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.
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.
is key for any congregation to be healthy. This is also true for healthy stewardship ministry. Recurring themes regarding leadership are:
- 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.
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.
of 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.
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.