Some Ideas on Stewardship
Often folks ask for ideas or suggestions about how to improve giving in their local church. While there is no one way to approach this here are some questions to ask before putting together a stewardship campaign:
- Do you, as a leader of your congregation, personally tithe? Tithing is a spiritual discipline that needs to be a part of the life of every believer. It is a way of recognizing that everything we have is a free gift of God. In God’s amazing generosity we are to keep 90% of what God has given us, but we are to give the first 10% back to remind us of who we are and whose we are. When we understand tithing we understand God’s abundance. Successful campaigns always emphasize the spiritual discipline of giving as opposed to raising money.
It will be very difficult for you to lead the congregation to tithe or to challenge them to increase their giving if you are not tithing yourself. You cannot pretend on this one. Your congregation will know by what you say and the way that you say it whether or not your own giving is in line. This is something that will require prayerful consideration on your part before you begin to plan a stewardship campaign.
Teaching and living good stewardship principles is a way to combat a culture obsessed with consumption and greed. The recent economic times have made folks more receptive to this message than at any time in recent memory. We now have new opportunities to help families free themselves from the money monster.
- Does your leadership team tithe? (see above) In some churches just requiring the leadership team to tithe would balance the budget.
- Can you draw a straight line from each line item of your budget to your mission? Gone are the days when folks give out of a sense of duty, to support the church, or to raise a budget. People will give willingly and excitedly to make a difference in the lives of other people. How is each specific program of your church tied to the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ? How did each program change lives in the community in the last year? How many of the guests that attended VBS actually joined the church? How are their lives different? How is the building in use during the week as a witness and outreach to the community? Do you know the stories of the folks who have been touched by local benevolent giving? The budget needs to be tied to the mission of the church and show clearly how each area is making a difference.
- Do you talk about stewardship all year? In the book of Nehemiah the people of Israel are rebuilding Jerusalem. About every 30 days they lose track of what they are trying to accomplish and lose heart and begin to quarrel with each other. Nehemiah has to remind them every month why they are rebuilding. Some call this the Nehemiah principle – vision must be restated at least every 30 days. Each month schedule a mission moment where you share the story of your giving at work. Each month have an article about the joys of tithing from one of your members. Share a video of the church at work during one of your offerings each month. Tell the story, recast the vision every 30 days.
- Have you prayed about it? All of our efforts need to be bathed in prayer. Prayer is the channel that opens us to God’s grace, guidance and abundance. It is amazing what God will do when we invite God to lead!
God has blessed each one of us with abundance. God want desperately to make us a blessing to the world. Our faithful giving is what makes that possible.
Director of Financial and Administrative Ministries