Many years ago, I remember seeing a small box in the lobby of a church that said, “Donate Thanksgiving Food Here.” I’m sure they meant well, but the expectation was quite small. A small box doesn’t motivate people to give big.
Maybe one of these days, we will plan to get the largest cardboard box anyone has ever seen! A box so large that a hole must be cut on the side to enter, and two or three people will be waiting inside to help stack the food given. Or maybe, we will change the nature of the standard offering plate. We could build three good size wooden boxes that require two ushers just to carry past each pew.
Those first two ideas may be borderline silly, but what about this: I’ve often wondered if the reason there are so many people in church on Christmas and Easter is because the church expects them to be? On those Sundays, the church pulls out all the stops. We publicize more than usual. We spend money to promote on the website and other publications. We plan more than usual. We add service times. We beef up hospitality and parking teams. We highly encourage the regulars to invite. Could it be that we expect more? Could it be that we create a bigger box on those special days and people fill it?
Expectation plays a huge role in how Christians in the church behave. As a church leader, what are the expectations for your congregation? Do they know the expectations? As a staff member, what are the expectations for the teams you work with? Do they know the expectations? Are you, through expectation, creating an environment for people to grow in faith, in love and in service?
Don’t make the box too small. It’s doesn’t motivate people to go big!