For many churches, the word stewardship is tied around a multi-week fall campaign or sermon series on giving. A stewardship plan needs to be more than a campaign. Your goal should be to develop a church stewardship program where people increase their commitment and giving throughout their lifetime.
What Is Stewardship?
Stewardship is the act of taking care of something, such as an organization or piece of property. In the church, stewardship refers to the responsibility of leaders to manage the finances given to them by their congregation. In fact, stewardship is deeply rooted in theology. We see in Genesis 2:15 that God placed Adam “in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (NIV). View more examples of stewardship in religion.
Creating A Stewardship Plan
Now that you know what it means to steward resources, how do you create a stewardship plan? Here are some great places to start:
1. Have an ongoing conversation in your church about generosity and giving. Stewardship should not be the focus for only two to three weeks in the fall.
2. Rather than showing charts with dollars and deficits, tell stories of impact and the many great things that are happening because of the generosity of the congregation. People enjoy giving out of a spirit of gratitude.
3. Invite congregants to tell stories of how the church is changing their lives. This helps them examine the impact of the church in their own life, something many in the congregation likely relate to.
4. Help people see the real needs your church has, not just a budget bottom line. This helps people connect their gift to the purpose and vision, rather than it being simply transactional.
5. Instead of focusing on the building and its needs, shift the thinking to the mission of the building(s) and all of the things that happen because of the people who use the building(s).
6. Regularly show gratitude for those who support your ministry, whether they do so through their time or finances. Many pastors and church staff do not see what people give, but people still need to feel thanked and encouraged. You can thank volunteers each time you give an update on a ministry. You can also ask staff to help you write thank you notes to those who give. They don’t need to see the amount given to say thank you.
7. Your stewardship plan can implement recurring online giving. This is a convenient way for people who plan to tithe but sometimes don’t because they are out of town or forget their checkbook. It also helps the church forecast their finances when giving is more predictable.
Involve Your Staff
Growing a church stewardship program takes time. It’s not just about raising money. It’s about changing people’s mindsets. To cultivate a deep-rooted spirit of generosity in your congregation and become a responsible steward of the funds that are given to your ministry, it helps to involve your staff. Brainstorm with your team what you think you can do throughout the year to communicate your vision, regularly give feedback on how it is being accomplished, and give them opportunities to further participate. Assign responsibilities and regular revisit it to adapt and layer in new things.
The Importance Of Financial Leadership
Developing a strong stewardship plan is part of becoming a strong financial leader in your church. Remember, your people are entrusting you and your team to do right with their contributions. Part of being a strong leader in your church includes being responsible, strategic, and transparent with money. Sign up for our free Financial Leadership For Churches Email Course to further your church’s stewardship program.