16 April 2020
By Martin Smith, Christian Giving Missioner
In recent weeks the coronavirus has changed life for each and everyone of us, our families and friends and our communities. Coronavirus has also affected our churches, with public worship moved online as our church buildings have had to close. However, while our church buildings are closed, the Church remains an anchor of prayer. Our mission remains constant and we are able to offer ourselves to the service of others in our communities. In the words of the Archbishops, we remain alive and active.
Clearly there are a number of challenges ahead of us but as a church, our first concern is for all of God’s people; those who are sick, those caring for others and for all those who are finding isolation and disruption to the rhythm of life unsettling and uncomfortable. Times of difficulty bring together people with needs and people with a willingness to share. None of us can fail to be touched by moving the examples of generous, self-giving loving service that appear daily in the media. Churches are ideally placed to provide local leadership in this, demonstrating Christ’s love in practical ways. There are also opportunities to remind ourselves afresh that we have a generous God and we are called to be a generous people - to serve, to love, to minister, to pray and to give.
At this time, many in our church families will be worried about the financial impact of the Coronavirus crisis on them and their families. Some may be facing severe financial challenges and we must be sensitive to these worries and difficulties. However, it is vital that church members continue to give if they are able to do so. This is not only because churches and charities depend on our giving, but also because as we give, we respond to the generosity of God who gives us all that we are and have. Through our giving we show our love for God, our neighbour and one another. In the Bible, Saint Paul writes about the loving and sacrificial generosity of the Christians in the early Macedonian churches in times of difficulty: “…during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means…” (2 Corinthians 8: 2-3 NRSV).
Tips for Sustaining Giving
With the suspension of public worship, our churches will continue to be dependent on the generosity of the church family and others as they themselves are able to be generous to the wider community at this time. The following ‘Tips’ have been put together to help parishes, as they seek to retain sustainability and serve their communities during this difficult time.
Each suggestion has a resource attached to help you further. For more information and FAQs, please see the Church of England’s Parish Resources website.
- Use creative ways of including the offertory in online worship
If you are filming worship, you might want to include suitable introductions and sentences, and offertory prayers. It might also be helpful to include some words explaining why giving is important now as ever, while our mission remains constant and our churches continue to serve our communities.
- Add an online donate button to church websites and Facebook Pages
While our churches are unable to gather physically for worship, donate buttons are a useful way of enabling people to give who would normally give by cash, or for people who have accessed your online worship and want to support you. You may want to include a link to this when live streaming services.
- Communicate with regular givers, particularly those who give by envelope or through the open plate
It might be helpful to communicate that, while we are unable to physically gather in worship, our giving is still important. This must be done carefully and sensitively. It is recommended that wherever possible, you use email as the main method of contact at this time to help keep one another safe. A draft letter to regular givers can be downloaded here. You may wish to amend this letter to suit the circumstances of your parish.
- Include a message on websites and social media
On homepages of church websites and social media, include a message about the importance of giving to resource your on-going mission. A suggested wording can be downloaded here.
Please note that we do not recommend putting the PCCs Bank Account details in Emails, on websites or on other public platforms unless the PCC has a collections account. Where a church member requests these details, either post a Standing Order form to them or contact them by phone to provide the necessary details.