The Right Tool for Stewardship

March 22, 2021 by Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard

I enjoy putting things together. I enjoy seeing pieces spread all over the floor, and from the magic of instructions and use of tools, seeing them become the picture on the box. Since we've moved into our home in the St. Louis area, I've assembled a grill (charcoal, of course!), the accompanying table, big screen TV stands, lamps and other furniture. Give me a sheet of instructions and the right tools, and I'm happy to bring the chaos of parts into order. I'm not perfect! Let's not talk about the $49 ceiling fan light kit that ended up costing $250 and a one-hour visit from an electrician! Even though it cost me, I learned, and I have great lighting in my office. Even our failures can become experiments towards success.

We have many tools at the Foundation that are user-friendly. They are designed to help our congregational and denominational leaders confront complex problems with approachable solutions. The Stewardship Navigator is a free and accessible tool for doing all things related to stewardship in your congregation. It takes the work of writing solicitation letters, creating pledge cards, and providing thank-you cards and makes it simple and easy. In the Stewardship Navigator, you can even plan and execute a campaign from A to Z. When it comes to building budgets, creating and understanding line-item budgets, and developing narrative budgets; the Stewardship Navigator is the key to igniting the engine and simplifying this complex process.

Susan Presley is a pastor I received an email from regarding our Church Financial Leadership Coaching program. This is an excellent free program where the Foundation provides financial coaches to pastors and sessions with a 12-month commitment. As we talked about her ministry context, Susan mentioned that she would like to raise money for a beautiful stain glass in the sanctuary that needs repair. She'd already received a substantial gift but didn't know where to go from there. She was concerned that her church doesn't have a history of fundraising and may be resistant to a professional solicitation. I mentioned that she could do a campaign where she invites the church and community to participate in repairing this window which has inspired so many. By pointing her toward the Stewardship Navigator, Susan was relieved of a ton of difficult processes and creative decisions. Within ten days of our conversation, she'd used the campaign builder to create and send over 130 letters to the church. This tool helped Susan move from a fearful and intimidated pastor (when it comes to money) to a development leader of her faith community, guiding the congregation to new ways of being church.

This is what it means to be part of a connectional church. When the PC(USA) can share resources across geographical boundaries, we are being connectional. When the Foundation provides resources for congregations and mid councils–no matter the size, location, or social status–we are being part of God's connectional church. When congregations and leaders use the free tools of the Foundation at their disposal in order to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are being the church that God has called into existence and the church that God sustains.

Stewardship can feel overwhelming. Many eyes have glazed over rows and columns of numbers when budgets are presented. If we're honest, just having to do math turns many people off. There is a way to bring these pieces together into a usable whole. I invite you to follow this link to Stewardship Navigator and enjoy playing around with it. It is free. You can't break anything. And there is so much to learn and use. The Foundation has Ministry Relations Officers available to serve you in your region of the country. Click on the Stewardship Navigator link, sign on (and each of your committee members can have their own account too!), and let the assembling begin!