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Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Stewardship

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Deborah Rexrode is curating a blog series called “A New Perspective on Stewardship.” We’ll hear from some stewardship experts across the country on a wide range of what stewardship means for them. What are ways stewardship can be a spiritual practice? How might we come to a new understanding of the role of stewardship in ministry? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Deborah Rexrode

This month I had the privilege of curating a series of blog posts on stewardship. Those who have contributed have approached stewardship from many important perspectives. When I began my ministry as the Associate for Stewardship for the Presbytery of the James, I put together a list of what I consider to be the top ten things we need to know about stewardship. This is a great place to start the conversation with your stewardship leaders.

1 – Stewardship is a year-long ministry – Every Sunday is an opportunity to preach and teach about stewardship. Seize that opportunity whenever you can. Listen for God’s messages on stewardship in the scriptures. One good stewardship sermon in the fall during the annual stewardship campaign is not enough. Think about the people who might miss that Sunday or even avoid that sermon.

2 – Stewardship ministry should involve lots of people – The more people you include in this process, the more effective your stewardship ministry will be. People who serve as role models in the congregation are effective stewardship leaders. They demonstrate a high level of commitment not only in their giving but also in their gifts of time and talents. Invite them to serve in the area of stewardship.

3 – Stewardship is a topic worthy of ongoing study and discussion – There are lots of resources available for you to use in adult study groups and Sunday School classes of all ages. As stewardship leaders, it’s also important for you to spend time in study and prayer understanding stewardship in order to be effective leaders.

4 – Stewardship is more than financial giving – Often it is the case that we give most of our attention to the financial aspects of stewardship and therefore, give less attention to the other things that create a holistic vision of stewardship ministry – stewardship of time, talents, creation, relationships, worship, and even stewardship of our bodies. If we only focus on giving of our financial resources, we miss the opportunity to involve our congregations in the full understanding of stewardship ministries in our churches.

 5 – Stewardship ministry should have a definite plan – Develop an annual stewardship ministry plan embraced by the session and all the leaders of the congregation. Involve the Christian education committee, the outreach committee, the missions team, and the worship leaders. Do you all that you can to raise the awareness of what stewardship means to us as disciples of Christ.

6 – Stewardship is a way to say thank you – Send thank you notes when people give to the church. Send thank you notes when people are engaged in ministry in the church. Send thank you notes when people make a pledge and a commitment to serve God through the ministries of the church. A sincerely-worded handwritten thank you note can do more to promote the mission and vision of a church than any well-done campaign.

7 – Stewardship continues even when we die – Develop a legacy giving plan. According to the experts, America is undergoing the largest transfer of wealth in history as the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers leave their accumulated assets behind upon their deaths. All we need to do is encourage and provide ways for people to remember their church in their estate plan. Statistics show that the church is the number one charity and yet people do not include the church in their will. Implement a planned giving program.

8 – Stewardship is about good sound financial management – The top three reasons why people give to non-profits are: belief in the mission, trust in the leadership, and demonstrated accountability and transparency. That is the same for the church. People don’t give because the pastor is an inspiring preacher. They don’t give because the church is experiencing a budget deficit. They give because they believe in the mission, they trust the leaders, and there is a record of accountability and transparency.

9 – Stewardship is about telling stories of transformation – One of the most powerful tools for growing generosity in the church is telling the story of how the church is transforming people’s lives through its ministry. Every church has an abundance of people who can provide a witness to the ways in which their lives have been positively impacted by the people, the programs, and the ministries of the church. Have you heard any good stories lately?

10 – Stewardship is a spiritual discipline –Stewardship is a spiritual practice that allows us to live out the belief that all we have and all that we are belongs to God. Stewardship is our gifts of time, relationship, worship, thanksgiving, prayer, service, and material possessions. It is a way of living that includes giving. Stewardship goes beyond the church budget or building project and connects everything we do with what God is doing in the world.

We are called to be faithful stewards in all that God is calling us to do. It is being open to the opportunities and challenges that God places in our lives and serving with faith and joy. I hope you have been blessed by our stewardship series this month.


