What does it mean to lead a Stewardship Ministry? I find the following three steps to be an effective way for us to design a stewardship ministry.
First, I reach out to the people who are serving as stewardship leaders in their congregation. In some situations, that may be the pastor, or it may the pastor along with other laypersons within the congregation
– people who serve in leadership/officer positions. It may be a committee specifically designated to develop the stewardship plan and implement the stewardship emphasis for the year. The more people you include in this process, the more effective your stewardship ministry will be. People who serve as role models in the congregation are effective stewardship leaders. They demonstrate a high level of commitment not only in their giving but also in their gifts of time and talents.
Second, I begin to explore with these stewardship leaders their passion for this ministry. I invite them to tell me their story. Tell me some of the history of the church. Where has it been? What does the faith journey of this congregation look like? What is happening now? What is the ministry and vision of this community of faith? So much can be learned about the mindset of a congregation when asked to share their story. You can determine whether this is a congregation that has a history of success or struggle. In order to have an effective stewardship ministry, the congregation needs to know and claim their story and to be able to grow from those roots.
Third in this discernment process is the ability to broaden our understanding of what stewardship means. Stewardship is not only about financial giving. Quite often we give most of our attention to the financial aspects of stewardship and give less attention to the other things that create a holistic vision of stewardship ministry – stewardship of time, talents, creation, relationships, worship, and even stewardship of our bodies. Our conversations about stewardship tend to be about the scarcity of our resources rather than the abundance. I seek to turn the conversation around to help stewardship leaders see the abundance right before their eyes – to see the talent and the energy, the potential and the willing spirit, to focus on the positive and the possibilities.
As Paul encouraged those in Corinth, we should be encouraging our congregations to find abundant joy even in the midst of our struggles and let our poverty overflow in a wealth of generosity. “For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints…they gave themselves first to the Lord.” (2 Cor. 8:3-5)
When our people have a passion to give themselves first to God, the possibilities of sharing in the ministries of our congregations will overflow in a wealth of generosity.
There will be an abundance of time, talents and treasures enough to do all that God is calling us to do in the congregations where we serve.
Deborah Rexrode, Associate for Stewardship
Presbytery of the James