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How to Handle Charitable Appeals in Your Group
by Tom Goodman
November 19, 2010

We get so many appeals for worthy causes to support, especially in the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But how can Sunday School teachers and other church leaders promote generosity without overwhelming the people who attend our programs?

Your missions leaders and staff have done the research and have recommended certain causes that our congregation has decided to identify with.  So, we ask that when you're gathered at a Hillcrest event, focus on things we've agreed to support as a church.

Following this principle accomplishes three things:

  • First, it frees you as a leader from having to make a judgment on which charities will and will not be promoted in your class or group.  If one of the members wants to circulate brochures or take up a collection for a certain cause, you can simply say, "Let's submit that to the missions committee first and see if they want to recommend that to our church."
  • Second, following this principle will increase our church's impact.  There's power in channeling our energies and gifts into a few charitable causes instead of scattering our efforts into any and every cause that we hear about.
  • Third, following this principle will keep members and visitors to your group from being overwhelmed.  We want to limit appeals to only a few special offerings beyond the unified budget so that people can come and bring their friends without being inundated with constant requests for help.

Of course, people should feel free to talk about their favorite charities to other participants in a class or a meeting at Hillcrest.  But promoting and collecting for those charities needs to be done outside of Hillcrest events.  For example, imagine a family that funds several missionaries who are not part of the missions agency our church supports.  Let's say they invite several of their friends to come to their house to learn about the missionary work and to join in supporting it.  While we wouldn't want the family to use Sunday School time to hand out brochures and pass the plate for their cause, it's certainly appropriate for the family to invite Sunday School class members to their home for this purpose.

As a class leader, see how you can tie in to the causes we've already researched and we're already promoting as a church.  If you have another cause you'd like to see us support, follow the process we've set up to work together as a congregation.  Submit the idea to our missions committee, who can research it and recommend its adoption.

Certainly, there are exceptions to this general rule.  For example, one of our Common Ground groups collected items to restock a family's food pantry after a flood.  Praise God for their quick and generous response to an urgent need!


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