This month in Stewardship: June

May 24, 2018 by Robyn Davis Sekula

For churches with a fall stewardship emphasis, June is time for your Stewardship Team to begin meeting again (if you haven’t started already). This month, you’ll want to outline plans for your stewardship campaign. (These suggestions from our May column may be helpful for you, too.)

It’s important to note that a church’s stewardship cycle should be year-round. There are activities to help grow stewardship that can take place every month. We are providing guidelines for you in recognition that many churches plan a fall emphasis – but also noting that autumn isn’t the only time to think about stewardship.

Who’s on your team?

With that in mind, let’s talk about who should serve on the committee. The stewardship team should reach beyond financially minded folks, bringing in members who have skills such as communications and messaging, and people who are well-connected and trusted in your congregation. Part of stewardship is telling the story of the church in ways that compel the congregation to pledge. A person with an ear for great stories can help find those stories, capture them, and tell them from the pulpit, in social media, in newsletters, and in your bulletin.

Set your date for Pledge Sunday and work backward to create your schedule.

Whoever oversees the church budget – whether that’s a volunteer or a staff member – should be at your committee meeting. They can help you assess where to set goals for your pledge drive. You may also want to have someone from the property committee in attendance when you’re determining the pledge goal so that you can accommodate any future needs.

It is critical to have the pastor at your stewardship team meetings. Your pastor needs to speak from the pulpit about stewardship on a regular basis and needs to give input on stewardship goals and theme. Your pastor should provide theological guidance to the team and give input on theme selection. The committee chair should be a lay person, though, and will likely be the person speaking most often to the congregation from the pulpit.

Ministry Relations Officer Olanda Carr gave a presentation on Drafting a Winning Stewardship Team at Stewardship Kaleidoscope last fall. You can watch a video of his presentation here.

At your June meeting, you should review last year’s stewardship efforts. Did you meet your goal? Or fall short? What did you feel great about – and what do you think could use improvement? Then, set your timeline for the campaign. Work backward from pledge Sunday, allowing four to six weeks from the start to pledge Sunday.

Guidance on theme

You may not be fully prepared to select a theme at this meeting, but it is important to begin considering the language you want to use for your stewardship campaign. The PC(USA) and other denominations work together to create stewardship resources that are available for your use, providing a theme for each year. You can find those here: https://stewardshipresources.org/product-category/resources/theme-materials/

We do sometimes hear of churches that ask members to give to “keep the lights on” or similar language. But that’s not a compelling argument. Would you want to give to a nonprofit that asked you to pay the electric bill for them? Probably not. But you’d give to help needy families get food, or you might support educational efforts or arts performances.

A better way to start the conversation is to discuss as a group what your church means to each person in the room. At its heart, what does your church do? How does it help members? How does your church serve its community? Your stewardship campaign should be a celebration of what is wonderful about your church. You want to invite people to join you in supporting an organization that is a key part of the community.

Selecting a Bible verse that can support your theme is a great start. Ahead of your first meeting, ask your pastor to bring suggested verses with them to consider for inspiration.

What does your church typically do in June, July or August that ties with stewardship? Tell us! We may use your story in a future blog post or an e-newsletter. We love to hear from churches, as it helps inform our mission and ministry. You can reach us at serving@presbyterianfoundation.org. Please put stewardship news in the subject line of your email. We look forward to hearing from you!