Stewardship as Ministry

Stewardship does indeed deal with money, but it must be far bigger, far more holistic than that. For money is the symbol, the powerful symbol, of our ongoing need for control. But as we begin to think of life in terms of what we have instead of what we lack, then we can dare to let go of the things that hold us back and strategize together as faithful stewards instead of fearful owners.  

                                                                      ~Rev. C. K. Robertson, Transforming Stewardship

Stewardship is the responsible management of the resources entrusted to one’s care. In the context of a religious community, stewardship is a ministry.  Abundance can be found when all engage as stewards of the faith community and its resources.

This can be accomplished through intentional ministry and religious leadership in the following areas:

Spiritual Development

-Religious leaders must first engage in their own inward spiritual and religious journey.

-Examine their own attitudes toward giving and generosity and the spiritual basis for developing them.

Pastoral Care & Support–

Individuals and families often have complex and stressful dynamics around money and personal finance.

-Each contact that involves the topic of money is potentially pastoral in nature and must be treated with sensitivity.

-Ministers and lay leaders benefit from understanding their own relationships to money when relating with others about theirs.

Worship & Preaching

-These are unique opportunities to convey the importance of stewardship, generosity, and giving through compelling sermons, prayers, inspiring stories, and music.

-Worship leaders can help the engage the congregation by inviting the expression of gratitude, through prayer, the offering, and personal testimony.

Prophetic Leadership

-Sharpening the focus on the positive and worthy aspects of the faith principles and religious values that inspire generosity.

-Revealing and articulating the connections between the congregation’s mission, religious values, and stewardship.

Teaching & Coaching—

-Understand stewardship and generosity as developmental learning processes with learned behaviors.

-Ongoing education and support of the congregation’s staff, lay leaders, and stewardship leaders are necessary.

-Leaders stay abreast of the trends and best practices for stewardship and fundraising in order to create and sustain a culture of generosity in the congregation.

Modeling Generous Behavior

-Model giving as a spiritual practice and lead by example.

-Actively cultivate stewardship through explicit and positive messaging through multiple channels of communication:  worship, in print, online, and interpersonal.

-Explicitly and enthusiastically asking for financial support is essential, and is most effective when done face-to-face.

Before you write an amount, please ask yourself, what is the most generous pledge you believe you can make. Then add something to that. Find out what might happen if you turn out to be even more generous than you think you are.                                                        

~Rich Fritzon, Main Line Unitarian, Devon, PA

NOTE:  The content for this Stewardship as Ministry post is based on the UUA General Assembly 2011 workshop Breaking Through to Generosity created and presented by Rev. Terry Sweetser, Rev. Stephan Papa, and Laurel Amabile of the Stewardship and Development staff group.

Workshop Presentation Slides are found online at: http://www.uua.org/finance/fundraising/ga/185798.shtml

Recommended Reading:

The Abundance of Our Faith: Award-Winning Sermons on Giving, Plus Suggestions for Group Discussion. Terry Sweetser and Susan Milnor, editors.  2006. Skinner House Books.  $16.00

Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship.  J. Clif Christopher. 2008. Abingdon Press.  $14.00  ISBN-13:  978-0-687-64853-5

Giving—the sacred art: Creating a Lifestyle of Generosity.  Lauren Tyler Wright.  2008.  Skylight Paths Publishing.  $16.99.  ISBN: 13-978-1-59473-224-9

UU Study Guide for Giving—the Sacred Art by Laurel Amabile.  Available as free downloadable pdf:  http://www.uua.org/documents/stew-dev/study_guide_giving.pdf

The New Context for Ministry:  The Impact of the New Economy on Your Church.  Lyle E. Schaller.  2002.  Abingdon Press.  ISBN: 0-687-06580-1

Money Matters in Church:  A Practical Guide for Leaders.   Aubrey Malphurs and Steve Stroope.  2007.  Baker Books.  ISBN 10:  0-8010-6627-1

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