STEWARDSHIP RENEWAL: SOME POINTERS . . .

1. Stress the spiritual dimension of stewardship

Teach stewardship as an holistic model of our relationship with God, as the tangible expression of our trust in God. Giving is a spiritual matter as central to faithful living as prayer, Bible study, and worship.

Reinforce giving as an act of worship. Use the offering time to lift up the spiritual significance of giving. Take an offering at every service.

Set a good example. The pastor should tithe and encourage other ministers, staff, and leaders to do the same. All leaders must take their giving seriously and model generosity.

Talk openly about money and faithfulness to God. If leaders are uncomfortable about money then members will be also. Know your story of giving and be willing to testify about it.

Model the giving spirit you seek from members in your church budget by giving generously to ministries beyond the congregation.

Teach the theology of stewardship through a variety of means -- church school classes, other study venues, sermons, and correspondence. Use stewardship scripture, quotations, and stories in bulletins, newsletters, other printed materials, and the website.

2. Know what motivates giving

Know that people give to many things for a variety of reasons. Few have a well-planned or consistent giving strategy. Some give on impulse. Others are more cautious. Different kinds of appeals are effective with different types of givers.

Recognise that people want to make a difference. They will give to what they value.

Appreciate that faithful giving is a fruit of spiritual maturity. It takes time and much nurture to develop.

Do not engage in fundraising. People give to God, not to raise the preacher’s salary or pay the utilities. Don’t make church gifts “one more bill to pay” – a bill that can be skipped without late fees, penalties, or the need to catch-up. Emphasise giving as a joyful response to God’s generosity, not an obligation.

Talk to members about stewardship and opportunities for giving. Most people never increase their giving because they were never asked, nor given compelling reasons to do so. Don’t be afraid to lift up the needs of the church, but always in a way that emphasises mission.

Nurture relationships. People give to persons and organisations where they feel a connection. Church leaders should listen carefully for clues about issues of importance to church members. Personal solicitation is critical, especially for larger gifts

3. Link stewardship to mission and ministry

Remember that people – especially younger generations -- give to support mission, not institutions or budgets. Everything you communicate about giving should stress ministry, not maintenance.

Congregational vitality is key to giving. Whatever increases member involvement and participation will help giving. Involve as many as possible in the church’s ministries.

Share information freely about the wonderful things giving makes possible. Use announcements to remind people of the impact they are having. Bulletin boards featuring how the church is in mission are good reminders to a congregation. Websites offer ways to tell the church’s story and to interpret stewardship and giving.

4. Know your givers and congregational giving patterns

Do not make assumptions about what people give -- most of the time you will be wrong.

Give your pastor access to members’ giving records as a matter of pastoral care, not power or privilege.

Keep alert for any changes in giving patterns – if giving stops without explanation, if an adult child starts writing cheques for their parents, if there is confusion about giving, if designated gifts replace general giving, etc. Notify the pastor of any potential pastoral care concerns.

Know your people and approach them where they are. Someone who has never given does not respond in the same manner as someone who gives faithfully, proportionately, and generously.

Understand the financial profiles in your community. If few people carry cash, a spur of the moment offering will not succeed. Remember that more women than men carry a chequebook and younger generations are more inclined to pay by electronic or other non-cash means. A 25 year-old is unlikely to make a stock gift, while an older member on a fixed income may prefer an estate gift to one that reduces their monthly income.

Monitor giving indicators throughout the year. Compare pledge payments with those of previous years.

Know how actual income compares to budgeted income for a given time of year. Avoid reporting what is “needed to date” by dividing the total budget into equal monthly or weekly segments. No congregation receives its income so evenly. Instead, determine how much income is “needed to date” based on a rolling three-year average of what percent of total giving is normally received during that period.

5. Provide a variety of ways to give

23. Give people multiple opportunities to give. Those new to the church may be unfamiliar with the concept of pledging and tithing. Other ways of giving can get them in the habit:

Consider sending some appropriate communication a few times a year to those who do not pledge and to non-resident members.

Remember that people can give from their income, from their assets, or through legacies or bequests. Create giving opportunities appropriate to each type of gift.

Don’t wait decades between capital campaigns. More frequent capital drives create a culture of supporting the church’s capital needs and prevent neglect of property concerns.

