Stewardship Thoughts

I recently met Margaret Marcuson at a Stewardship conference and was impressed by her energy and enthusiasm for Stewardship. Margaret is a leader of leaders, ordained minister, and teacher and student of human systems. She speaks and writes on leadership and works with faith leaders nationally as a consultant/coach. She is on the faculty of the Leadership in Ministry workshops. Her most recent book is entitled, “Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance.”

Today I read a great article Margaret has written about celebrating. If you think about it, when we finish something, we quickly move on to the next challenge because there is so much to do. We often don’t take the time to celebrate. Sure, if we complete a building or other big capital project, we may have a dedication. We celebrate when a new pastor arrives, or when a pastor or staff person retires.

But we don’t celebrate the routine milestones or achievements. So, Margaret asks the question, “Have you celebrated the money you received in giving in 2017?”

It’s not too late. You can still celebrate, even though January is half over. Here are three reasons why it’s important.

  1. Celebrating provides a sense of completion for 2017. You say to people: Here are the facts about what we received from you in giving. Many churches have an annual meeting, where reports are presented. You can lift it up in a positive way (even if there’s a gap). If people don’t get clear information, they have a sense of incompletion which makes it harder for them to want to give more.
  2. People feel appreciated when you take time to express gratitude to them as part of the celebration. Whether it’s in your annual meeting, or in worship, you say, “Thank you! We couldn’t have done this without you and your giving. Thank you! Thank you!” You give thanks to the people who do the work of keeping the records and producing the reports. Even better, you write individual letters of gratitude to those who gave. In addition, when you also express gratitude to God for all the resources God has provided to your people and to the church, you help people grow in their gratitude.
  3.  You create a positive base for 2018. People have a good feeling about their giving, because they know their money is being handled carefully and used well for ministry. They know their giving is acknowledged, and that helps motivate them to continue giving.

You may ask, “What if we had a really challenging year? What if we have a big gap for 2018?” You can still celebrate the giving you did receive, and fully express your appreciation to your givers. We should always be candid about challenges. However, if we address those challenges with a sense of possibility and creativity, rather than a negative, guilt-ridden fear-based energy, we’ll be more likely to come up with real solutions.

Try this: Write down for yourself at least 5 things you can celebrate about giving in 2018. Then, in worship, at the annual meeting or in a message to your congregation, share a heartfelt message which includes:

  1. positive facts about 2017 giving
  2. gratitude to them for their giving in 2017
  3.  your hopes for this year for ministry and for the financial support of ministry

What a positive way to begin the year! I hope you will find this useful as you begin a new year of Stewardship in your ministries.

Blessings,

Deborah Rexrode
Associate for Stewardship

 

 

ARCHIVES:

Carols for Year End Stewardship – December 2017

Teaching Stewardship to Children – November 2017

Stewardship of Time (October 2017)

How Much is Enough (September 2017)

An Expression of Faith (August 2017)

An Annual Stewardship Emphasis (July 2017)

Defined by Generosity (June 2017)

Trust and Transparency (May 2017)

The “T’s” of Stewardship (April 2017)

Faithful Living (March 2017)

Embracing Stewardship (February 2017)

Making Stewardship Year Round (January 2017)

A Vision of Stewardship Ministry (December 2016)

Thanks and Giving (November 2016)

Healthy Congregations (October 2016)

Grace and Gratitude (September 2016)

Budgeting and Pledging (August 2016)

A Stewardship Plan (July 2016)

Things to Know about Stewardship (June 2016)

Summer Stewardship (May 2016)

Living Generously (April 2016)

People, Passion, and Possibilities (March 2016)

Imagining Abundance (February 2016)

Stewardship 101 (January 2016)

Our Christmas Offering (December 2015)

Living is Giving (November 2015)