are necessary and good, but we have to admit, it’s hard for them to keep up with Music, Prayer, and the Word.
When I was recently tasked with making this announcement to our church on behalf of our board of elders, after a few minutes of feeling completely devoid of imagination and creativity, I had an idea: ask for help.
Who could help? Someone who doesn’t do this every year. Someone who has fresh ideas. Someone who can see right into the heart of the question. In other words, a child.
I’m in luck. I had five of my children in the car at the time, and my eldest in reserve at home. (As it turned out, I didn’t need her.) Do you remember David Letterman’s nightly Top Ten? With the help of my kids, I came up with a Top Five.
So now, without further ado…
Number FIVE (Mary, aged 12):
You’re already feeling generous this season, so be generous to the Church too.
Number FOUR (Samuel, aged 14):
We know you’ve got the money because you’re spending it on presents. So please help the church with your money.
Number THREE (Olivia, aged 9):
Think of how good it feels to be able to pay your bills. Wouldn’t it be nice if the church could pay her bills?
Number TWO (Jed, aged 7):
If you give more money, we’ll get into the new building faster! (This was a slight departure from the precise goal, since it was the general fund that was in need, not the building fund. 7-year-olds don’t understand accounting. But the point is: giving relates directly to Being Able To Pay For Good Things.)
Number ONE (Abe, aged 5):
GIVE US MONEY!
Without a doubt, this was the best-received announcement I’ve made over all the years I’ve been an elder. So there it is. We don’t always appreciate how useful kids can be to the Church. They certainly don’t appreciate it. They may not always be able to help, but the elders should remember to make use of everyone’s gifts—and make everyone realize they have gifts to give.