Last newsletter, we began a series on Keys to Stewardship Ministry with a topic that should be foundational to the ministry and to everything around it: Prayer. The next few newsletters will continue this series; but as we present new topics each newsletter, these topics are not separate from prayer. Prayer should undergird all that we do in Stewardship ministry. Think of it in these terms: How can your stewardship ministry help establish God’s kingdom and accomplish his will in and through your church?
Mapping the route to a fruitful stewardship ministry begins with assessing and understanding where your church currently stands with regard to stewardship. Here are a few questions to help get your thoughts started:
What does your leadership believe about stewardship? If the senior pastor and other key leaders see stewardship only in terms of the offering plate, then this is the place to focus prayer and effort from the start. A fruitful stewardship ministry needs the backing of the church’s senior leadership, and if a holistic understanding of stewardship is missing, it will be tough to get a stewardship ministry started. If, on the other hand, leadership understands stewardship more holistically, a fruitful stewardship ministry can be a great support.
How well does your congregation understand stewardship? While this can be a little hard to gauge, you can get a hint by analyzing what’s taught from the pulpit as well as any other sources of teaching (Sunday School classes, adult learning classes, small groups, etc.). Does your congregation feel guilt at the mention of stewardship because they see it only in terms of giving?
How are most of your congregation members doing financially? Most churches have people at all different stages financially, but if there are special characteristics in your congregation, understanding those can help you plan your stewardship ministry to maximize fruitfulness. Is a large percentage of your congregation in debt? Retired? Just starting a new family and paying off college loans? Obviously, you don’t have access to their tax records – but pay attention to conversations, talk with church leaders and small group leaders, and you’ll get some insight into what your church needs out of a stewardship ministry.
Do you have some key members who are honoring God “above and beyond” with their finances? If so, you may have the foundation for a group of financial coaches or other volunteers in the stewardship ministry. This isn’t primarily about numbers (income, giving, or otherwise) but more about acting out of a heart for God-honoring stewardship. Do you know of people who are always looking for ways to give and serve? Does your church have “Barnabases” who are known for taking care of others (Acts 4:32-37)?
For more thoughts on assessing where your congregation is with regard to stewardship, see our article from last year, “A Better Stewardship Year, part 2.”