It is that time of year when thoughts turn to the annual stewardship campaign. Too many churches think about their stewardship or pledge campaign a few short weeks before the event. Usually that means that someone “writes a letter.” In that letter we remind them it is time to pledge, and would they support the budget by bringing their pledge to church on such-and-such date.
This year let’s plan to do a little better. Perhaps the following thoughts would help:
- Have your finance team tune in to the July 9 webinar provided by our UM Discipleship Ministries. This will give you some good thoughts on improving the fall campaign. For sign up, go here.
- Do a congregational study on stewardship. Your church could read a book for 3-4 weeks and center the Sunday worship around the book themes. Many publishers have produced stewardship programs complete with letters, videos, small group studies, and worship helps. There are several good choices, some of which you can find here.
- Recruit a team to plan the campaign. Do this soon. Decide the material to be used and follow the many important steps in order to have a campaign that is full-bodied, not half-hearted.
- Make sure your pastor is on board. Pastors are responsible for Word, Sacrament, and Order in the life of the church. This falls under Order. An enthusiastic pastor will encourage the planning team and enliven the congregation.
- Remember that the campaign isn’t finished until the follow-up is followed-up. Touching base with folks for an appreciation sets the stage for future generosity. Inviting those absent from church to offer a pledge is a courtesy to them and gives your church a better gauge of giving in the year ahead.
There is no neglecting the important matter of money—of resourcing our mission and ministry. However, please remember that stewardship is more than money. It encompasses a broad understanding of managing our gifts, talents, time, and money, in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Concentrate on that and not just on the budget. People will respond.