We are accustomed to thinking of stewardship in terms of the annual "pledge drive." It happens once a year, and mostly we endure it as a necessary evil to raise money to run the church. But stewardship is not an annual "event" we hold in October. Stewardship is what we do with all that God has given us, all the time. This calendar takes stewardship out of the "annual occurrence" category and places it where it should be - right in front of us, all year ‘round.
The calendar gives congregations suggestions and resources for practicing year ‘round stewardship. Each month, the church season is explained and a theme is identified around which individual and congregational activities might take place in five recurring categories: Spiritual Growth, Ministry Spotlight, Financial Health, Outside Ourselves and God's Creation.
To get it started, we are identifying a theme for each month, along with resources and suggestions for implementing the theme in each category. But this is only a starting place. Use as many or as few of the suggestions and resources offered. Be brave - and creative - and custom-fit the ideas to your congregation. For instance if the calendar suggests thanking your music ministry team and you don't have a music ministry at your church, take this is opportunity to raise that awareness in your congregation and think about what you need and how you can accomplish it.
Links to the Monthly Calendars are to the right. An explanation of each of the five categories of our Stewardship "pie" is below:
Faithful stewardship is deeply connected to a healthy spiritual life. This category offers ways to deepen the spiritual lives of individuals and the congregation. The focus of the spirituality component will always go deeper into the theme of the month.
The mission of a congregation is largely carried out through its ministries. Focusing on a different ministry each month is a way of giving thanks for that ministry and raising awareness about it to attract new participants (the time and talent part of stewardship). Ways to do this include commissioning ministry members during a church service, highlighting a different ministry in the church newsletter each edition, or inviting the ministry head to say a few words about the ministry during the announcements segment of worship.
This component also encourages saying "thank you" to a particular ministry every month by writing thank you notes to individual ministry members or serving dinner at one of the ministry's meetings (or a way that you think of).
This category offers a particular opportunity for an appeal, focus on fiscal responsibility, or financial ministry offering. Some of these activities can be used to communicate the congregational leadership's good stewardship of the congregation's material resources. Activities in the financial component should not be limited to congregational finances; there are also many ways families can be intentional about how they manage their money including what they are saving and what percentage of their income they are giving away.
In outreach we take our stewardship to the streets of our communities. These activities help people connect their pledge to ministry; in addition, communicating and celebrating the stories of meeting the needs of people are important motivators for personal stewardship decisions.
A steward is a person to whom something is entrusted, and how we care for the environment that God has entrusted to us is a mark of our faithfulness. This category can include caring for the environment in our communities, in our homes, and in our churches. Activities that show care for the environment are especially attractive to children and families.