Elements and Practices for Congregational Stewardship
At the most basic level, doing something, anything regarding stewardship, will improve it. Regularizing stewardship in the congregation is what really makes a difference. These elements and practices for congregational stewardship are based on a survey of approximately 60 nationwide stewardship staff and 25 mission interpreter coordinators of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This survey was taken in February 2004.
- Congregations that have positioned themselves to have a vital role in the community, that have a focus beyond themselves, and that foster a healthy spirit in the congregation through strong relationships with the broader church, including synods and churchwide ministries, are poised for healthy stewardship.
- Leadership is key
for any congregation to be healthy. This
is also true for healthy stewardship
ministry. Recurring themes regarding
- Pastors are the key stewardship models and leaders.
- Pastors and lay leaders are passionate about and committed to growing in giving, talking openly about their personal giving.
- An active stewardship team is in place that works closely with the governing board.
- Leaders are trained and educated in stewardship.
- There is high expectation among the leadership and within the congregation.
- Education is fundamental for growing
stewards. These elements were recurring:
- Teach and preach stewardship with strong biblical principles.
- Teach the role of money in one's life.
- Teach personal money management.
- Preach and converse regularly about money as an expression of faith.
- Teach proportionate, regular, first fruits, and growth giving.
- Children and youth education curriculum include stewardship themes.
- Teach all-of-life stewardship.
- Interpretation and
congregational, synod, and churchwide ministries
are extremely important to increase accountability
and build trust within the congregation.
- Conduct a year round monthly emphasis on various ministries supported by member giving.
- Celebrate what offerings are doing by using personal stories
- Communicate connections, relationships, and partnerships of the whole ELCA.
- Tell the story of who we are as the ELCA, what we do in ministry together, and how we fund those ministries in a clear, compelling way
- Share personal stories of joy of giving.
- Eighteen most effective
practices used by congregations
strong in stewardship:
- They hold a commitment that stewardship is important. Their vision planning includes stewardship. They are clear about their purpose and mission.
- They give away a growing percentage of congregational income for ministries of the whole church.
- They practice first fruits and proportionate giving for mission support (benevolence) for the whole church.
- They build relationships with their members through personal contacts.
- They provide multiple opportunities for giving and serving.
- They foster spirit-filled giving and prayer development, emphasizing the connection between faith and money.
- They identify, explore, and nurture spiritual gifts of members, helping them to fulfill their passions.
- They develop an "asset-based" climate, using members' assets rather than meeting needs.
- They develop year-round stewardship programs.
- They ask boldly.
- They thank profusely and often.
- They engage in annual every member response programs for financial commitments, estimates of giving or pledges.
- They provide programs for regular (undesignated) and over-and-above (designated) giving.
- They use a program budget in addition to a line item budget.
- They separate stewardship programs from budget preparation.
- They provide quarterly reports on member giving to the membership.
- They establish mission endowment policies.
- They model first-fruits giving by sharing a percentage of their corporate income for ministry beyond the congregation.
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