Pastors, it’s not too late to plan an emphasis on stewardship and generosity this fall. But it is almost too late.
Leading a church in this area takes intentionality and courage. Some pastors have such an allergy to the topic of giving that they don’t bring it up until it’s too late. Waiting until the end-of-the-year to broach the subject of stewardship almost always ends up sounding panicked. It comes from a mentality of scarcity (What if we fall short?!) instead of a trust in God’s abundant provision.
Besides, pastors soon discover that giving isn’t the turn-off they feared. Money matters play a huge role in the lives of your people—they want and need to hear what the Bible teaches about their role as stewards of God’s creation. As I’ve covered in Giving Up, when you teach about generosity, you are teaching the very heart of the gospel. (Consider John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, he GAVE…”)
Join Our Webinar: 10 Elements of Stewardship Emphasis
I’d like to invite you to join me on Thursday, September 20 at 10:30am (CST) for a free webinar where I will review the ten most important elements of your stewardship emphasis. These come from my long experience in speaking with my own church about generosity.
If you trust these concepts (and don’t take any shortcuts!), I know that your church will experience the transforming joy that comes from learning to live generously.
Here’s a Sneak Peak at 3 of the 10 Elements
As a sneak preview, I’ve previewed three elements below, but sign up today for the webinar to discuss this and more live with me!
The church leadership has to take charge of developing a plan. And for most congregations, this is the Rector.
I am fully aware that some Vestries take on the plans for Stewardship, but I think this is a mistake. Vestry members are elected because they are men and women of integrity, trusted by the community to be wise advisors to the Rector and the staff. But they are volunteers, whose day to day lives are taken up with their own vocations and families. They don’t have the bandwidth to carry the momentum for a stewardship emphasis and asking them to do so is burdensome and irresponsible.
The Rector and staff should take full and final responsibility for any stewardship or generosity emphasis. This requires dedicated attention and a broad enough perspective to see how all the pieces will fit together. If the Rector takes on this call, they will be able to seek out counsel from and collaborate with all other stakeholders, including the Vestry.
Some clergy will object, saying that ‘descending’ into a discussion about fund-raising with the parish sullies their ministry.
This is a false idea to begin with. Remember that Paul told Timothy to confront the wealthy people in the congregation in Ephesus. And remember, he goes on to say that the love of money—not the discussion or development of financial resources—is the root of all evil.
Clergy are bound to model a healthy relationship with money and should be willing and able to have honest discussions about it. (Read more about the Rector’s role here.)
You knew this already, right? You’ve got to bring the subject to the pulpit.
If your stewardship efforts are not tied to intentional, biblical instruction and exhortation, then you are simply coming to the congregation with your hat in your hand. By preaching about generosity alongside your other efforts, you remind the church that cultivating a generous heart is a crucial part of following Jesus.
Preaching about generosity is easier said than done, though. As you develop your sermons, prayerfully work through any anxiety or egotism that you have. This is not about you, your livelihood, or even your ministry. This is about inviting others into individual and communal practices of giving that we see time and again in the Scriptures.
Approach the subject graciously and warmly (using humor is always helpful), but don’t shy away from clear proclamation, and don’t shy away from the practical implications. Veering off into ambiguity is usually a sign of insecurity. Be honest and sincere, leaning into your role as shepherd and spiritual father to this community. (Read more about Preaching about Stewardship.)
The fall is a busy time: school starts (as well as football season), and suddenly people are making plans for Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then New Year’s…you get the idea. It’s also a busy season in the life of the church; many churches concentrate their programming and ministries to capitalize on the ‘back-to-school’ energy.
While all of that work may be healthy for the life of the church, you must elevate a clear platform for a stewardship emphasis. Don’t let it become just another announcement. Don’t let it be just the subject of the weekly newsletter. Don’t let it get lost amid small groups and retreats.
Growth occurs where there is space and intentional nurturing—make sure your stewardship emphasis has both. Allow it to become a point of unity across the life of the church, not just an add-on. And create lots of opportunity for engagement beyond the pulpit or the plate. Create venues for discussion and study in small groups or as families.
Creating this ‘calendar clearance’ may require some tough decisions and hard conversations, but remember that a stewardship emphasis will bless the very ministries that must—for this season—step out of the spotlight.
Did this whet your appetite? Join me on September 20 as I review all ten elements of a successful stewardship and giving emphasis in your church. I look forward to sharing from my own experience and hearing from you as well!