This month in Stewardship: October

September 18, 2018 by Robyn Davis Sekula

For many congregations, October is when Stewardship takes a more prominent role. Your congregation knows that pledge Sunday is coming. The primary task of stewardship leaders in the congregations, including pastors, is to answer, “Why does giving and generosity to the church matter?” This is a theological question grounded in the ministry and mission of your congregation locally, regionally, and globally.

How can you do this? After clearly communicating your mission and ministry, engagement of pastors in the stewardship process is essential. Strong preaching that addresses giving makes a difference. When preachers are grounded fully aware of what people are giving or not and why, the more effective that preaching will be.

Generosity is a response to God’s grace

It’s a touchy topic, though. Some pastors are adamantly opposed to knowing, and some church sessions don’t want the pastor to know. My own pastor, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Campbell at Highland Presbyterian Church, addressed this during a Stewardship Committee meeting when I was serving as Stewardship Chair. Being new to the role and not theologically educated, I sought her guidance. She explained that stewardship is part of pastoral care, part of knowing how members of her congregation are doing.

I also asked Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty, Senior Director of Theological Education Funds Development at the Presbyterian Foundation, to explain why pastors need to know about pledges. Lee served a pastor, and has served as stewardship leader at a church where he was not pastor.

Lee tells me that giving and generosity is “an indicator of what is happening in a person’s life.” It’s just like attendance and participation – if someone is missing, we’d notice, right? “If somebody is not showing up to use their gifts in the community, we would have a conversation with them,” Lee says.

Stewardship and generosity are key spiritual disciplines. “It’s a critical dimension to their response to God’s grace,” Lee says. “I can’t be their pastor if I don’t know what’s going in their lives.”

More reading

As I was preparing this piece for the blog, I ran across a terrific piece on the Lutheran Seminary’s Center for Stewardship Leadership blog. “How our failure to address the ‘m’ word damages more than budgets” was written by the Rev. Dr. Lisa Cressman, Episcopal priest and author. She writes not only about why pastors should address money issues, but why pastors (and really, all of us) tend to aviod talking about money or consider it impolite.

“Think about how much time, emotional energy and relational labor is spent worrying about money in your average parishner's life. Practically speaking, this taboo around money talk traps people in ignorance, stress and scarcity.”

If you are pastoring a church and aren’t quite sure how to talk about money, we do provide a lectionary preview each month on this blog. You can find the preview for October here, and November here.

Our Ministry Relations Officers are available to assist pastors, stewardship chairs and church leaders with stewardship, capital campaigns or other needs. You can find your Ministry Relations Officer that serves your region at this link. They are available to help you.

Robyn Davis Sekula is a ruling elder in the PC(USA) and active member of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky., where she led stewardship efforts for four years. She serves as a communications consultant to the Presbyterian Foundation.

Previous This Month in Stewardship posts:

May: Quarterly Statements and Minutes for Mission as stewardship updates

June: Creating a Stewardship Team 

July: Narrative budgets

August: Capturing and telling stories of impact

September: Ask church leaders to make the first pledges