In a more “normal" time, congregational planning would be underway for the annual campaign. Though it may look different this year, a strong campaign can still be planned. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination.
1. Don’t skip the campaign because you can’t ‘do it like before’
The old normal is gone -- we are in a new place. If you skip an annual campaign this year, you risk leaving people with the impression that it really isn’t important. It will no doubt be different, but it can be an effective way to have people focus on what the church means to them and to the community.
2. Emphasize: ‘the building is closed; the church isn’t’
This should continue to be the theme communicated to church members and the community. The farther people are from the center of church activity and planning, the easier it is to think that if the building isn’t in use, the church is on hiatus.
3. Connection is more important than perfection
Throughout the days since church buildings had to close as part of sheltering at home against the COVID-19 virus, we have seen countless examples of the benefit in keeping people connected— Zoom calls just to see familiar faces; texts to check in on loved ones or asking people if they need anything from the store.
4. Consider the ‘home meetings’ campaign model, adding zoom
Many of us have been using campaign models centered around events like congregational meals, visitations, or large worship services where the faithful bring pledge cards to the altar. A different model that is easily adaptable to our present circumstance is substituting Zoom meetings (or other videoconferencing options) hosted by members of the campaign leadership team. For those who don’t have smart phones or computers with video cameras, the church can provide provisions for dial-in.
5. Tell your story, but also listen
If you incorporate the idea of the group meetings as part of your 2020 campaign strategy, be sure that you not only tell the story of how your congregation has been about its mission during the pandemic, but also include time to listen to those present. Develop a list of questions for participants to answer. If people mention needs that your church is not equipped to address, determine if there are other groups better suited with whom your church could partner or support.
6. Theme worship services to campaign
Just as you would have done in an annual campaign in the “pre-corona days,” develop a theme for your worship that ties to your campaign.
7. Don’t rule out existing campaign resources
While all the elements of a pre-packaged campaign may not be adaptable for the current challenges, much of what is in these packages can be used. Most of the campaign materials offered by Cokesbury include study resources or themed devotionals, along with worship resources, sermon suggestions, and sample communications resources.
8. Be sensitive to economic hardships
One of the most important considerations in planning a campaign during this time of pandemic is to be sensitive to those who are going through trauma in many forms: illness of family members or loss of loved ones; loss of income due to loss of business, furlough, or elimination of jobs.
9. Be bold in inviting some to ‘step up’
On the other hand, you also might be bold enough to challenge those who have not felt the economic crunch of this past year. No doubt there are those who have continued to work and receive their pay, who are working from their homes and not commuting and filling cars with gas every week, not eating out as often or buying work clothes as often – and they received a stimulus payment on top! Find the wording that works in your context.
10. Begin and end with gratitude
Most important, begin and end every step, every email, every sermon, every tweet with “thank you.” Thank you for sticking with us through these tough times. Thank you for embracing ways of giving when we are not gathering every Sunday, etc.
excerpt from a story Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, Director, Stewardship & Generosity, Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.