This month in Stewardship: October
September 17, 2019 by Robyn Davis Sekula
Throughout the Bible, stories illustrate important points and help us understand the ways in which God is calling us to serve the world.
This is how you, too, can help your congregation understand and embrace your whole church, including every program, every use of the property, every child nurtured in its nursery and every person who is helped through a food pantry or clothing distribution ministry.
Stories should be a key part of your stewardship season plan.
Who is going to tell those stories? I encourage you to think about everything that goes on in your church walls – and those ways that your church reaches out into your community. It may help to grab a master calendar for the church, perhaps from your newsletter or a month’s worth of bulletins, and take a good look at what’s on it as a reminder of all of the ways your church serves. You may find some surprises there – and things that bring fresh inspiration for storytelling during stewardship programs.
Conversations across groups
Remember, too, that not everyone knows about everything that happens in your church. Youth parents – and I’m one of those – tend to know lots about what’s going on with the youth, but I can’t tell you much about the preschool. The choir folks know the music ministry well, but do they know about your active, involved older adults’ ministry?
I took a close read at my church’s Sunday bulletin and learned a few things myself. We host a grief group, which I didn’t realize, and I was reminded of a group we called OWLS – Older, Wiser, Learning Still, which is a ministry to the older adults in our church. Women of the World – a group concerned with ministry in our community and the larger world – meets regularly, too.
Also think about the ways in which your church property is used during the week that may or may not involve your church members.
My church was once home to the largest AA meeting in our city (the group has since moved). I’ve seen this on a lot of other church calendars, too. But I had no idea about that until I became stewardship chair and began looking at a full calendar for all our church events. Is that something to talk about during stewardship? Absolutely. Your church may be a beacon of hope to those in recovery, or fulfill some other need for public space. Any way in which your church building is used is a ministry to your own membership or to the community at large. In some places, yours might be the only public space available for meetings, and it can be incredibly valuable.
For storytelling purposes, don’t just tap the members of your own stewardship committee, or those who serve on session. Find people who really love your church and are willing to say why from the pulpit.
Who can share stories
Using the illustrations above, think about these groups of members:
- A member of the choir who can share why the music ministry is so meaningful to them.
- A youth member who has benefitted from attending camps, retreats and confirmation classes.
- Someone who has received pastoral care or volunteer visits following surgery or another difficult time, and deeply appreciated the gifts of fellowship and food that comforted them.
- A senior who has been a lifelong member of the church. Ask them to tell about a particularly meaningful moment in their history with the church.
- A family with children in your church’s preschool, children’s choir, Sunday School or other similar activities.
- The leader of your church’s mission committee, who can tell the story of how the church’s support of mission and ministry in the world matters.
You do want your storytellers to share from the pulpit. You can choose to do so as a minute for mission at the beginning of the service or as a pre-offertory message that reminds people of why they are generously supporting the church: because it impacts the world and the lives of those in their congregation.
One more note, too. If your church supports Special Offerings, Presbyterian World Mission, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance or other PC(USA) causes, lift those up! Talk about how your church’s generosity supports causes all across the globe. It’s a big beautiful world, and there are many programs and ministry operated by our denomination that can be part of your church’s ministry.
What inspires you about your church? I’d love to know. You can reach me here at the Presbyterian Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 569-5101.
Robyn Davis Sekula is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Presbyterian Foundation.