In my book, Propel, I write about the importance of planning good stewardship campaigns. Now is the time of year to build a church stewardship plan for your fall stewardship sermon series and campaigns! Leadership is the key. Most pastors I know begin to ask, “What are the money management needs of our congregation for the coming year?” Many pastors survey the staff, key leaders, and the congregation.
How to Set Annual Church Stewardship Program Goals
Setting annual goals for your stewardship and generosity ministry is very important to help create focus and energy. These goals can come out of brainstorming sessions, but before any final decisions or approvals are made, be sure to refine them with those who will be working on them. Ownership is important for best results. Your creative stewardship ideas and planning will result in growth in generosity from your congregation.
My experience is that it helps to limit your strategic goals to no more than two to three per year. Too few will not generate the leadership dynamic you need, and too many will be frustrating to all involved. Every year, it is helpful to evaluate the previous year and set your strategic goals for the new year. The Annual Stewardship Campaign is about much more than money!
Whether it is a one-year church stewardship plan or a three-year mission, goals need to be specific, measurable, assignable (who will be responsible for the project?), realistic, and time-related. Specific goals can be identified from the areas of your ministry that need improvement.
Measurable ways of quantifying the progress or results of your stewardship campaign are essential for evaluation.
Realistic expectations are important, and yet the expectations should encourage risk and great results. Failure should not be punished. Time-related results keep moving us forward towards completion, or at least a sense of accomplishment. Do you want to increase the number commitment cards returned? Do you want to see an increase in the average giving per household?
Identifying Your Unique Stewardship Goals and Priorities
Here are some strategic priorities for your stewardship and generosity campaign team to consider as you seek to create a culture of stewardship that celebrates joyful, faithful, and sacrificial giving.
- To teach and interpret the biblical stewardship principles so that all members become disciples of Jesus Christ who are theologically informed, spiritually transformed, and living their faith daily.
- To preach and teach stewardship as an act of worship and generosity as an expression of faith and spiritual discipline.
- To invite all members to give a percentage of their income with the tithe (10 percent) as a goal.
- To call for a clear expectation that every member will return an “estimate of giving” card every year as a faith witness. Everyone can return a card, even if it is a minimal amount due to difficult financial circumstances like unemployment.
- To integrate stewardship education into all ages and stages of Christian education programs.
- To call upon our members, as well as church and public leaders, to work for economic justice and to support ministries and causes that demonstrate generous stewardship.
- To provide stewardship coaching and support to those who are in financial crises.
- To celebrate and champion the act of generous giving by sharing stewardship stories and video-based testimonies of changed lives.
- To ask members to consider giving a legacy gift so that our church’s future will be sustained.
- To call all church leaders and staff to lead by example and put God first in our living and giving.
- To steward and nurture relationships so that every member will be connected to a pastor, life group, task group, or ministry area. It is all about relationships!
Which two or three are most needed in your congregation now?
Adapted from Clayton Smith’s book, Propel-Good Stewardship-Greater Generosity) and Leading Ideas - Lewis Center for Church Leadership (January, 2016)