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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
Managing what we already have: being good
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.
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.
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
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
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.