Seminary Seniors will be graduating this month with the anticipation of their First Call. We have asked several experienced Pastors, who have been excellent stewardship leaders, to share their counsel on what they believe are some things to be thinking about as a First Call Pastor engages in stewardship ministry.
Glenn Taibl, Co-Director
Center for Stewardship Leaders
Good Counsel for First Call Pastors
In this article, I seek to persuade first call pastors to consider what I think will help them be effective stewardship leaders.
1. Be grounded in the biblical and theological witness that all belongs to God. Define stewardship as much more than the church asking for money but the call for all of us in whatever situation we are in to faithfully steward what God has entrusted to us. My favorite verse is, “By the power of God at work in us we are able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20.
2. Through intentional conversations with people in congregation and community, seek to discover how God working through your congregation has made a difference. Do not focus on activities but what have the activities accomplished. Help them remember times in the past where the church was present when they needed it. Look beyond local and claim what has been accomplished by linking arms with other congregations in the community and in your judicatory.
3. Remember what you appreciate appreciates. Connect the outcomes that you have seen and heard with the offerings that are given. While others in the congregation may talk about the money needed to make the budget and keep the doors open, reframe the conversation to help people connect money in the offering that energizes the people to be God’s hands, voice and feet in the world. Appreciate it and help others see it.
4. Repeat the above 1, 2 & 3 throughout the year. Make stewardship a year round theme. One congregation I know had 52 weeks of gratitude. A pastor in Texas, now retired, would give a shout out each week by saying, NOW LOOK WHAT YOU DONE. He then would share a brief story that illustrated how their giving made a significant difference to the lives of people in the congregation locally and beyond.
5. Lead the congregation by inviting them to join you in being a transparent generous giver for the work of God that flows through your congregation.
I received a significant stewardship lesson after beginning work in my first call to a mission congregation in Kentucky on July 1. In mid-August, Bert Steffen, a Sergeant in the Army and the stewardship chair, came to visit Joan and me. He said, “I have two questions for you. The first, what do you propose we should do during our fall stewardship emphasis? The second, what are you personally planning to give?” I didn’t have an answer for either question.
His question about what we were going to give particularly jolted me. My annual salary was $4380. We had one child and expected to have another one. I had not learned anything about stewardship in seminary. It didn’t make any sense for us to be pledging and giving to a congregation in order to help pay my meager salary. That was the congregation’s responsibility.
However, Bert’s question motivated us. Eventually, one step at a time, we became tithers plus. Along the way, we became quite conscious of what we did with all the money God entrusted us. As a result, I could with integrity and freedom invite the congregation to join us in generous giving.
I invite you to be transparent about your decisions to give. If you have an education debt and other financial challenges, let them know. Tell them what you would like your giving to be and what steps you are taking to realize this aspiration.
6. Frequently individually and corporately thank individual people for what they give. Do it often! Do it creatively! Write a note! Speak a word! Do not be timid!
May God be with you as you grow to realize the impact you have on the lives of others by your invitation to invite them to join you in stewarding what God has entrusted to you.
Pastor Jerry Hoffman served as the first Director for the Center for Stewardship leaders. He has also been a Macedonian Coach and continues to bring leadership and counsel to congregations in planning stewardship ministry.
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