Have you ever been notified by an attorney that your presence was requested at the reading of someone’s will because you are going to receive an inheritance? Most people think this is a bittersweet time for obvious reasons. I can only imagine what it would be like because I have not experienced this, but for those who have, I’m told it is an emotional time. Imagine how it must feel to come to the realization that someone thought enough of you to want to leave you something upon their death. With that thought, you start to reminisce on the relationship you had with the person, and this reflection usually reveals one of three different types of relationships.
dgenerosityThese hot and hazy days of summer will soon be gone, and one of the busiest times of the church year is just around the corner. All of the fall programming returns, new Ruling Elders are trained and ordained, and preparing the budget for the coming year looms in front of us.
In order for your congregation to have an effective stewardship campaign/emphasis, you need a plan! Now is the time for you to make a plan for the fall. There are many methods for conducting a stewardship emphasis and collecting financial commitments in your congregation. The perennial question is, “What should we do this year?”
Every method has strengths and limitations. To decide which method best suits your congregation’s situation, you should begin by asking the following questions:
>> What methods have been used in the past few years?
>> When was the last time we did an Every Member Visitation?
>> How much time, energy, and money do we have to invest in the campaign?
>> How well do our members attend worship and other events?
>> What is the focus of our campaign?
>> How much do members know about the mission of the church?
The most effective method is the “Every Member Visitation” method but it needs to be well planned and takes a great deal of time, effort, and organization. However, it does generate enthusiasm in the congregation that carries over into many other areas of the church’s life. It is recommended that you only conduct this type of campaign every 3-5 years. Any program you decide to use should have variety to maintain excitement, intensity, and effectiveness.
Some of the most common types of annual stewardship campaigns are:
- Every Member Visitation Campaign – involves making personal contact with all members of the congregation in their homes.
- Small Group Meetings Campaign – depends on enlisting each member to attend a meeting in another member’s home.
- Sunday Worship Campaign – focuses on the commitment invitation and a reception during Sunday worship.
- Direct Mail Campaign – an effective mail appeal with a series of carefully written letters and a commitment card that is mailed or brought to worship.
- Congregational Dinner Campaign – the dinner is the main event with an outstanding presentation, and commitments are received at the dinner.
- Telephone Approach Campaign – similar to the Every Member Visitation but contacts are made by telephone rather than face-to-face.
- Consecration Day Campaign – this program is concentrated in a single 24- hour period with a highly charged worship service followed by the consecration.
- Personal Delivery Campaign – involves organizing the congregation into chains of families who pass on the commitment information to one another.
Your congregation is unique, and some of these plans may not fit into your culture. If you are looking for some new ideas to implement, maybe one of these appeals to you or could be adapted to your setting.
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” I think a better quote might be, “The definition of excitement is doing a new thing and getting new results.”
Associate for Stewardship Presbytery of the James
letr1 – Stewardship is a Year-Long Ministry
Every Sunday is an opportunity to preach and teach about stewardship. Seize that opportunity whenever you can. Listen for God’s messages on Stewardship in the scriptures. One good Stewardship sermon in the fall during the annual stewardship campaign is not enough. Think about the people who might miss that Sunday or even avoid that sermon.
Summer is just around the corner. We look forward to warmer weather, being outdoors, and taking time away from our routine work schedule. Busy people and busy families add another layer of activities to an already busy schedule. Children are home from school, and parents spend lots of time taking them to camps, sports, and other summer activities. We are good stewards of our time with friends and family. We are good stewards of exercise and relaxation.
I recently attended a Leadership Institute course at Union Seminary that focused on preaching and teaching stewardship and what it means to have “enough.” Chuck and Laura Mendenhall challenged us with the question, “In an era when there isn’t enough, how do we teach/preach generosity?”
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
How often have you had a great idea that you shared with your church committee, your session, or members of your congregation, only to be told, “we don’t have the money” or “that isn’t in the budget.” Too often we focus on raising the money first and then thinking about how we can advance the mission.
Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to God’s service, you could not give God anything that was not in a sense God’s own already.
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
For us as Christians, all that we have and all that we are belongs to God. So then what does stewardship look like in our lives today? How do we define stewardship?
As we journey through this Advent and Christmas season, we are reminded of the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, born in a lowly manger, born so that we might have eternal life. No gift that we could offer could ever compare but we are called to give all that we are and all that we have each and every day of our lives.