A Time For Stewardship

May 19, 2022 by Olanda Carr

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2   a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3   a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4   a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5   a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6   a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7   a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8   a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

This familiar scripture teaches and reminds that there is literally “a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), a time that God alone holds. While technological advancements have accomplished many things through the years, the essence of time still remains as one thing that we cannot change.

Instead, we must seek to understand the seasonality of time, lest we be consumed by our desire to control it. And while stewardship isn’t expressly mentioned in the list of times among the aforementioned passage verses, I believe there is a lesson here for us. “A time for stewardship” isn’t necessarily the fall! Subsequently, “a time to rest from our stewardship labors” isn’t the summer months. We must remain diligent in our practices of embracing year-round stewardship as a component of a broader culture of generosity. As such, June is the perfect time to focus on stewardship!

I suspect a few of us may need to be convinced of the appropriateness of a June stewardship focus. To address this skeptical perspective, perhaps we should remind ourselves that effective stewardship practices often incorporate the sharing of stories. Stories of ministry inspire, often promoting generosity from the membership.

I contend that few months have better stories to share than June! After all, June is often the month when we recognize our graduates and other school-aged members. Connecting these milestones and achievements of our youth to the future ministry of the church can be an effective way to encourage stewardship. Further, if your congregation uses an annual stewardship theme, identify ways that the theme can be used in the promotion and communication efforts concerning these events. If your congregation doesn’t have graduates or school-aged youth, have no fear – there are other stories that can be in told in June as well.

June is also an excellent time for a temperature check, as June 30 marks the end of the second quarter or, in this season of NBA playoffs, halftime! It may be hard to believe that 2022 is almost halfway over.  I have become convinced that the pandemic has changed our perception of time, as I often find myself referring to “before the pandemic” as a memory marker.

Nevertheless, ‘pandemic time’ or not, it doesn’t change the fact that midyear is upon us. As such, it is perhaps a good time to reflect upon our ministry activities of the year. What stories have we captured during the first six months of 2022? And how can we share these stories of ministry with the congregation?

While communication methods certainly vary from congregation to congregation, many find midyear ministry summaries to be a good component to midyear financial reports. In other words, in addition to updating the membership on pledges and gifts received during the first half of the year, it would be advisable to also include a summary of the ministry activities that have occurred during the first half of the year. Including such a summary can strengthen the connection between financial contributions and ministry, as financial contributions have enabled the highlighted ministry activities to occur. And don’t forget the pictures! Pictures can really spice up a midyear financial gifts summary.

There is certainly a time for everything. Regardless of how many times I read this passage of Ecclesiastes, I am generally calmed by this subtle yet poignant reminder. But I don’t believe this passage calls us to embrace and accept habits and traditions as elements that cannot be changed. To the contrary, I believe this passage challenges us to observe the patterns and seasons of life and respond accordingly to the ebbs and flows. And isn’t that stewardship at its core? Responding to God’s abundant grace – a grace that is year-round, not just in the fall? Many of us may have previously never thought of June as a month to encourage stewardship, but perhaps this is ‘a time’ for us to try.

Olanda Carr is the Senior Ministry Relations Officer serving the East Region. He works with congregations to create a culture of generosity, offers seminars and workshops, develops gifts and fundraising plans for ministries, and provides coaching to finance, stewardship and endowment committees. Olanda holds a BBA and MBA from Montreat College (North Carolina) and is an elder and assistant treasurer of First United Presbyterian Church. He resides in Charlotte with his wife, Monica.