I recall a book called ìHardwiring Excellenceî by the administrator of a hospital. The book chronicled the change of culture in a medical facility as it began to serve the patients, their families, the community, the poor, and their own staff more effectively by building systemic practices that would sustain continued excellence. For instance, the author talks about how when he found a basic practice, such as expressing appreciation, that shaped employees and patients to greater fullness, then the leaders would figure out a way to make the expression of genuine appreciation a continuing value throughout the organization.
This made me think about how pastors and church leaders absolutely need to ìhardwireî in their churches the regular and genuine and personal expressions of appreciation for those who are giving of their time, their leadership, their wealth, and their prayerful encouragement to support the mission of the church.
When I served as pastor, I regularly sent personal, hand-written cards to people who had dramatically increased their pledge from one year to the next. Iíd buy some fine James Avery card stock, and write something like, ìDearÖ., I noticed the significant increase in your pledge this year over last year, and I simply want you to know that I give God thanks for your growing generosity. You are changing lives through your support of the ministry of this church. I pray that you receive a deep sense of blessing for offering these gifts, even as your gifts serve as a blessing to this church and the people we serve in Christís name.î
Not only would I send thank you notes, but so would other staff members in their areas of responsbility. In fact, I often received a thank you note from another staff member for helping support their youth or mission projects, even though I felt I was just doing my job as pastor to do so!
How are you and your church doing at expressing thanks? Do you thank your Sunday school teachers, your ushers and greeters, your choir, your finance and trustees members for their service? Do you thank parents for helping with the childrenís ministry? Pastors, do you thank your laity who are leading your congregations with commitment and dedication and faithfulness? Laypersons, do you thank your pastors, your musicians and your church staffs for their fine work?
ìEncourage one anotherî Paul writes time and time again in the New Testament. How do we ìhardwireî the ministry of encouragement into the culture of our congregations?
Yours in Christ,