In case you didn’t know, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as Giving Tuesday (or #GivingTuesday). It’s a day created to bring awareness to the needs of others after a plethora of consumeristic holidays (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday). It’s the day that officially kicks off the giving season as people begin to focus on their holiday and year-end giving. It’s a day to remember the needs of others but more importantly to act on those needs by giving of yourself in some way.
But My Church Meets on Sunday
Just because your church meets on Sunday doesn’t mean that you can’t have an impact this Giving Tuesday. It just means you have to plan ahead in order to make it happen.
So, in order to help you make the most of a great opportunity for community involvement, here are four ways your church can participate in Giving Tuesday.
1. A(Micro) Day of Service
It’s a Tuesday—most people have work, and most youth and college students are back in classes. How can we possibly have a day of service?
It might be difficult to pull together a citywide benevolence campaign for this day (though you do have the entire evening if you desire), but what if you could turn the macro event of Giving Tuesday into a multitude of micro events?
The Sunday before Giving Tuesday (so in this case, November 26), you can put out a standing challenge to your congregation. Have them think of one person or group they know personally that could use a pick-me-up this week.
Maybe it’s a mother whose kids are sick. A family who can be given soup.
Maybe it’s the student who sits alone at lunch week after week. A student who can be talked to and treated as a friend instead of a leper.
Maybe it’s the homeless community in your city. A homeless community who can have blessing bags delivered to them. Or an individual who can be treated to a cup of coffee.
There are opportunities everywhere. People just have to look for them.
So give your congregation the challenge. Tell them you’ll be following up (and do), maybe even calling people to bring forward stories the next week.
Giving Tuesday might be a regular workday, but if you push your church members to be specific, choosing a specific person and a specific action to perform on Giving Tuesday, you can make a micro day of service that will not soon be forgotten.
2. A Day of Visitation
What has more value than money? To many people, it’s time and attention.
I’m 99 percent sure that somewhere in your town, there is a retirement center or nursing home bursting with elderly men and ladies who are hungry for a smiling face and conversation.
Why not coordinate a visit with your congregation (and don’t forget the youth group)? Why not have a hymn sing in a month that doesn’t include Christmas? You can show love to these people with a mere hour of your time.
You don’t even need to sing—just go have a conversation. I assure you the residents will love it just the same.
The only thing this requires is a call ahead of time to ensure that they are expecting you. Your church might even gain a few new members when the employees see the love you have for their residents.
It’s a small step but one that will bring smiles to a multitude of (slightly wrinkled) faces.
3. The _____ Drive
Okay, so truth be told, you’re probably already doing a drive of some sort in your church. Whether you’re gathering toys and gifts for Operation Christmas Child, collecting food for your local food pantry, or assembling maternity clothes for local mothers who decide against abortion, you’re probably collecting something for the good of others.
However, Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to breathe new life into this program.
Select a goal. Make it something difficult yet still attainable. Then tell your congregation that for the month of November, you’re aiming to hit this goal.
But you can’t present this as a top-down decree—you need to get buy-in. Maybe one week you can have an employee of the benefiting organization visit to speak. Maybe you can find someone in the community who has been blessed in the past and have him or her come in. Maybe you just need to get a couple of youth who are passionate about the issue (the passion of young people is powerfully infectious) and have them speak.
Whatever you do, have the goal very prominent throughout your church and speak of it often. You can even have one of those thermometers that show progress toward the goal. These can be incredibly motivating.
Then, on actual Giving Tuesday, let everyone know (via email or otherwise) how you did. Maybe you hit it, maybe you flew past it, and maybe you missed it. But no matter what, highlight how much good was done. You might be surprised and have an anonymous benefactor donate the difference.
Giving Tuesday can be used as an excuse to bring new life to a program that has been running for years.
4. A Day of Donation
There is much pain and sorrow in the world. Especially this year. Every time you turn on the news, you see more devastation, more pain, more loss.
Why not, in the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday, have you and your congregation choose an issue they are especially passionate about? Whether it be clean water, evangelism to Muslims, discipleship of at-risk youth, or ending human trafficking, choose a specific cause to support on Giving Tuesday.
Once the cause has been chosen, find a way to share the cause every Sunday leading up to Giving Tuesday. Send out emails informing the congregation about the issue and (more importantly) what can be done to change it.
Then, on the Sunday before Giving Tuesday, take a special offering that will go to this cause. It might be two days before Giving Tuesday, but I promise it still counts. Then, on actual Giving Tuesday, share with the congregation how much money was raised and how much good it did for the cause.
Don’t know which cause to choose? I’d like to share one with you that is especially on our hearts this year. David C Cook (a nonprofit Christian publisher) has a global program called Life on Life that is all about discipling at-risk children and youth across the globe. We have over 9.4 million children currently in the program, but we’re trying to reach an additional 1 million children in India through a nationwide church launch.
These children will learn about the Father who loves them (even though many of their earthly fathers abandoned them). They also learn life skills that help them survive in a very scary and unforgiving world (imagine not knowing that the man talking to you is a human trafficker). Lastly, they learn character development to break sinful patterns that would otherwise continue into adulthood and likely be passed down to later generations.
I’m especially passionate about this issue, and I hope you’ll consider choosing this cause for your church to support—so that as a church, you can help minister to at-risk children and youth.
It takes only twenty-five cents to put one child through the program. To learn more, visit GiveLifeOnLife.org (or visit our Giving Tuesday page, where your gift is being doubled by a very generous sponsor).
Whatever You Do …
Whatever choice you make, whether you decide to have a micro day of service, visit the elderly, or bring the Life on Life project to thousands of kids worldwide, know that the acts you’re doing are pleasing to the Lord.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40 niv)