We found a variety of messages about “Giving” and Stewardship on congregational websites. One of our presenters for the Center’s stewardship course, Money and the Mission of the Church, shared a great suggestion for a congregation’s website. These are some core values you may wish to include.
Glenn Taibl, Co-Director
Center for Stewardship Leaders
Post Core Stewardship Values on Website
At a former church I served in suburban Minneapolis, our stewardship ministry team spent several meetings debating what core values should be articulated so that people both within the congregation and visitors could better understand what our foundational principles about giving and generosity were. It was a collective and lively effort to produce and keep alive a “here we stand” posture with the hope that it would shape and inform the day-to-day practices of both leaders and rank and file members of the church. After careful deliberation we finalized them, made them available to the congregation at large and posted them on our website.
Here’s what the list looked like:
- We value that we are all called to be stewards of the gifts that God the great giver has entrusted to us.
- We value that our giving, in response to God’s abundant generosity, does not change God’s behavior toward us, but it does change our behavior toward God and our fellow humans.
- We value that it is biblical and practical to return “the first and the best” of our talents and resources they produce, also known as “first fruit” giving.
- We value that the acts of stewardship are part of us at every age and condition of life, every day of the year, in our consumption, and in the giving of money, time, and talents.
- We value that being generous in one aspect of stewardship does not exclude the steward from being generous in other aspects of stewardship.
- We value that the discipline of giving is guided by the concept of contributing a proportion of income, especially the tithe, and giving beyond the tithe.
- We value that growth in giving, by definition, implies a greater proportionate giving today than yesterday.
- We value that while faithful stewardship reflects a process of investing in one’s faith, it is done without an expectation of special reward or blessing.
Looking back, the process of articulating these core values helped energize congregational members in important ways. For instance, several people asked where this notion of “first fruit” giving came from, and we spent time studying the dozens of Biblical references where it surfaces. For some, first fruit giving was already in place: several parishioners shared confidentially that the first check of the month was invariably written to the church; for others who contribute electronically through the auto pay function of their bank or, say, Thrivent Financials Simply Giving option, a similar commitment to the first day of the month (or week) was shared.
Similarly, some members thought that the emphasis on contributing a proportion of their income was both daunting and at the same time worth the risk. The transition from occasional and modest giving to a new commitment to regular, intentional, and increased giving was understood by many to be good for both for the giver and good for the ministry of the church. Not coincidentally, engaging the congregation in both the formation of the core values and discussing them together led to a substantial increase in both pledged and online giving.
In the introduction to the core values, we clearly spelled out that “like all matters of faith, growing in stewardship is a life-long process.” Congregations that take a values-based approach to articulating where they stand on fundamental stewardship principles and then publish them online help themselves gain better clarity about what they want the world to know about them. That said, stewardship education is best understood as a marathon that truly never ends.
Pastor Bob Wertz is Pastor for Stewardship and Planned Giving at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis. He has also been a presenter for the Money and Mission of the Church class at Luther Seminary.
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