Stewardship and Abundance
Four Ideas for Stewardship Recruitment
“No one wants to do this.”
That lament prevents many churches from developing a vibrant stewardship ministry. Even before all the questions about what to do, when to start and what to say, the team recruiting issue is often the juggernaut. Here are four ways to recruit volunteers.
1. Help them see it as a ministry
Stop calling it a task. Stewardship is a ministry. It helps people spiritually as it teaches them to contemplate their priorities and their level of trust in God to provide. Fear, self-preservation and comfort are human traits that get in the way of a close relationship with Jesus. No wonder he talked about money and possessions so much. Re-read those scriptures to better understand how the ministry of stewardship can deepen the faith formation of your fellow parishioners.
Stewardship as ministry moves the emphasis away from the dreaded “asking people for money,” to helping people see the gracious hand of God in their life and the life of their faith community. Rejoicing in those blessings, everyone may glorify Christ as grateful stewards of the talents and treasure God has given them. Wow, sign me up for that!
2. Take advantage of outside resources
Use a proven resource to help you plan your annual giving campaign. It is much easier to recruit people if they know they do not have to think up what to do and say. There are many great resources available, including two especially for Episcopal faith communities:
- TENS, The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (www.tens.org) offers members a fresh theme and materials each year for their annual giving campaigns. While your congregation can join TENS, check with your diocese first. Many dioceses purchase a membership that gives all parishes access to the "members only" section of the TENS website. There you will find campaign materials and an abundance of how-to information. This year, TENS campaign materials are offered for both in-church and virtual-church application.
- The Episcopal Church’s United Thank Offering also provides an annual theme and a packet that “contains all you need to lead a stewardship campaign built on the foundation of gratitude”.
3. Have some fun
Proclaim fun in stewardship! Even when using a prescribed methodology, your church can add its own creative, joyful flair. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Warsaw, Indiana, which utilizes TENS materials, wraps up their annual giving campaign with an “Open Mic Night Stewardship Celebration.” Folks put their talents on display, and the rector, like a radio host, reads “commercials” in between acts, as Stewardship Chairperson Brenda Rigdon explains:
Those commercials are thank you messages to all of our various church volunteers who do great things – Sunday School and Bible School Teachers, Altar Guild members, hospitality hosts, etc. Each ministry gets a thank you from the mic. This also helps remind folks what their pledges accomplish over the course of a calendar year.
At the end of the evening, St. Anne’s reminds everyone to turn in their pledge cards at the Ingathering service the following Sunday.
4. Be clear about the help you need
Be specific. It is often easier to recruit a volunteer if you ask him/her to do one specific thing. Here are some examples:
- “Susan, we are going to be using TENS campaign materials this year. Would you help us by making sure the church office has the weekly message provided by TENS to use in our E-newsletter every week?”
- “Mike, I know how involved you are in Sunday School. Would you please ask three families to each record a short video in which their kids talk about what they love about our church? Make sure the families are okay with posting the video on our Facebook page.”
- “Pat, would you please use your artistic talent to design a thank you card to be sent to everyone who makes a pledge during our annual giving campaign?”
Susan, Mike, Pat and others you recruit for specific activities are now part of the Stewardship Ministry. Invite them to attend a few planning meetings to make sure that everyone can contribute to the plan and efforts are coordinated.
Don’t leave out the clergy and keep the momentum going
Include at least one clergy person in your Stewardship Ministry. You may think that goes without saying, but sometimes even the ordained need a nudge. A robust campaign requires coordinated communications and actions. Your priest should be part of the planning, spiritual emphasis and implementation.
Once folks realize they are building faith and having fun, keep the meetings going. Host a post-campaign review to determine what worked well and what lessons were learned. Kick around ideas for next year’s campaign and brainstorm what can be done to keep an attitude of gratitude going in the months ahead. Review the status of your church’s planned giving program or lack thereof. How can the Stewardship Ministry begin/revive/improve planned giving?
Now your recruits are engaged to keep Stewardship Ministry alive all year, not just in the fall. They are having fun, making an impact, and helping their faith community thrive.
Of course people want to do this!
Linda Buskirk is a congregational and not-for-profit consultant specializing in capital campaigns and strategic planning with an appreciative approach. She began her career as a journalist and still enjoys writing, particularly being “on the beat” for Vital Practices, sharing ministry stories from around the Episcopal Church and beyond. Linda began serving Episcopal congregations in 2009 as an Episcopal Church Foundation consultant, and most recently as a partner in Core Capital Campaigns, a collaboration with two other ECF-experienced consultants. She is active in stewardship and other ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana. Linda lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she and husband Ron are members of Trinity Episcopal Church.
- Year Round Stewardship: Talking About Money, an ECF webinar presented by Chris Harris, February 11, 2014
- Spirituality of Fundraising by Anne Ditzler, ECF Vital Practices blog, May 25, 2011
- FRG Resources for Stewardship, an ECF Vital Practices tool
- Planning and Recruiting for Stewardship, an ECF webinar presented by Erin Weber Johnson, May 06, 2015