“And you also will bear witness.” (John 15:27)
Many parishes have found it beneficial to ask parishioners who have discovered the joy of sacrificial giving to briefly tell their stories. This might be done in the context of a stewardship drive or a capital campaign.
It is a wise priest who assists parishioners in shaping their story and assisting with editing their story if it is to be printed. The average parishioner will not be fully aware of their audience or how certain things may be interpreted. These are things the parish priest learns through hard experience.
Here is suggested language to help "shape" testimonies. It is recommended that this is sent to those who agree to give testimony either verbally or in written form.
Dear (name of parishioner)
I was deeply moved when I learned of your gift commitment. We believe that the story of how you (and your wife or husband) came to your decision would inspire and guide others to give similarly. We are asking that you write a half-page "testimony" that would be included in the campaign newsletter that goes out regularly to the community. It is recommend that you not mention how much you have pledged – only that it was a sacrificial gift. Of course, you have the option to write anonymously, if you so desire, though we believe the impact is heightened when people know the one who is giving the testimony.
We will include an introductory explanation for readers that will go something like…
We are inspired by many of the giving stories we are hearing in our efforts to raise the funds to (build our new church, renovate, increase stewardship, etc.). We have prevailed upon some of these donors to share their stories with a larger audience. Please know that the people who share these stories seek no recognition. They are telling their stories simply because the priest asked them to and because they truly believe in the importance of the project.
Here are some suggestions for those who give testimony. Please use your own language and speak from the heart. It is not necessary to respond to all of these questions. They are only offered for the purpose of helping you to formulate your thoughts.
The basic principles of writing in the 21st century apply here. We suggest: Keep it brief. Write in the active voice. Make one or two key points.
1. What does sacrificial giving mean to you?
2. How did you come to your decision?
3. How is your gift a sacrifice?
4. For what reasons have you decided to make this gift?
5. In what ways do you feel that you have been blessed?
6. Why did you feel it was important to give generously?
7. How do you now feel about your decision?