The Prioritization of Stewardship Ministry

Don’t try. Be persistent with stewardship ministry.  Persistence is an often-noted behavior of effective stewardship development.

It was the Jedi master, Yoda, who famously said, “Do or don’t do, there is no try.”  “Trying” financial development is not a practice of the highly efficient non-profit organization.  They do it every day.  If fundraising does not get the results for which they were hoping, they don’t discard the practice.  They keep going to conferences, reading about what is trending, and continuing to search for new tactics to inspire generosity to their causes.  A few sectors of the nonprofit world experienced increased donor support in recent years, and this did not occur because a few people experimented with financial development.  It happened because they believed the work of financial development was good, they prioritized it, they had a development plan, and they worked the plan persistently.

Prioritization, planning, and persistence.  Those are three of the core reasons fundraising work is successful. So, to church leaders, I pose the following questions:  Are you prioritizing, planning, and persistently engaging the work of stewardship development?  Or, does the work come and go, depending on the month of the year, or the season of the church community—such as when you encounter the need for emergency funding and decide on an immediate capital campaign?

This is the first of three directives I am writing on how you as a church leader can be more proactive with stewardship development in 2015.  Certainly, we all agree on the importance of preparation and planning.  Search committees spend loads of time discerning the right replacement for the new senior pastor, choirs are disciplined at preparing to sing together in harmony on Sundays, and pastors spend at least 1 day per week to prepare themselves to deliver 30 minute sermons.  We believe in giving time to the things we value.  But what about stewardship development?  Is it valued by church leadership?  If it is, it will receive the gifts of time, effort, and prioritization from church leadership. It will not be tried; it will be a ministry that never ends.

Prioritization.  Start a new folder on your desktop with this name on it.  This is your new Church Stewardship folder.  Communicate to others on your staff and your leadership team that you are making this commitment to stewardship ministry in 2015.  Ask people to join you and to make this a priority.  If you and others don’t create a plan and make a long term commitment, you will only “try” stewardship development, and trying will lead to failure and disappointment.  Imagine if pastors only “tried” sermon preparation for one sermon and never did it again.  You can’t imagine, because it would never happen.

To prioritize something is to give it time and fearlessness.  Growing up, my dad drilled the following truth into me, “Remember, people find time for what they want to find time for.”  Amidst a filled schedule, my dad’s mantra keeps whispering truth to me.  I still find ways to do what I want to do.  Last month I read four books.  This month I am planning to read four more.  Reading is a priority, and therefore, I do it.  You can engage stewardship development on a regular basis.  But, you have to want to do it and believe in the work.  Do you believe in the work, and are you willing to share your time with it?

What about fear?  Many pastors I work with have to deal with fear in this area.  They begin with a fear of offending people.  They fear people will leave the church community if the “asking for money” is too bold or too frequent.  How afraid of this are you?  You may have to do it afraid.  Many others have.

Will you make a 12-month commitment to stewardship ministry?  Will you commit to sharing your time, energy, creativity, and leadership with this work?  The decision to prioritize stewardship is the foundation of your work in stewardship development.  This year, I am offering a coaching/consulting track to help church leaders develop and nurture a 12-month stewardship ministry plan.  If you are ready to get started, contact me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *