Creating and Keeping A Dynamic Stewardship Focus in Your Church: Principles and Practices of Year-Round Stewardship
Creating and keeping a dynamic stewardship focus can be a daunting challenge for the church staff, especially if the staff is one bivocational pastor. Where do you start and how do you maintain? This is the first of a two-part answer to that question. You may not do everything listed here, but whatever you do will enhance ministry because, “Ministry grows where the money flows.”
Six Questions You Should Ask:
1) What is your current financial situation? Some churches need triage due to financial crisis in the church. The situation can come from a number of causes, but the need is immediate. A one-time offering may be needed to get the church over the immediate crisis, but a change in stewardship emphasis will be needed to keep the church from visiting this issue again. Conflict will deflect any attempts to bolster income. Conflict must be resolved before stewardship promotion will succeed.
Other churches see new ministry opportunities, but lack current income to make the ministry possible. A stewardship drive is one answer. Speaking with a wealthy church member and asking them to underwrite all or a portion of the cost may be another way to meet the need. There are other solutions and the less immediate the need, the greater the options.
2) What is your church’s vision (preferred future)? Scripture says where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18 NASB). Purpose and vision will drive the church’s focus and budget more than any other issue. Lack of vision will cause the church to fall into malaise, then conflict and then death. By contrast, vision will energize and direct the focus and income of the church. The toughest issue is to clearly communicate that vision in a way people both understand and become a part of.
3) What issues do you need to deal with? Issues vary almost as much as snowflakes. However, some common issues occur in churches. For growing churches it’s a lack of space and the constant training of new ministry teams. In transitional churches it’s seeking a vision and dealing with rising conflict due to lack of vision. In declining churches it’s staffing and lack of funds to pay the bills. All three churches need income to function and the issues must be dealt with in a redemptive manner or the money will remain insufficient for the task at hand.
4) What are you currently giving to missions? God calls the church to tithe and grace-give. Churches that tithe to missions catch a vision to ministry outside their walls and communities. Again, communication about missions and how the church is fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is vital. The Cooperative Program allows us to reach around the world through the 10,000-plus missionaries we send. Having missionaries on stateside assignment speak in your church will let people see their tithes and offerings at work.
5) How do you currently promote stewardship? Some churches do an annual stewardship promotion with a giving pledge by the membership. Other churches do a quarterly update with a focus on ministries accomplished versus how much was spent. Some pastors prefer to make stewardship emphases like salt – a little sprinkled on every sermon keeps people directed toward the stewardship lifestyle.
6) What is the giving per person per week in your church? Take the morning offering, divide it by the worship attendance and you get the average giving per attendee that Sunday. You can do this weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. This figure should be tracked on a regular basis, knowing that some Sundays will be higher than others. This lets the church know how much stewardship emphasis and what kind of emphasis is needed.
While there are other questions that could be asked, vision is probably the most important – if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. However, if you want to achieve what God has in store for you and your church, you must catch God’s vision for the future. People want to be part of something greater than themselves and they feel a sense of purpose when they feel connected to God’s call for the church and their personal lives. So the saying, “Giving grows where vision flows” really is true.
These six questions help tell the church its current situation. Next time we will discuss the principles and practices that will help your church become a lifestyle stewardship church.
For more information about stewardship, contact Rod Wiltrout, Church Finance Specialist & GuideStone Representative, by phone at 559/229-9533, ext. 258, or by email.