Deborah Rexrode is the Associate for Stewardship with the Presbytery of the James. She is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and brings to the Presbytery a background of research, study, and application of the theological understanding of stewardship and the importance of ongoing stewardship education in our congregations. Deborah enjoys opportunities to spend time with pastors, sessions, and stewardship committees to help them enhance their stewardship ministries. She is available for workshops, retreats, and pulpit supply. Check out her website at www.pojstewardship.com.

Toward a Year-Round Stewardship Ministry

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Deborah Rexrode is curating a blog series called “A New Perspective on Stewardship.” We’ll hear from some stewardship experts across the country on a wide range of what stewardship means for them. What are ways stewardship can be a spiritual practice? How might we come to a new understanding of the role of stewardship in ministry? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Ann Michel

As a child, I would roll my eyes when my mother repeated herself again and again and AGAIN. But as an educator, Mom knew that repetition is the key to learning. As a stewardship professional, I note with some irony the many church leaders who complain that their congregations just don’t seem to get it when it comes to giving and stewardship. And yet they never talk about stewardship outside of a commitment campaign conducted in a perfunctory way over a couple of weeks in the fall – a campaign culminating in “The Stewardship Sermon” – the one-and-only time each year when stewardship is preached from the pulpit.

Spiritual formation for stewardship and giving requires much more than this. It happens over a lifetime, as people grow in faith and discipleship. These days, fewer and fewer people come into our churches having learned the values or giving and tithing at home. And they are bombarded daily with cultural messages contrary to what our Christian faith teaches teaching about money and possessions. We have to constantly invite people into an alternative world view – one that attests to the truth that God really does provide for us abundantly, that we are stewards not owners of the things that God has entrusted to us, and that giving is more important than acquiring.

Creating a culture of generosity within your congregation can’t be done in a single Sunday or even in a month of Sundays. It’s something that needs to be done on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

A “stewardship calendar” can be an invaluable instrument in planning a more holistic, year-round approach to stewardship. Some wonderful examples of stewardship calendars can be found online from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

These planning templates suggest ways that stewardship themes can be tied into scriptural or liturgical themes across the church year and linked with various aspects of congregational life.

When I worked as the stewardship director at a large church in Washington, DC, I would create a yearly timeline to map out the various parts of our stewardship ministry – not just our pledge campaign. I would ask myself, when was the best time of year to focus on planned giving or stewardship of one’s lifetime assets? When would various special appeals be made? How might stewardship education, including training around financial literacy, fit into the overall church calendar? When would we send thank yous and giving statements? How would we help people think about stewardship of their time and talents?

My goal was to make sure that all aspects of stewardship received adequate attention – but at a time of year that made sense given the liturgical season and the church’ programmatic calendar. I also wanted to avoid overlapping appeals or competing messages. Once I knew we were going to be focusing on financial literacy in January, sacrificial giving during Lent, and stewardship of time and talents in the early fall, it was much easier to plan appropriate communication and connect our stewardship efforts with preaching, worship, and Christian education.

The goal of establishing a holistic, year-round stewardship ministry may sound daunting. But the wonderful thing is you can start small. Over the next year, experiment with adding something new. Maybe it’s a sermon series on a stewardship-related theme at a time of year totally apart from when you’re asking people to make pledges. I guarantee people will be more receptive to what you have to say if they don’t think it’s a thinly veiled attempt to get more of their money. Or maybe it’s conducting a “thank-a-thon” to acknowledge the importance of people’s support of the church’s mission and reinforce the connection between generosity and gratitude. And you don’t need to do everything on an annual basis. Classes on budgeting or preparing a will might be needed only every so often. But without planning, these things might easily fall through the cracks.

Our faith teaches that God created different times and seasons. A bit of planning can help us see how God’s call to generosity connects to every time and season, so that we might better reflect the abundant generosity of the God who created us and calls to be partners in God’s divine generosity.


Dr. Ann A. Michel has served as associate director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership since 2005. She is editor of the Lewis Center’s online newsletter, Leading Ideas. She also serves as an adjunct member of the faculty of Wesley Theological Seminary, supporting the Lewis Center’s curricular offerings as a lecturer in church leadership.

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