Friday, August 3, 2012

A lesson from the Olympics; Key points for engaging parishioners

As I have grabbed a few minutes here and there to watch the Olympics competition,  I found myself emotionally involved with some of the races and the results even when I knew the final outcome. As it turns out, this was generated in part by the "human interest" backgrounds provided about some of the competitors.  I am not a fan of reality shows and, frankly, have stopped watching some of my past favorites because they had introduced so much content about the people in place of the action.

Yet here I am, taking in the information and getting involved in the story.

It occurs to me that the technique and my reaction are consistent with recommendations from the Bishops pastoral letter on Stewardship, research by Chuck Zech and Villanova University, and our own past recommendations about getting parishioners to use Online Giving!  I'm sure you wonder how I arrived at this connection...

Here are a couple points to consider:

1. Use Lay Witness talks.  People respond to other people much more deeply than to a concept. The purpose of the lay witness talk is for a person to tell their story.  Those who share perspective and life experience with the lay witness will respond and react.  This was the reaction I was having to some of the Olympic competitors.  So use people in the parish to talk about their experience with Online Giving (and of course other spiritual topics).  If your parishioners share their experience it becomes more real and accessible for others.

2. Appeal to peoples need to give.  We have a deep need to respond through our actions, prayer and financial contributions.  Yet the triggers for our response are different for each of us, rooted in our formation and life experience, and our interests and priorities.  As part of the stewardship process and also to gain acceptance for your Online Giving application, your parish must appeal to this need to give by making the connection to parishioner priorities, interests and experience.  Back to point number 1.  The lay witness talk or "human interest" story is a great way to make this connection.

So as you embark on your journey with Online Giving, consider the Olympics.  Online Giving provides convenience and security for parishioners, and consistent cash flow for the parish. Yet even those of us with good intentions may not take the step to do the simple registration.  We need the extra reminder and push to make that effort.  The parish can help by providing Olympic moments - stories from parishioners about their experience that help the rest of us realize that using Online Giving would be a pleasure rather than a burden.

And ultimately the great works we can do as a parish with the gifts we all share!

Have you had any Olympic moments?  Please share.

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