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A Look at STEWARDSHIP Programs No Need to Start From Scratch: Published Resources Plus some theological, practical, and cultural musings Stewardship Begins With Theology

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A Look at STEWARDSHIP Programs

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no need to start from scratch published resources
No Need to Start From Scratch:Published Resources

Plus some theological, practical, and cultural musings

stewardship begins with theology
Stewardship Begins With Theology

Any campaign should begin with and be conducted with a “biblical basis” and a “spiritual focus.” The focus is first on stewardship, then on the money.

Stewardship ought to be integrated holistically into the entire ministry and mission of a congregation. The actual campaign to “fund” the budget is only one part of the education, worship, and mission arising out of stewardship over the year.

in a nutshell quotes
In a Nutshell Quotes

“Stewardship is not only a matter of money. But it is never LESS than a matter of money.”

in a nutshell quotes5
In a Nutshell Quotes

“Jesus summed up the spiritual connection between money and God this way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Financial stewardship is treasure management that helps us to escape the trap of selfishness by keeping ourselves spiritually focused on God. Each of us makes two choices in life. We either become emotionally attached to our money, or we become emotionally attached to the God who gives us our money.”

–New Consecration Sunday

in a nutshell quotes7
In a Nutshell Quotes

“Stewardship means using the gifts God has given us to produce God’s shalom on earth.”

--Celebrate the Gift: Stewardship Beyond Survival

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time

As we think about the acts of God on our behalf, our hearts respond with gratitude …

Then, as we think about living grateful lives, we realize that we are not really developing a theology of stewardship. Instead, we are discovering a theology which draws us directly into a life of stewardship.

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time9
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time

Given these understandings, and building on the biblical base, stewardship is the responsive practice of Christians making proper use of the gifts God has given them for the sake of God's work in the world and is marked by the following elements:

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time10
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time
  • Stewards recognize that "the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it." (Psalm 24:1-2)

That recognition includes the realization that the steward is the Lord's as well.

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time11
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time

2. Stewards understand that, while they are given a great deal of freedom, they are not autonomous. The owner will review their work. Just as the potter molds the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-13), so the Lord of Creation shapes the life of the steward. To realize this is to realize, as well, that stewardship is not a matter of finding rules but recognizing that the whole of life is under the Rule of the Redeemer. Therefore, a life of stewardship will be an "exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world." (Book of Order G-1.0200)

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time12
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time

3. Stewards are not just caretakers. They are to hand on their work with improvements. In creation, God instructed humankind to "be fruitful and multiply." Stewards will be creative and productive with the resources they have.

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time13
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time

4 Stewards are not beneficiaries - others are. Stewards do not give because they happen to have enough to give. Stewards have received what they have for the very purpose of giving it away. "No surer rule and no more valid exhortation to keep it could be devised than when we are taught that all the gifts we possess have been bestowed by God and entrusted to us on condition that they be distributed for our neighbor's benefit." (John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.6.5) He goes on to say that since there is no way we can increase God's possessions, the way we extend generosity toward God is by practicing it toward the saints on earth.

living grateful lives stewardship theology in our time14
Living Grateful Lives:Stewardship Theology in Our Time

5. Stewards are to use and build on the gifts given in a way that reflects the character and purposes of the owner. Therefore, our stewardship should bear witness to the love, mercy and grace of the triune God creates, redeems and sustains the world.

year round stewardship approach
Year Round Stewardship Approach
  • A vital stewardship program goes all year around and is explored through these avenues:
  • Sermons
  • Worship/Liturgy
  • Bible Study
  • Special events
  • Missional focus
  • Leadership Development
  • Child/Youth Nurture
  • Direct and Indirect references (i.e. Newsletters & placemats, or financial reports & church life ppts)
a callahan detour
A Callahan Detour
  • Compassion
  • Community “Excellent Sprinter”
  • Hope
  • Challenge
  • Reasonability “Marathon Runners”
  • Commitment Key leaders

We’ll come back to Callahan but….

stewardship motivation
Stewardship & Motivation

Stewardship Programs usually focus motivational prongs from the top half or the bottom half (or both) of the motivational grid. One thing which seems clear is that if you don’t focus on the top half, only the committed will be motivated by the “bottom half”.

  • COMPASSION/COMMUNITY/HOPE:Stewardship is our grateful response to God’s generosity.
  • CHALLENGE/REASONABILITY/COMMITMENT: Stewardship is the spiritual discipline of Obedience to the Lord.
talking about money
Talking About Money
  • Formal campaigns are not “normative” in Western PA culture.
  • This is surprising to clergy who come from other regions or demographics
  • Many First Call Pastors have not been trained about Stewardship as a congregational lifestyle or campaigns – since the congregations they are called to here may never have dealt with it, everyone has a learning curve
  • We have an urgent need to develop healthy and natural ways to talk about money.
why the resistance
Why the Resistance?

Some Reflections

Small Churches based on “relationships, not gimmicks” (Tex Sample)

Many of the churches who have chosen not to talk about money directly are concerned about not “embarrassing” members, particularly those who might be facing financial challenges.

This is combined with the conviction that everyone is “doing as much as they can” (which works with high commitment generations)

why the resistance21
Why the Resistance?