Create a foundation or permanent fund, even if you have not yet received any bequests. People cannot give to what does not exist. Formulate policies for wills, legacies, and bequests. A large estate gift can be divisive if proper procedures are not in place.

6. Assist members in the stewardship of their personal resources

Remember that personal finances and spending decisions are as much a part of Christian stewardship as giving to the church. Too often churches ask people to consider the church’s financial situation, but seldom offer to help with members’ financial situations.

Teach members to think about their finances as an expression of faith. Use appropriate study resources to foster a theology of personal stewardship. Reinforce tithing and “first-fruits” giving as a faithful way of prioritising one’s personal finances – not a way to pay church bills.

Offer workshops on budgeting, financial management, and estate planning.

Encourage sessions in which members can come together to discuss personal financial challenges. For example, parents of students preparing for college could discuss educational funding options. Those responsible for aging parents could come together to talk with other members who have learned of resources to help.

Minister to the economic concerns of parishioners. Provide pastoral assistance and support groups for the unemployed, those in career transition, and those facing financial difficulty. Develop a year- round, comprehensive stewardship programme.

Preach stewardship sermons throughout the year, not just in the weeks before asking for an estimate of annual giving.

Know that developing a congregation of faithful givers does not happen during a three to four-week stewardship drive. People do not become faithful stewards in one moment or through one influence.

Create an annual stewardship calendar, emphasising different stewardship concerns at different times of year – such as annual commitment in the autumn, second-mile giving at year-end, planned giving at All Saint’s Day, etc. Develop stewardship themes that fit with different church events and liturgical seasons

Encourage faithful giving over the summer by preaching on stewardship the last Sunday before the end of the school term. Everyone knows the churches bills do not go on holiday, so stop reminding your members of that.

Make giving and stewardship education a part of your ministry with children and youth.

Take the time to do everything related to stewardship well. Poor planning results in poor giving. Inspire generosity through sound management

Know that people give to healthy organisations where they know their money is used wisely.

Exhibit honesty and openness in financial interactions.

Seek a good working relationship based on trust between the pastor, treasurer, and financial secretary.

Make sure at least two unrelated people count the offering each week.

Make sure all funds are administered properly. Keep precise records of income and disbursements. Keep your giving records secure.

Keep the congregation informed of financial matters in meaningful ways. Issue timely financial reports and make them available to any member who requests them. Report financial concerns in a consistent manner.

Send out pledge reports/giving statements in a timely fashion, always with a thank you and a reminder about any update that may be needed.

Arrange for an independent audit or review of funds annually. Put a brief announcement in the Sunday bulletin a few times stating the completed audit has been reviewed by the finance committee and is available to members wishing to review it.

6. Say thanks often

Find multiple occasions and ways to say “thank you” to those who make the church’s ministry possible - from the pulpit, in person, in the newsletter, and on their giving statements.

Conduct an annual “thank-a-thon” not associated with a fund drive.

Tell stories of how lives are changed because of their giving. People need to know their giving makes a difference.

As a sign of appreciation, make sure all your procedures for giving are as convenient as possible. Avoid procedures and policies that are for the convenience of those who handle the funds rather than those who give the funds.

Promoting Financial Giving ___________

For all of us life seems to move on increasingly quickly. This year, it will be more important than ever to make sure that we continue to practise good stewardship in our parishes. Some will, of course, be anxious about how the year will progress and what effect the economic climate might have on them. Nonetheless, stewardship matters need to continue to be at the forefront of our thinking.

We have many regular and committed givers in our congregations. We need to thank them for this and encourage them to continue. You will know your parish best and approaches to financial giving will differ but, as a general rule, we just need to keeping on doing what we are doing now.

Encouraging regular giving

There are four areas of stewardship „good practice‟ which make the biggest difference to giving in our churches.

1. Preach and teach holistically on money and stewardship

Jesus taught frequently on the use of money and possessions and we should be brave enough to do the same!
Try to:

 preach on giving and Christian life at least twice a year

 include stewardship matters in home group material

 make the most of links with the Lectionary as appropriate.

2. Link giving to the provision of ministry and mission

Make sure your congregation knows where your money is going and why it matters. Tell them about the difference their gifts make to the work of your church, both locally and in the wider world.

