“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Eccles.3:1)
Most churches agree that stewardship should not be limited to the fall’s annual stewardship campaign but rather warrants a year-round emphasis. However, most churches fail to make stewardship a priority any time other than during their fall appeal. Once the annual stewardship process is completed, most stewardship committees go into hibernation until someone rallies them together the following summer. In order to experience bountiful giving and generosity, don’t limit focus on stewardship to the fall season or the annual pledge campaign. For hearts to change, teach and preach on stewardship the entire year.
If you preach from the lectionary, there is ample opportunity to preach on stewardship. Eleven of Jesus’ thirty-nine parables are devoted to the topic of money and possessions. Keep in mind the definition of stewardship as grounded in gratitude, revealed in prayer, lived in faith. Each step on the journey deserves its own focus and could be used to create a sermon and study series.
Throughout the year, be sure to offer adult education opportunities on the topic of stewardship. I can provide you with books and other materials that would work well for a Sunday morning class, a weekday Bible study, or a Stewardship Committee study. Take a look at the Resources tab on this website for a few possibilities.
Some churches choose to focus on one particular area of stewardship per month. For example, January could be environmental stewardship, February might be stewardship of relationships, March is stewardship of the body, and so on. This particular approach is helpful in broadening people’s understanding of stewardship beyond finances. People who are not typically receptive to the message of financial stewardship may be more easily engaged with this strategy.
Be sure to include the children and youth in your stewardship teaching. Provide children with Bibles and banks as a way of encouraging them in their understanding of the theology of stewardship.
Have a Plan
Now is the time to make a plan for the year. Be specific and intentional. Involve the session. Involve all the leaders and committees of the church in some way. Use lots of different means of communication so that everyone is included.
For more information and ideas, I would love to come and help you put together your year-round calendar of Stewardship!
Deborah Rexrode, Associate for Stewardship
Presbytery of the James