Live & Give With Joy!
Many congregations hold a stewardship celebration in October or November. For the next 6 weeks, I will share with you some resources that my congregation developed. My hope is that you will see that stewardship does not need to be a guilt-inducing time. It can be a time for congregations to focus their mission and use their God given gifts to serve others. Please feel free to message me if you would like additional resources or have questions.
This is a Stewardship Celebration!
It’s not an “annual campaign.” It’s not a “pledge drive.” It’s an opportunity to celebrate what your congregation has done in the past year and dream together of the ways God will call you in the upcoming year. Stewardship Celebrations include a constant giving of thanks. It doesn't matter how big your bugdet (or your deficit) is—it is time to thank people for what they have given, and to use stories to share the impact of their gifts. This doesn't mean you “sugar coat” a deficit or ignore difficult realities. But, don’t forget to celebrate what HAS happened, and what God WILL call you to do in the coming year. Celebrate God’s work in and through your congregation!
Stewardship Doesn't Need to be “Guilt-Inducing”
In seminary, I listened to a standard, guilt-inducing stewardship lecture. I was told that we as Pastors are obligated to give. That we waste our money on useless things and should consider giving to God instead. That people’s priorities are simply out of touch with God’s plan. When I left the class, I did not make a beeline to church so I could increase my pledge. Instead I went home and watched TV. That afternoon, on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah and Bono were launching the Product Red Campaign. They told me that 50% of profits go to help fight AIDS in Africa. They interviewed an HIV positive pregnant mother and told me that I could give $1 and a mother like her would receive anti-retroviral drugs for a day. If I participated, I could help save a life!!! Every Christmas gift I purchased that year helped support Product Red. I participated because I was told my contribution mattered, no matter the amount, and I could impact people’s lives.
I think the church could learn something from Oprah, Bono and Product Red. I also believe the gifts given to the church can have a far greater impact. But we need a different approach when it comes to telling people the impact of their gifts. Individuals have a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. When they see the impact their time and financial gifts make, they will be willing and able to participate on a deeper level. People will not give simply to help the church meet budget, and they won’t give more because they are told there is a deficit. But they will give if they know that their gift will help a child learn about Jesus in Vacation Bible School or will provide blankets to a homeless mother at a local shelter. Members will not give because they were asked to increase Synod Benevolence. But they will give, knowing $10 will provide a mosquito net to a family of 4 and potentially save a baby from dying of malaria. It is our job, as leaders, to help people see the impact of their gifts.
Tomorrow: Stewardship Timeline & the connection between Financial Health & Spiritual Wellness
Questions to Consider: What are the challenges you have experienced while ministering during difficult economic times? What has helped you during these times? What are the blessings you have found?