“They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.”
In a recent blog, Olanda Carr, Senior Ministry Relations Officer for the Presbyterian Foundation, writes that over the past few weeks, he has been drawn to this passage of scripture…perhaps because all we have been doing for weeks and months is waiting – waiting for the next ‘phase” in a phased, reopening process; waiting for favorite businesses to reopen; waiting for worship services to resume. And, while some of the waiting has abated, it seems fair to say that we all have some additional waiting to do before things are close to normal.
The referenced scripture refers to those who were held captive in Babylon. Their only prospect for hope and deliverance was to be found in God. This scripture is often referenced by those who are in unusual and unfamiliar circumstances of danger, uncertainty, or want – to those who look to God for merciful deliverance and intervention. And, while we are certainly not captives during this time, there may have been times this year where we have perhaps felt that way! Our Americanized lens of expected comfort and convenience has shaped our view to resemble these circumstances – we are uncertain; times are unusual and unfamiliar.
The question then becomes, “How do we conduct a stewardship emphasis this fall in the midst of all of this waiting?” Perhaps we should start with the basics. Olanda writes, “The fall Stewardship season this year will be different, but we should not let that stop us. In fact, there are many things about this Stewardship season that will remain the same.” Here are some things to consider:
1. Stewardship should remain focused on God.
As the Babylonians came to realize, God is always the answer. While the pandemic has certainly changed a lot of things in our day-to-day lives, it has not changed this reality. Thankfully, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our stewardship campaign, communications, and other activities should always be grounded in our relationship to God, utilizing elements of prayer and scripture.
2. Stewardship should remain focused on the mission and vision of the congregation.
Catchy themes are great, but themes that unite scripture, mission, and vision are even better!
3. Stewardship should remain focused on ministry.
Contrary to popular practice, our members give of their time, talents, and treasures to support ministry efforts of the church. Communications focused on expenses and upkeep of the church can sometimes discourage generosity. Even during a pandemic, we must continue to focus on the ministry.
While many of the ministry activities normally operated from the church have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, “what ministries have we continued to do?” The answers to this question should be highlighted in all Stewardship communications.
4. Stewardship should remain focused on telling the story.
It is incumbent upon each of us to be able to articulate our theology of Stewardship. Pandemic or not, we all have a story to share. Our theology of stewardship is linked to the answers to a few questions, such as:
- Who taught you about the importance of giving to the church?
- Why do you give to the church?
- What has the pandemic revealed to you concerning your relationship to God?
- Similarly, what has the pandemic revealed to you about your relationship with your church?
Consider recording the responses to these questions and sharing them on the church website or social media. Now more than ever, technology is an effective way for us to share with one another. Use the gift of technology to share our stories in innovative and creative ways.
Yes, the pandemic has changed much of the world we once knew. Instead of waiting for our world to come back, focus on the world that is here today.
- In this world, we still serve a mighty God who can do amazing things.
- In this world, we still have the promise of hope.
- In this world, we still have the light that no pandemic can ever extinguish – the light of Jesus Christ.
Let this season of Stewardship be a time to refocus, renew, and reimagine!
POJ Associate for Stewardship
(Excerpts from Olanda Carr, Senior Ministry Relations Officer, serving the East Region for the Presbyterian Foundation)