During my years of pastoral ministry I learned two very helpful tactics to raise needed funds. Keep in mind this tip is not for churches that have taught tithing for years and tie tithing to membership. But if you are still doing a year stewardship drive, then these two tips might bring in some extra cash. If you don’t need extra cash, then don’t read any further.
Christ Child Tree
Each month of December we used a program we developed called The Christ Child Tree. We had envelopes, letterheads, and graphics made for our worship programs and newsletter. The graphic was that of a Christmas tree with colored lights.
An announcement would go out the last week of February informing the congregation that during the month of December we would be asking for a “second mile” gift from every member of our congregation. The offering would begin the first Sunday of December with the Sunday evening Christ Child Tree service and end Christmas Eve night.
The offering would go to a variety of well chosen projects that would touch a nerve with various groups in the congregation. Some of the projects might be in the budget but in jeopardy of not getting done due to lack of funds or they might be projects not in the budget that we knew a large group of people really wanted to see happen.
During the two weeks after Thanksgiving to the first Sunday in December, the children’s classes would make Christmas ornaments for decorating the tree. On the first Sunday of December, a large thirty foot, bare Christmas Tree adorned the worship center (it had lights already added but they were not on). People were informed that that evening the tree would be decorated during the Christ Child Tree service and that those parents who were ready could also place their Christ Child gift under the tree.
That night the youth would mount the ladders and the children and their parents would come forward at the end of the service and hang the ornaments and leave their gifts (money) under the tree. By the end of the evening, the tree was decorated, thousands of dollars were donated, and the service ended with the light going out and only the bottom fifth were lighted up, representing the percent of the goal that we normally received that night. The people knew from the mailing that the lights would be lighted the rest of month based on what percent of the total goal had been given. Usually by Christmas Eve night, the last fifth of the tree had not been lighted. When the offering was taken, a group would count at each of the five services and the lights lighted up to represent the total amount. At the last service, we would usually be very close. The final lights were usually added by the first Sunday in January.
Over the years, we could count on this offering raising about one month’s additional income.
Tithe Your Tax Refund
During the months of March and April, people have more discretionary cash in their pockets than any other time of the year. The last couple of years the average refund was over $1,000. So we would encourage people to tithe the tax refund on Palm Sunday.