Regardless of religious affiliation, there are things that are being learned about congregational stewardship that can be of great help to us—particularly in managing the realities of today’s economy. There is much wisdom to be gleaned from current research about congregational giving, fundraising, and stewardship.
- Stewardship is a ministry. It is much broader in scope than fundraising, and requires a highly relational and pastoral approach.
- All of the resources of the congregation or faith community are involved in the broadest scope of stewardship: money, property, people, time, and energy.
- Hospitality, careful tending and management of resources, and a clear vision and mission are key aspects of stewardship in the congregation.
- Giving and generosity are matters of the spirit and are at the heart of stewardship.
- Giving is a spiritual discipline at its core, a practice that reflects one’s faith as well as spiritual depth and maturity.
- Becoming a generous person involves a lifelong, developmental process which begins in infancy with receiving love. Generosity evolves with mutually-reinforcing experiences of giving and receiving.
- There is a direct relationship between one’s deepest held values and the motivation to give. We contribute our time and resources to those things that matter most in our lives, as reflected in our bank statements and budgets.
- Our religious leaders—particularly ministers and religious educators—must take an active role in modeling and teaching good stewardship in order for the concepts and principles to take root in their congregations.
- Regardless of the economic context, congregations with the highest household giving levels focus on an inspiring mission and vision, engage in a visible, year-round stewardship program, and ask for levels of financial support that are proportionately appropriate for each individual or family.
- Generous congregations provide a safe environment in which to talk about money and its role in peoples’ lives. They offer training and support in personal financial planning and giving choices so that generosity can be practiced.
- Generous behavior in faith communities is often expected but cannot be taken for granted. It is important to express appreciation and gratitude for all that people contribute and for all gifts received.
For more resources to promote generosity among individuals and households in your Unitarian Universalist congregation:
Ecumenical Stewardship Center, with links to a number of denominational stewardship websites: http://www.stewardshipresources.org/
Lake Institute for Faith and Giving: http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/Lakefamilyinstitute/
Alban Institute: http://www.alban.org