What You Said to Me on the Phone Last Year (and Why it Made Me Hopeful)

Remember when we spoke on the phone last year? Thanks for taking my call!

Don’t worry if you can’t remember. I do.

When the pandemic first hit, you explained to me how giving at your church had dipped significantly. But then you shared how members found ways to give, even though they couldn’t meet in person. Some simply mailed in their contributions, while others set up online giving accounts. I even heard about arrangements for a local bank to take offerings through the window at the drive-up teller!

By the second half of the pandemic, you told me giving was at or exceeded budget projections. You even said giving had never been better!

I did not see this coming, because the initial impact of the pandemic was so severe. I knew some churches were spinning into crisis mode.

Plus, the novel challenges presented by a global pandemic were daunting. You told me about switching from in-person worship to livestreaming on the fly. Even more harrowing were your stories about navigating the myriad of opinions about your state’s quarantine mandates.


But I should have known better than to underestimate giving. I know folks give to LOTS of causes. I see this every day from my perch at Barnabas Foundation. However, it’s often the local church that holds first place when it comes to giving priorities.

This easily gets lost in the hazy fray of church ministry. In fact, there are days when “last place” seems a better fit when it comes to priority. But since there are plenty of unknowns going forward, there’s wisdom in remembering just how much the local church matters. 

What if faith that’s depleted by months of virtual living gets eclipsed by renewed spiritual identity and purpose? And what if your church’s ministry finds a renewed role for fanning that spark into flame?

Crazy talk? Perhaps for some, but not for those who see the priority of giving to the church as an opportunity for even greater giving.

I’d love to hear your answer to this question: What if your church hasn’t even begun to reach its giving potential? Need to think about it? That’s okay. You can tell me the next time we talk.