This month in stewardship: June

May 14, 2019 by Robyn Davis Sekula

Who should serve on your church’s stewardship – or generosity – team?

June is a good time to contemplate who would be a great stewardship team member and inviting them to join. If you are the chair of this committee, I would suggest a sit-down meeting with your pastor to discuss who your pastor believes would be a good fit, and who has good follow-through with volunteer work. If you’ve got someone ideal in mind, put out those invitations soon, especially if you have a fall stewardship drive, so that you can begin meeting during the summer and making plans.

Robyn Davis Sekula, Vice President of Communications and Marketing

In many churches, the stewardship team members are largely the financially minded folks. This can be a good starting point – but I’d encourage you to think much broader and deeper about who should be on this team. Stewardship is about fully participating in the life of the church and responding to God’s call to be generous, not about crunching numbers.

Many volunteers needed

After all, there are many ways to participate, and lots of tasks to be done. When considering who to invite to participate in your stewardship team, think through what the tasks are that need to be completed each year that can be done largely by volunteers. The more volunteers, the lighter the load.

Here’s a partial list of tasks where members may show leadership, along with a suggested background for each task. Keep in mind they don’t all have to formally serve on your committee to help, especially folks who are writing thank you notes, or taking photos. These are one-time jobs that could be done without being fully integrated into the team. This list is just designed to help you think bigger.

One tool you need to know is Stewardship Navigator, a service available to you at no charge. It will guide you through many of the tasks that stewardship committees must tackle. This tool debuted in March, and you can find it here.

The tasks at hand:

  • Assessing budgetary needs and setting a stewardship goal (finance)
  • Selecting an appropriate scripture and theme for a stewardship season (theology)
  • Finding ways to tell the story of the church to compel support (communications)
  • Organizing an activity for children that teaches stewardship in small ways (education)
  • Teaching a class to youth during confirmation on the importance of generosity (youth leader)
  • Preparing a PowerPoint to show during a congregational meeting that shows all of the ways the church is connected to the community and the world (graphic design or IT)
  • Taking photos that can be used in materials for stewardship, including the newsletter, web site and social media (photography)
  • Creating a great social media campaign that invites all generations to participate (social media)
  • Making calls to those who have not pledged yet (extrovert who likes to talk)
  • Writing personal thank you notes to those who have participated in stewardship (a gracious host or hostess)

Invitations to different areas of the church

Another way to look at who should serve is to think about where people are positioned in your church. Especially if your church is larger, it’s likely that people circulate in particular groups. Parents of children in your church’s nursery school may know each other, just as parents of youth do, too. Your choir members probably know each other well, as do the members of your Session, or those who participate in a group for senior citizens.

One of the most compelling Minutes for Mission at my own congregation was given by a youth who came to the front of the church with several dozen pledge cards in hand, completed by youth. While he was not an official member of our stewardship committee, he did an excellent job of serving as an ambassador to the youth in the church.

Also think about asking people of different generations to offer a Minute for Mission. The youth I mentioned did a wonderful job. An older member who has spent time hospitalized and has since recovered may embrace the opportunity to tell how the church had supported them following their illness. Those messages resonate with different populations in the church.

Getting commitments to serve

An ongoing issue I ran across as stewardship chair at my own church was getting people to agree to serve. First, there is a reluctance to participate, just because it is stewardship. In the minds of some, it has a negative perception. My counter was to ask why they didn’t want to serve, and often, it was because they didn’t want to do a particular task. I would work through with them what they enjoyed doing, and often, I found a match between one of our tasks and their talents. This also relieved them of a task they hated (such as writing thank you notes).

My promise to my committee members was that I would work alongside them throughout, and I would always be there to help them if they needed it. I also promised lunchtime meetings confined to one hour, and we met once a month. This was easier for working people to make, and the only kind of meeting I could do as a parent of three young daughters. That, of course, doesn’t work for everyone. But it’s part of the equation of finding willing volunteers.

I would love to hear from you if you’re serving on a stewardship or generosity team at a Presbyterian church. Who is on your team? Is it hard to get people to serve? What are your struggles? The more we hear from the people we serve, the better we can help the PC(USA). You can reach me at (502) 569-5101 or robyn.sekula@presbyterianfoundation.org.

Robyn Davis Sekula is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Presbyterian Foundation. She is a ruling elder in the PC(USA) and member of Highland Presbyterian Church.