Overcome the Summer Giving Slump by Teaching Stewardship

Every church seems to go through a summer giving slump. People are on looser schedules, go on vacations, and sometimes forget to give to God's work in their church. Three years ago we decided to institute an initiative to curb that slump. We call our initiative the Summer Investment Plan. We landed on that name because we want to convey that when you give (the right way) to God's work, you get something back that's worth infinitely more than the money you gave. It's an investment with eternal reward.

The first year we gave away some beach themed promotional items like a plastic cup and a reusable shopping bag with our church's logo to help our people keep their church in mind while they're out and about. We also gave them some articles to help them model & teach their family stewardship. We even gave the kids a little bank to save their offering in throughout the summer.

Even though we've changed what we do from year to year, we've seen this initiative reduce that slump to more of a small bump in the road. This summer, we've got some really cool things planned.

For the Kids

Something that we've always tried to do is give parents the tools they need to teach their kids about stewardship using the save, spend, give model. In the past we've purchased banks branded with our logo and given parents craft instructions on how to make save, spend, give jars. Our Children's Pastor, Mark Gouge, has also written an incredible post on teaching your kids about stewardship. This year, we've decided to give our kids a pre-made save, spend, give tool: Moonjars.

After researching all the options I could find, I landed on Moonjar. It's simple, well-designed, and really affordable. To get them in bulk, they only cost $3.35 each (compared to other options out there that are well over $10 each). Once we get them in and distribute them, I'll give a more thorough review. However, I think they are the best solution if you're looking to equip your parents with a tool to teach their children about stewardship.

For the Adults

This year, we're going to be doing the coolest thing we've done so far. We're going to offer three different financial help seminars for our people: budgeting, retirement planning & estate planning. We'll also record these times so that people who miss out because of the normal summer activities can watch them later.

The whole idea here isn't just to do a big campaign about money to get people to give more. The Summer Investment Plan gives us an opportunity to add value to our people's lives. For the younger folks, we want to help them develop a budget and understand the way God wants us to handle our money. For our middle-aged folks, we want to help them be wise with their money so that they can be more generous. For our older folks, we want them to have a plan for their resources for when they go on to be with the Lord.

Online Giving

Finally, one other thing that you can make available to help your church be in a healthy financial position through the summer months is online giving. Make sure you have an easy-to-use, recurring online giving system & encourage people to use it. Recurring is the keyword here. That means your offering is given even if you forget. There are lots of great companies out there to help you facilitate online giving if you don't yet offer it.

As far as encouraging your people to buy in and sign up for recurring online giving, The Rocket Company has a great campaign that you can use called Automate the Important.


What does your church do to make sure that ministry still happens in the summer?

Our New Baptism T-Shirt

This summer we're going to be doing a big baptism event so we wanted to create a special t-shirt in which people can get baptized and keep to commemorate the event.

Because our pastors often use a phrase based on Romans 6:4 when they baptize someone, we wanted to echo that in the shirt.

 
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
— Romans 6:4 (ESV)
 

We also wanted to illustrate those two ideas in the shirt as well. The solution we landed on was to use a blue color for the first phrase on the front (under the water) and use white for the phrase on the back.

Resources Used:

Update:

First Baptist Colleyville in Texas used this shirt design for one of their baptism services. Check it out:

 
 

Does your church do big baptism events or have a special baptism shirt? Let me know. I'd love to see your church's shirt and learn about what you guys do.

5 GIFs to Keep on Tap for a Legit GIF Game

You know how the saying goes: "A GIF is worth 1,000 words." So that's precisely why I use them to respond to my friends in text message conversations. Here are five of my favorite GIFs to respond with and the best situation to use them in.

1. Awkward finger guns for awkward moments

2. "Just shut up" for when someone says something dumb

3. "I don't care anymore" for when you're ready to call something DONE

4. "I'm laughing at you" for when you need to mock someone

5. "Whatever" for when you really don't have a good comeback

What are your go to GIFs? Seriously. I'd like to add them to my arsenal.

PS - GIFs can also consume a lot of space on your phone so I use an app called GIFwrapped to keep that to a minimum.

Why Creatives Should Read More Fiction

If you do creative work, you need to read fiction books. 

When we need inspiration, we usually hit Dribbble, Pinterest, Designspiration, Behance, etc. I'd say that something we should do to keep ourselves sharp as creators is to read fiction. Here's why:

 

1. You'll exercise your imagination

It's no secret that we tend to lose our imaginations as we grow up so we need to do things that kindle that fire. According to Robert Bruce, fiction "works out" a different area of your brain.

Working in a creative field and only reading nonfiction is like training for a marathon by doing pushups and curls. You’ve got to work out the creative part of your brain.
Robert Bruce

2. You'll practice creating

How often do you get to create something that's just for you? No strings attached. No deadline to worry about. No money on the table for it. No critique. That's what your mind is doing when you read fiction. There's nothing quite like envisioning the landscape of a new world or imagining what a character looks in your mind.

[Creativity is] about making stuff where there was nothing. With fiction, it’s the story, the characters, the setting, the dialogue.
Robert Bruce

3. You'll be better

The first two reasons combined will make you better at what you do. Designer, writer, photographer, whatever. You'll discover new ways of looking at things. Take for instance these five things Robert Bruce learned about writing.

You may not learn the same things when you read, and that's okay. But it could be the catalyst that leads to you creating something great or getting unstuck.

One study even suggests that fiction readers are more creative, exercise better judgement, and are more comfortable with disorder and uncertainty.

 

How Do I Get Started?

Austin Kleon has some great advice:

Robert Bruce also has some good advice about how you can make more time to read.

 

What I'm Doing

I decided to start reading more fiction toward the end of last year. I've always wanted to read The Chronicles of Narnia series so I bought a cheap used copy on eBay and started there. Before the year ended I made it through The Magician's Nephew and absolutely loved the book. So this year I decided to set a goal for myself: read at least 26 books in 2015. I'm not reading all fiction. To see my full book list and check out my progress click here. Here's what's on the fiction (or reading for pleasure) section of my list in no particular order:

 

If you have any recommendations of books I should consider adding to my list, let me know in a comment.