3. Hold an annual review

A simple giving programme at the same time each year will encourage people to review their giving.

4. Say “thank you”

Acknowledge giving to your church both privately and publicly. The minimum that a regular giver receives should be an annual personal letter.

But remember

Not all givers are at the same stage of Christian discipleship

and financial commitment so tailor your message to specific group such as “key leaders”, “non Gift Aiders” or “occasional attendees”.

Managing what we already have: being good stewards__

 Get the PCC to review the budget every quarter and take any necessary action

 Market your church‟s baptism, funeral and wedding services more actively but make sure you are charging realistic fees based on actual costs e.g. heating, choir.

 Take every opportunity to collect Gift Aid, especially for one off gifts.

 Chase those people you think could Gift Aid their gifts and encourage them to join the scheme.

 Keep spending on regular building maintenance — it will be cheaper in the long run.

 Carry out an environmental audit of your church.

Communication

It‟s always important to help your congregation understand what is happening with your church‟s finances.

 Produce simple quarterly statements of your church's

financial position and make sure they are well publicised.

 Regularly report back on the progress and impact of the different ministry activities. Emphasise the benefits and impact of your mission activities.

 Provide tax-year Gift Aid statements to givers. This will help to remind higher rate tax payers to claim personal tax refunds on their self assessment forms. Encourage them to donate it back.

Fundraising

You may find that fundraising is harder hit than regular giving. Fundraising events may result in less net income so think about running fewer events, but making them even better.

There is evidence that a gloomy message about recession can result in lower levels of giving. We do need to encourage our congregations while, of course, taking account of the economic climate and how this effects people.

Developing Regular Giving _______________________

Regular givers are the financial lifeblood of a parish. It’s a healthy rule of thumb that your income from regular givers (Gift Aiders, envelope and standing order users) should more or less pay your Parish Share. Then your fundraising, fees, other income and donations can pay for the other bills and mission activities.

We can learn much from secular charities. Regular givers need to be:-

 Recruited (whether as first-time givers or ‘upgraders’ from irregular or one-off gifts)

 Educated (about the practical and spiritual dimensions to their giving)

 Kept informed (about what the church is doing with their money)

 Thanked (regularly. We’re often not very good at this.)

Church members may be at different stages of their faith journey, and their giving journey. You hope that their wallets will be converted, as well as their hearts. You also, perhaps, hope to convert existing givers to more consistent ways of giving:-

 From cash to envelopes . . .

 From envelopes to Standing Orders . . .

 From irregular to regular . . .

 From a £2 coin to a £5note...

Helping people to think about their giving is a sensitive task. Not everyone is receptive to this particular Gospel challenge first time.

Each parish will want to use what is best for their situation. A combination of the following elements has been proved time and time again to make a difference. Do not think that one element only will do the trick!

A letter to everyone
  •  It must have a response form
  •  It should be individually addressed
  •  Different people should get different targeted versions of the letter (existing

    givers, electoral roll members, infrequent givers, new members, etc)
  •  The content must strike the right note – not be full of panic and woe!

    A Sunday sermon about wealth, giving, generosity and sacrifice
  •  should be preached at all services on the day to make sure everyone hears it
  •  must be followed up – best to tie it in with a letter
  •  take-home sermon notes may help people to think through what has been said
  •  is best done as part of a short sermon series about gratitude, stewardship and

    wealth.
A visit to collect the response and, if necessary, discuss the letter
  •  you will need discreet and trusted visitors
  •  a ‘pass-it-on’ pack can help get round to everybody without needing lots of

    visitors.

    Housegroups or other Bible study group
  •  can really get to the heart of the matter
  •  it may be difficult for people to speak personally about their income, response,

    etc in a group.

    A special event – a ‘focus on giving’ evening or an old-fashioned ‘stewardship supper
  •  brings people together with a common mind, encourages the ‘laggards’
  •  takes organisational skill and catering effort.

    Some points to bear in mind:
  •  Other gifts (of time or skills) may be offered to the church through this process. Are you ready to accept them?
  •  Letters and visiting may reveal pastoral needs in the parish. How will they be ‘handled with care’?
  •  Gift Aid must be at the heart of the project. It is a simple and very effective way of increasing your parish income at no cost to the giver.

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