Alan Wildes

Alan Wildes

Why should we physically fill out a commitment card?

During a campaign, I am sometimes asked by churches why having a physical commitment card and encouraging the entire congregation is such a big deal. There are some aspects of a campaign or initiative that churches can and should tweak to fit their culture, but a commitment card must remain a staple item. 

That seems strong, but here’s why: 

Being married to Pam for 28 years now, I still wear a wedding ring as a way of symbolizing my commitment to my marriage. The ring does not make me married. I could be married without it. But the physical symbol is important to me, it’s important to my wife, and it sends a message to those who see it. 

Did you catch that? It’s a physical symbol… of a commitment. 

In today’s culture people are less inclined than ever before to commit.  Have you hosted a party lately that required an RSVP?  How did that go for you?  It’s harder and harder to get volunteers at church to serve in any capacity due to so many appealing options for families and individuals to choose from outside the church.  

Regardless of the situation, we are hesitant to draw a line in the sand and say “I stand for something.”  That’s why giving is such a big deal.  Nothing invites God into our lives like giving.  Giving is a tangible way to show our trust and commitment to God.  Giving often paves the way for God to show up in our lives in a powerful way.  Giving back to God is definitely worth a written commitment.  It’s powerful. 

I cannot stress the importance of printing out a well-designed commitment card for your congregation to complete together. 

Here’s the Top 10 reasons to have a physical commitment card:

10. There’s something about writing it down.

A goal when written is much more likely achieved than one that remains in the head. A written commitment makes it real and provides a mechanism for accountability. 

9. They provide an opportunity for personal (self) assessment. 

When you’re writing something down, you’re more likely to be careful to get all the details and facts right. That means evaluating what you currently are giving and then taking time with the Lord to think about what giving more could look like.

8. Cards communicate the importance of personal growth in giving. 

Our most important decisions in life are confirmed by written documentation: marriage licenses, home purchases, birth certificates, just to name a few. When we complete this card, we’re going through the process of making it official the personal growth within generosity that will come with it.

7. The card, from day-one, represents the culmination of an important commitment to a spiritual journey. 

If you’ve done a campaign with me, you can remember how intentional every step of the process is. Each one of these important steps drives all of us to the commitment that is sealed with the signing of this card.

6. Cards enable church leaders to assess and measure the congregational generosity. 

Growing churches will be ones who operate out of faith (and write their budgets that way, too). Not only will commitment cards give leaders a better perspective about future operations of the church, but they give a clear picture on where their congregation values generosity right now.

5. Cards motivate a specific increase in one’s generosity. 

A well-designed commitment card not only shows a sample gift schedule of how our year-long giving is broken down into weeks and months, but it also showcases a gift profile of what it will take from the congregation as a whole to reach their financial goal. “Where do I fit into the bigger picture?” A commitment card helps answer that question.

4. They provide a point of conversation and decision for an individual and couple. 

Using the sample gift schedule and gift profile guide provided on the physical cards, individuals and couples can pray through the card and determine the sacrifices needed to be more generous. Commitment cards can provide places for the couple to sign the card together and a perforated side to keep at home as a symbol and reminder of their commitment.

3. Commitment cards provide a timeline for decision personally and organizationally rather than an undefined closure.

While spoken promises may hold some value, they cannot sit on the kitchen table as a constant reminder of the upcoming decision. Commitment cards provide this timeline and are physical reminders of prayer and upcoming sacrifices.

2. There’s an opportunity to celebrate and turn them in together; offers an occasion for a church-wide step of faith and commitment.

Talk to any Pastor or leader who has led a campaign alongside me and they’ll tell you that their Commitment Sunday was one of the highlights of their entire year, and sometimes, career. It is a powerful moment to watch entire congregations get up from their chairs, come forward, and turn their cards together. What follows is moments of praise and celebration! 

1. There’s power in a physical symbol. 

We end our list the way we began it and turn to scripture to see the power of a physical symbol. At the end of the Great Flood, God provided a rainbow as a sign of His redeeming grace given to humanity. Following Jesus’ ascension, a dove was present to celebrate Pentecost to show the presence of the Holy Spirit. As David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel, he used oil. By joining the rest of the congregation by completing and turning in the card together, this symbol shows the powerful bond of a church uniting together to bring the Gospel to their communities.

In today’s world where society increasingly has more trouble with long-term commitment, physical commitment cards serve as a powerful symbol for our commitment. The moment that is generated in your worship service during Commitment Sunday will be the highlight of your campaign. These thin pieces of paper can weigh heavy in our hearts and in our minds, and serve a greater purpose than record keeping. I still remember filling out my very first commitment card with my wife over 20 years ago and how God used that moment to dramatically change our life. 

As you lead your church, I urge you to not overlook the power of a physical commitment card and what the Holy Spirit can do through physical symbols. 

What has been your experience with using commitment cards? Let me know your thoughts about commitment cards in the comments!

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Alan serves as Vice President of Generis, a company that exists to accelerate generosity toward the church's God-inspired vision.

Copyright 2018