We love it when pastors reach out to us with questions. For one thing, your question is typically the question other pastors have. So, when Jeff Anderson, the Sr. Pastor of Calvary Hannibal, wrote us, we asked if we could use his question for this post. Jeff gladly agreed. Here is the question:
I have a favor to ask of you. I hope you will give me some ideas. Here is the question:
If you were a member of the Stewardship Committee at your church, and a big part of your task as a committee was to try to develop overall stewardship in your church, what would be your best 2 or 3 suggestions to develop giving to the Annual General Budget?”
Thanks for any suggestions you would make.
That is a great question, and in this post, we will give you what we feel are the best practices for a Stewardship Committee. Let’s start by defining what we see as the difference between a Finance Committee and a Stewardship Committee. While titles and tasks might typically blur, we find that Finance Teams oversee setting and maintaining the budget. They provide accountability and oversight of how the finances are handled. A Stewardship Committee should be tasked with increasing stewardship awareness. Their role is educational rather than one of oversight. Often this task is combined, but we find most churches’ Finance/Stewardship Committee does little to advance a stewardship climate. In our experience, few see their role as going beyond setting the budget. So, we think Jeff’s question is not only timely but a better way to think of stewardship.
Our recommendation to churches is to set up a Stewardship Committee separate from the Finance Committee of a church. Finance teams typically only meet to set up the next year’s budget. A Stewardship Committee assures that a culture of stewardship and generosity permeates the church throughout the year. This ongoing task requires a different type of volunteer than most churches use for their Finance Team. We recommend that you have members from all backgrounds but also with abilities that will help and enhance building a stewardship platform. This might include people familiar with social media, web creation, marketing, etc. So, Jeff, while it wasn’t part of your question, our first advice is to set up a Stewardship Committee to help develop giving.
That leads us back to Jeff’s question, “what would be your best 2 or 3 suggestions to develop giving to the Annual General Budget?” Based on our experience, the best and easiest way to develop giving is by,
Elevating the Offering – In one to two minutes or less, set up each offering time as a time not only for worship but discipling the congregation on the biblical teaching of stewardship. Every Sunday, you have a captured audience, thus making the offering time your best opportunity to teach stewardship. We recommend using the offering time to:
- Inform your donors of what you are doing in missions and ministry.
- Inspire them by what you do so that you can see the difference a gift to your church makes.
- Encourage them to give to help make a difference.
- Teach them what the Bible says about stewardship and generosity.
- And, most importantly, you want to thank them for their generosity.
Planning out and executing a compelling, meaningful, and worshipful offering moment will require the Stewardship Committee to meet regularly, working with the pastor and staff. There are scores of resources to help. Each Stewardship Journal contains articles on giving and a Mission and Ministry Moment written to give you ideas on improving that week’s offering time. We archive all copies here at https://mobaptist.org/stewardship/stewardship-journal/.
Another great source is the Cooperative Program resource page on our MBC website. Here you will find multiple resources from print to video. These tools will help keep your offering time fresh and interesting to attendees. These tools are a great positive way to teach stewardship in two minutes or less. To access the site, go to: https://mobaptist.org/cp/. These two resources will give your Stewardship Committee ample material for the task they have been given.
The above strategy helps keep current, giving strong week to week. However, one of our biggest challenges is assuring the future sustainability of our churches. To meet this challenge, the second task we would recommend a Stewardship Committee be involved in is…
Endowing the future. Amazingly, less than 10% of churches in America have any estate planning. Unsurprisingly, churches get less than 10% of bequests annually in America. You might think that only rich people have an estate, but you would be wrong. Every person has an estate. Every person in your church can and should leave something behind to their church. A properly set up endowment can help you fund your future and should be a primary focus of any Stewardship Committee.
Once again, there is help on how to set this up and materials to help you educate your membership. The Missouri Baptist Foundation can help and has materials you can download and use at their website, https://mbfn.org. Working on endowing the future is like playing long ball. The benefits are not immediate, but that five or six-figure bequest from a departed Saint can help fuel many future missions and ministry work.
Let us close by saying that the church that survives into the future is the church that prepares for the future today. One of the best ways is to setup and empower a Stewardship Committee at your church. We are here to help!