A new year is upon us and a lot of our churches are wondering what it will bring? The answer is that if we do what we have always done, things won’t look much different in 2022 than they did in 2021.
So how can we have a good stewardship year. While there are dozens of helpful strategies and goals, I would say the churches that do best are those who will spend this year on the following 5 resolutions.
First, your church needs an effective stewardship team. The focus of this team is to plan the year of stewardship teaching, campaigns, communicating, thanking, and the multitudinous tasks that connect giving with faith and our ministry together. As with all things in life, if no one is paying attention to it, it isn’t happening. If you want some help with this team’s work, contact me and we can talk.
Second, increase transparency. People are not generous when all they see is a financial black hole. Make sure your church family knows about your assets, income, expenses, and ministries. Perhaps we could go around to each Sunday School class or small group once this year to present the finances and ask for questions. Believe me, you will get them.
Third, set the date for a stewardship campaign. Your church needs a time each year where stewardship is the focus. Pick a theme. Preach a series. Have your classes and small groups read a book. Annual/regular giving and serving is the backbone of the church’s ministry. Teach and inspire them to take it to the next level.
Fourth, develop a planned giving ministry—now! We have watched hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, given by our members to their universities, non-profits, and other places they value. Sadly, we are often left to read about it in the paper. Speak with people before they pass away. Since they have been faithful givers in life, it is likely they would be faithful givers in death. This ministry is a good area for your stewardship team to lead.
Fifth, communicate often about your church’s ministry. Tell stories, lots of stories, about people’s lives impacted by your congregation. Share those stories on Sunday morning before the offering. Tell them in sermons. Write them in newsletters. Put a leaflet in your quarterly statements. Share a couple before Council meetings. Givers want to know if their gifts are having an impact—not on the budget—but on the mission. Remind them how that is happening.
There are many more ideas to help a congregation move forward, but if you aren’t doing the above, now is the time to start. As always, your Foundation is here to help with teaching, tools, and tips. We look forward to strengthening your already good work.
We make house calls. For more information about stewardship and giving, contact use here or by calling us toll free at 877-391-8811.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana