September 7, 2018

Stewardship, Discipleship

We all know it’s coming. Letters are being written, folks are being asked to share their stories from the lectern, pledge cards are being designed. The annual giving campaign will soon be underway.

Unless it got started months ago. More and more, congregations are recognizing stewardship as an ongoing ministry. Activities occur throughout the year, such as celebrations of gratitude, education about different ways to give, and stories about the impact of gifts. Their communications shine a light on discipleship, not just the obligation of “membership.”

In his book Ask, Thank, Tell, Lutheran pastor Charles R. Lane suggests that the goal of stewardship ministry should not be simply to fund next year’s budget, but rather: “The goal of stewardship ministry is to help God’s people grow in their relationship with Jesus through the use of the time, talents, and finances God has entrusted to them.”

Project Resource, a collaborative spark igniting new thinking about stewardship within the Episcopal Church, envisions the powerful impact of such discipleship:

Giving of oneself financially unlocks a part of our hearts where God can do incredible work, both in us and through us. As part of our baptismal covenant, we believe we are called to reconcile ourselves to one another and to God. Fundraising is not a means to an end. Rather, fundraising as ministry is a radical act of reconciliation; a process that can both draw the giver closer to God and repair an unjust world. Project Resource provides the tools to inspire radical generosity and engage faith communities in this life-changing work.

All of this is not to suggest radical changes to whatever you have planned for this fall’s annual giving campaign. It is offered to plant a seed for the future, with stewardship as a ministry that helps people grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

There are so, so many resources available that offer new ideas and energy! Check out Project Resource’s resources for annual giving. Review the bountiful number of stewardship articles at Vital Practices. Suggest that your Vestry prayerfully reflect on the future of stewardship ministry in your congregation.