Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Why: We form a stewardship team for three reasons:

An effective team will raise more money to fund the church’s mission. Other factors play into people’s decision to fund or not to fund a congregation’s work. But, after the congregation’s relationship with the priest, a strong stewardship team presenting a compelling program is the single most important factor.

The stewardship program engenders support and appreciation for all  the other parish ministries.

The project of developing and presenting a stewardship program is a  chance for the members of the team to form or deepen relationships  that are the lifeblood of the congregation.

How: The priest, ideally in consultation with the wardens, identifies the   
           best people for the project and personally -- phone is ok but not   
           email – asks the person to serve. Do not send out a general    
           solicitation: “who wants to be on the stewardship team?” Call  
           someone up or take them to lunch and say, “I need you to do this.”

When: I blundered by trial and error into this mystery of   
            stewardship back in my parish priest days. If the stewardship
            team is formed and meets by March, you will have a strong
            campaign. Otherwise, you are behind the 8-ball. It does not work
            to panic on September 15 and nab someone to “write the letter.”
            If a core group is meeting and thinking about stewardship early,
            the vibe changes. Maybe it’s telepathic. Even if they don’t roll
            anything out until October, they need to start meeting by March.

Size:  Usually, stewardship team members give more money to the
           church than they would if they were not on the team. So if you want
           more money, it will help to have more people on the team. The  
           friends of team members are also more likely to give. So having
           more people on the team tends to mean more friends giving.

Who: The basic Heifetz principle applies. You need “the right people on the  
           bus.” So who are the right people? There are exceptions and a 
           congregation may want to do something special for a year. But
           generally, these principles apply:
             People who know people: The team’s strongest influence
             will be on their friends. So you need people who are connected.
             This is why it is important to diversify the team, as different
             people have different friends. You want diversity according
    demographics like age and race, but especially if the    
    congregation has more than one worship service, it is good
    to include people from the different worship services on the team.

     People who love the parish. The stewardship team represents 
     the congregation to the congregation. How they feel about the   
     congregation and its leadership, both lay and clergy, will come 
     across. Their attitude is absolutely crucial.

     People with a heart for stewardship. A lot of folks (including many 
     clergy) have emotional issues about money.  Others have such   
     issues about God. Put money and God in the same conversation   
     and it is not easy to find people with a healthy attitude. So look for      
     them diligently. They are the key.

     People who know stewardship. You need at least one, preferably   
     two or so, members who have been to The Episcopal Network for  
     Stewardship (TENS), Stewardship University, Project Resource,
     or some such training so they will have a sense of the best    
     practices today. The Church had a long period of decline. That’s
     when we learned that a lot of our old stewardship practices
     do not work. But people using TENS, Stew U, and Project
     Resource today are getting a very different result.

     People with skills. Most of all, you need someone with       
     organizational skills to get the job done – like running a
     meeting, ending with action steps, prescribing deadlines,
     and setting up accountability. Artistic skills, language skills,
     drama skills, etc. may all come into play depending on the
     kind of program the team plans.

     People with credibility. Who you appoint to the team tells
     the congregation whether this is important or not. You need
     someone on the team who has the respect of the congregation.

      People with time. Of course, no one has time. But you don’t
      want to overburden anyone with church work. So choose   
      someone who can be freed up from some of their other church
      work for a year. Do not choose your wardens, your treasurer,
      or your finance committee. Counting money and raising it are
      usually incompatible. So look a bit farther.

              People who can give themselves. These do not have to be
              your wealthiest members, but the team needs to be able
              to set an example of generosity.

No one person will have all traits we need in the stewardship team. That is fine. Just try to get all the traits represented by the team collectively. That just builds the value of the relationship-building component.

A well formed – and early formed! – stewardship team becomes a microcosm of the congregation. Its energy and vitality vibrate out into the congregation, enlivening worship, formation, evangelism, fellowship, and every aspect of parish life.

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