What Clergy Need to Know
Stewardship and instruction on church finances have traditionally been part of the job that clergy learn after they leave seminary. In order to meet the needs of clergy, at all times of their career and in a the many types of congregations they may serve, we provide a variety of resources specific to the stewardship needs of clergy.
For up to date resources, please be sure to connect with us on our Stewardship and Development Facebook page where we post ideas, research, and stewardship workshop events on a regular basis.
Stewardship is more than preaching one sermon in the Fall each year. We need to teach parishioners about biblical giving, disciple them so they understand how their gifts are an integral part of their relationship to God, and encourage them to give in ways that are the most meaningful to them.
If you feel unprepared leading stewardship conversations in your church, it’s important to begin this work for yourself. We almost always begin conversations with Henry Nouwen's A Spirituality of Fundraising. The new workbook edition contains the entire text of the book plus commentary on its themes from Nathan Ball. There are questions for reflection and journaling, prompts for listening and meditation, and instructions for using the book as an individual.
Project Resource from the Episcopal Church has a wonderful webpage dedicated to annual giving. This page begins with the steps to a successful plan, includes ideas for sermon examples, and highlights relevant articles from ECF to help you along the way.
Once you’ve looked through Project Resource and you have put in place the basic steps for your annual giving campaign, it’s important to revisit your plans throughout the year. Meet periodically with your stewardship and finance teams to discuss the work. Continue to bring new people onto the stewardship team each year in order to refresh the vision and to provide a break for those who are usually called on to give their time.
Building a Stewardship Team
Congregational stewardship thrives when led by clergy and undertaken by a skilled team. Your team will reflect your congregation’s context and might work closely with your vestry or it might meet seasonally just with you and your treasurer depending on your context. The best stewardship committee for your church is the one that works for you!
There are wonderful resources available from the Episcopal Parish Network and TENS – The Episcopal Network for Stewardship – that will help you train your stewardship committee.
Episcopal Parish Network is the largest group of resourced institutions from across the Episcopal Church. The network’s membership is committed to strengthening leaders for a changing church through connecting, equipping, and diversifying. Their multitude of webinars are available through their website to all who want to view them. You do not have to be a member to participate in the webinars or to attend the conference.
TENS – The Episcopal Network for Stewardship - Includes webinars, resources, and annual pledge materials – including material available with our diocesan membership. Please contact the diocesan office for the most recent password in order to access membership resources.
Next Steps for Growing Your Annual Giving
All years of the diocesan annual giving materials are available for your use as launching and re-launching points. You are always welcome to use these resources in any way you’d like.
In addition, Section II of Fearless Church Fundraising provides downloadable resources for clergy and stewardship leaders to use for growing your annual giving campaign. If you’re looking for a complete project plan, sample letters, or ideas for communication plans this is a wonderful resource.
Membership Growth Campaign
So many people have had their lives disrupted during the pandemic and many are searching for meaning, reassessing their connection to their community, and finding their way back to church. That means that it’s very important to plan for a member growth campaign. This growth campaign’s purpose is to joyfully share your church experience and the love of Jesus with people you know and those in your community who don’t belong to your congregation or who have not been attending regularly. The Come and See Campaign provides a timeline, planning ideas, and resources for you to use.
Whether in the form of Ministry Moments, through your annual giving letters, sermons, book studies, developing your narrative budget, or dozens of other ways throughout the year storytelling is how Jesus modeled his ministry and how we as humans have learned to take in the world around us. As you and your stewardship team think about your ministry consider how you can inform the congregation about the work of congregation and motivate them to see each ministry as a vital aspect of the church. Once you’ve been able to do this effectively, then when you ask for pledges and gifts during the annual giving campaign, or a capital campaign, parishioners are glad to give because they already feel connected to the work of the church and called to be part of it.
Offering Talk Resources During Social Distancing Resources — Giving 365 [free account login required]
Here is a great list of questions to prompt storytelling:
- What momentous things have happened to you here at Our Church?
- Where do you see Jesus at Our Church?
- What feeds your soul at Our Church?
- Who at Our Church has influenced you?
- Tell a story of how you been changed at Our Church.
- What inspires you in Our Church?
- Why is Our Church a good place to be?
- What little details do you treasure at Our Church?
- What do you look forward to at Our Church?
- When was a time you felt cared for at Our Church?
- What is the one thing you would tell a stranger about Our Church?
Saying thank you is just as important as any other aspect of stewardship. I love to say, that it’s like voting in Chicago – say it often and in as many ways as possible. Most importantly, say it in the way that is meaningful to the person you are acknowledging. Handwritten card, email, phone call, Facebook post, write it in the sky, from the pulpit – do what will matter to them.
What examples have you found that you like? Here's one from Fearless Church Fundraising, that you're welcome to edit for your context.