October 7, 2019

Pleasant and Effective Stewardship

Pleasant and effective. That is the positive description of the ongoing Stewardship Ministry of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan.

I wrote about St. John’s personal approach to stewardship in 2018. It started with writing different letters to people of different generations (Why Do You Give to the Church?).

St. John’s Stewardship Chair John Harberts said the experience of communicating differently with different people made their whole task more personal. They took it a big step further, with Stewardship team members committing to stay in touch with a number of parishioners throughout the entire year. (For more details, click here).

I contacted John Harberts to see if the approach is still being used. Yes, it is. Here are some highlights.

Stewardship team members’ personal interactions with those on their list include a friendly personal note in the spring, asking how folks are doing, is there anything they need, etc.

“We enjoy doing that. We never mention money. The Stewardship group loves this part of their work,” Harberts explains.

This August, stewardship packets from St. John’s again included an overview letter worded to resonate with the generation of the household receiving it.

“Each Stewardship person also included a personal handwritten card to each person on their list. All this goes in the pledge packet with the pledge card and our Stewardship booklet ‘Forward in Mission,’ Harberts explains.

The approach means people have a name and face to the pledge drive instead of just "the church" or "system." Several friendships have deepened through the personal approach.

“We believe it has made a difference,” John Harberts says, noting that giving has increased about 25% over the last five years. And, “It certainly makes it more enjoyable for the Stewardship team. I don't think I could get the Stewardship group to go back to the old way if I wanted to.”

Stewardship is a ministry, and ministry is personal. The approach of St. John’s Grand Haven demonstrates that in a beautiful, creative way.