Stewardship of Time and Talents

July 22, 2022 by Robert Hay

This summer, I have spent time at the Presbyterian Association of Musicians Worship and Music Conference in Montreat and supported the General Assembly meeting both in-person and virtually. My kids attended church camp at Living River in Alabama and they attended the Montreat Middle School Conference at Maryville College. As I am reflecting on our summer, it strikes me that we as a church are so blessed by so many people who give graciously of their time and talents.

The Worship and Music Conference and the Montreat Middle School Conference were full of volunteers who were sharing their time and talents. There were back-home leaders who gave up vacation time to be chaperones with youth. There were volunteer small group leaders who led the youth through devotion and music and recreation. At Living River there were volunteer camp directors and volunteer nurses, and volunteers doing maintenance and construction.

General Assembly had over 450 commissioners and advisory delegates who gave of their time and energy and who spent countless hours discerning how to make our denomination better.

Plus, there were dozens of other volunteers who were there in supporting roles that included things like hospitality, AV support, parliamentary support, helpdesk support, and chaplain support.

Looking back at these events, it is easy to see where so many gave of their time and talent. However, we often overlook how many people are giving of their time and talent in our own congregations. Our congregations are full of people sharing of their time and talents. Musicians in the choir, ushers, nursery volunteers, cooks for fellowship meals, the AV team, the session, the diaconate, etc. We have members who spend hours each week making sure big mission projects occur and making sure there is someone to greet you at the office if you walk in on a Tuesday afternoon. The church is not the church without these saints.

The nursery rhyme that we all learned as a kid where you put your hands together and say “Here is the church and here is the steeple. Open all the doors and see all the people!” It says, “see all the people!” It doesn’t say, “see all the staff!” The church is not the staff. The church is not the pastor or the music director, or the administrative staff.

The church is not the building. The church is the people.

So, as we approach a new programmatic church year this fall, I would encourage you to begin to pay attention to how many people it takes to do the ministry and mission of the church.

You could even start to try and quantify it and share that data with the congregation as a celebration of how much the members are doing. Or you could share stories of the big and little ways that volunteers are making the church work. You could even put the data in your narrative budget as a way of acknowledging it as part of your budgeting process. You may want to try adding space on your annual pledge/estimate of giving card for people to write down the ways they will share their time and talents with the church in addition to their tithes. Find ways to highlight, celebrate, and express gratitude for the generosity of your people who are giving of their time and talents.

I volunteer at my church not because I work for the denomination or because I am married to the pastor. I volunteer for the same reason that I tithe financially to the church; all that I have (my time and my talents and my treasure) is not mine, but it is entrusted to me by God. God has entrusted us to be good stewards and giving of my time, my talents, and my treasure is one of the ways that I give thanks to God. Why do you give of your time and talents?

Robert Hay, Jr. serves as the Senior Ministry Relations Officer for the Southeast. He works with congregations to create a culture of generosity, offers seminars and workshops, develops gifts and fundraising plans for ministries, and provides coaching and consulting to pastors, committees, sessions, and lay leaders. You can reach Robert at Robert.hay@presbyterianfoundation.org.