“Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.” — Psalm 4:5
For many parishes, last fall’s Stewardship Campaign is a distant memory and next fall seems a long way off. But beware: the fall will be here before you know it, and since stewardship provides muscle for ministry, it’s not too early to begin planning for your Fall Stewardship Campaign now. As you begin to plan your next Stewardship Program, here are some suggestions to consider:
- Pray without ceasing! Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide your Stewardship Campaign from start to finish.
- Evaluate last year’s Stewardship Campaign. What worked well? What didn’t work at all? Did your parish respond with generosity? Why or why not? Without proper evaluation, you may repeat the mistakes of the past.
- Create a system that can be duplicated. If your Stewardship Campaign was successful, create a system where your success can be repeated. With a system in place, you don’t have to spend valuable ministry time thinking about things that you’ve already figured out. Plus, you can teach your system to new lay leaders who can help you next year.
- Talk about Stewardship often. Does your parish dread the Fall Stewardship Campaign? It may be because they haven’t discovered that Stewardship relates to all aspects of their Christian walk. Jesus taught more about having a proper perspective on wealth and material possessions than He did on prayer! Stewardship is what we do with what we have all of the time; therefore, find ways to incorporate stewardship throughout the year. Teach about the stewardship of time and commitment at the New Year when people have the passing of time on their minds. Have a sermon on the stewardship of talents the week of a ministry fair when parishioners can consider how their talents can glorify God and minister to others. John H. MacNaughton, in his book More Blessed to Give, suggests not combining the stewardship of one’s time and talent with the stewardship of one’s treasure during the fall campaign. Instead, MacNaughton proposes teaching on the stewardship of time around the New Year when parishioners have the passing of time on their minds. He also recommends teaching on the stewardship of talents in association of a ministry fair, or at some other time when parishioners are asked to serve the church with their talents. This way, stewardship is before the parish at various times of the year and not only with the church is preparing to assemble its yearly budget.
- Between annual stewardship campaigns, consider helping people in the parish to be able to afford to be generous. Someone told me once, “I may look good and smell good, but I’m broke!” Most Americans are poor financial planners; we have very little savings and we have an enormous amount of consumer debt. This includes the people sitting around you in the pews. Why not help your parishioners to take control of their personal finances so they can afford to be generous to the Lord? There are many Christian-oriented teaching plans like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and programs by Crown Financial Ministries that can help teach personal finance and good stewardship.
- Consider using an “outside expert”. In the secular world of consulting, an “outside expert” is someone from at least 50 miles away who comes and tells people what they already know. Your parishioners probably know at least a little bit about biblical Stewardship, but an outside expert may be able to provide a fresh perspective on Stewardship that opens spiritual eyes and generous hearts to the concept. Check with members of the Diocesan Stewardship Committee or Canon Jim Lewis for a list of potential “outside experts” who can give a stewardship presentation to your parish.
- Good stewardship is often related to good discipleship. Teach on biblical stewardship, and when you finish, teach and teach some more. Biblical stewardship and the principle of the tithe are foreign to a culture that “buys now and pays later”. Be patient and keep teaching.
- Start early. This concept has already been mentioned briefly, but planning cannot be stressed enough. Imagine the message that is being preached if the congregation perceives that the Stewardship Campaign was thrown together at the last minute.
As your parish begins to plan for its 2014 Stewardship Campaign, perhaps the Diocese of South Carolina Stewardship Committee can help. This committee is dedicated to assisting all clergy and parishes to make Biblical stewards that grow the kingdom of God in the Diocese of South Carolina. The Diocesan Stewardship Committee strives to be a clearing house of the best written, oral, visual, and digital resources on Biblical Stewardship for the clergy and parishes of our diocese. Our committee includes The Revs. Jason Collins, Wey Camp, and Robert Horn. Please contact us if we can be of assistance.