Generosity starts with a grateful heart.
Gratitude is foundational to generosity.
How can churches say thank you? Sending a thank you card is an easy starting point. Churches can do this! I met with Susan Graham Walker from the United Church of Canada today and she gave me a thank you card that they have created for congregations. Yay! It's encouraging to see the national church making it easier for congregations to share their gratitude.
Eleven ways to use thank you cards
Here's 11 ways these cards could be used, I'm sure you can think of more:
- Begin meetings with gratitude - each member of council (or elders, deacons etc.) write one card at the beginning of each meeting to express gratitude for someone in the church
- Thank church custodians who keep the building welcoming
- Thank seniors who faithfully give despite have difficulty attending worship services
- Thank students who volunteer
- Thank donors - don't wait until the end of the year, send a thank you now and a receipt later (with another thank you)
- Thank members - pastors could send out three cards a month to thank members for their involvement
- Thank clergy - church members could send an encouraging note to clergy, teacher or denominational leader
- Thank Sunday School teachers
- Thank church admin staff who keep the church running
- Thank people who make coffee (perhaps this should be in the next list, but I hold this gift in special regard because people will forget a bad sermon but remember a bad cup of coffee....)
- Thank people who contribute to the church by baking, shoveling, encouraging, sharing, listening, singing, playing music, smiling, dancing, praying, speaking, reading, debating, affirming, welcoming, organizing, giggling, doubting, crying, hugging or simply by their presence.
Imperfect is fine
Simple, short and sincere will be fine. Long works too. Quote Scripture if you like. Tell stories if you can. Try not to stress about the content: an imperfect thank you card still expresses gratitude.
The author Laura Ingalls Wilder also wrote a newspaper column. She wrote about a boy who had to write about what he was thankful for. His mother sent him on a walk around the block to reflect. Wilder noted that being able to walk and having a mother was already much to be thankful for. Congregations who worship God and pray together have much to be thankful for too; sometimes we overlook the obvious.
We are called to be the church! Thanks be to God.