Fear that running a “high pressure” campaign might offend some people, or that some people might leave through anger or embarrassment

Many of our churches began as outposts for receiving mission—they were the place for support for people whose liveswere very hard. They never have “seen” themselves asbeing missional in outreach

Your ideas?

practical considerations
Practical Considerations
  • Any campaign is going to take longer than you expect.
  • Now is the time to plan for a Fall launch, even if the “big focus” will be November
  • Whoever is in charge needs to know the materials before explaining them to anyone else
  • Expect that Murphy’s Law will defeat any quick shipments you need and order ahead
things we really don t talk about
Things We REALLY Don’t Talk About
  • When you start to talk about money, it’s “primal ground.” You can expect “the squirrels to jump out of the trees” and need to not be surprised by conflict. It’s normal.
  • For many clergy, low entry level salaries (when combined with average seminary debt load) creates a financial pressure cooker which some ministers might feel they need to hide, but which makes it difficult to talk about substantive stewardship because of the pressure to be lead givers.
things we really don t talk about24
Things We REALLY Don’t Talk About
  • For those clergy and church leaders who are lead givers, it’s not uncommon to be coming to a hidden slow boil over the “low level of giving” among members who “could afford to give more.”
  • Oftentimes, scheduling a Healthy Church or Conflict Workshop might be part of what a church could do in coming to grips with stewardship.
  • “Unfortunately only 4 out of 10 Protestant congregations conduct any sort of annual stewardship campaign. This keeps many churches in the poverty-syndrome category.” (Barna’s research)
30 second stretch then

On to the Programs:

  • Consecration Sunday
  • Pony Express
  • Celebrate the Gift
  • Confident Stewards
  • Callahan Compassion Campaign
new consecration sunday
New Consecration Sunday
  • Program by Herb Miller developed in the 90’s & extensively revised in 2002
  • “Rather than requesting financial contributions to pay the bills or support the budget, New Consecration Sunday asks people to grow spiritually by giving a percentage of their income to the Lord’s work through their congregations. Annual campaigns are essential because people do not drift into good giving habits. They decide into them.
big picture overview
Big Picture Overview
  • Assumes laypeople don’t want to visit other people in their homes to fill out a pledge card.
  • Teaches stewardship on the need of the giver to give for their own spiritual benefit, rather than on the basis of the need of the church to receive to balance the budget.
  • Estimate of Giving cards during worship models stewardship as part of our worship of God, rather than fundraising procedure.
  • Campaign before building the annual budget.
  • Assumes people can enjoy rather than feel negative about stewardship programs.
the nitty gritty
The Nitty Gritty
  • Led by an invited guest leader: chief skill—ability to follow directions and timelines exactly
  • 3 meetings with guest leader and Consecration Study Team/Session
  • Publicity (kit includes model letters/announcements)
  • Consecration Sunday Celebration Luncheon – church leaders make calls to secure reservations from all members, not to ask for money
the nitty gritty29
The Nitty Gritty
  • Guest Leader preaches on Consecration Sunday & conducts seven-minute commitment session at end of service inviting people to fill out Estimate of Giving card
  • Celebration luncheon (catered, not potluck or prepared by church group)
  • Results announced at luncheon
  • Followup the next day with those not present
  • Between Labor Day & Thanksgiving Day
  • Budget created after campaign
new consecration sunday strengths
New Consecration Sunday Strengths
  • “On the average New Consecration Sunday increases a church’s financial contributions 15 to 30 percent per year.
  • Everything is spelled out systematically and in detail. All the materials needed (like Estimate of Giving cards) can be ordered.
  • Many tips and points on biblical passages and talking about stewardship
  • Very clear process with a manageable amount of material
  • Several churches in KiskiPby have seen good results, in particular for the first 2 years
consecration sunday drawbacks
Consecration Sunday Drawbacks
  • “Very rigid program” says one of our pastors. Can be perceived as quite dogmatic
  • If the results are not a spectacular increase, a church could easily feel like a failure at a “guaranteed” program.In Western PA, spending the money on a catered dinner is often a real sticking point. May feel wasteful and extravagant. May feel SO much this way that everything else gets “stuck” on this point. (Tips: perhaps see if a neighboring church will prepare the meal for a modest amount. Or be clear that you have located a very modest caterer. Possibly modify Miller by permitting key leaders to help subsidize the cost, rather than taking it from the budget.)
pony express
Pony Express

“The Pony Express, the leading complete stewardship program, has been fulfilling the needs of more than 22,000 congregations around the country for over 25 years. This famous relay system is unsurpassed for maximizing responses from your church members. Now with first, second, and third year versions, The Pony Express has proven so effective that many churches use it time and again.”

StewardshipResources.com (CSS)

pony express33
Pony Express

Here's How The Popular Relay System Works

Prior to the solicitation of financial commitments, members who are mobile are divided into ten-houshold "Pony Express Run" routes. A special saddlebag is prepared for each route. It contains financial stewardship reading material as well as unsealed enclosure envelopes containing "estimate of giving" cards. Attached to the saddlebag strap is a list showing the names, street addresses and phone numbers of the route families and the "trail boss" recruited and trained to supervise the bag relay from home to home.

pony express34
Pony Express

Here's How The Popular Relay System Works

After the noon hour on the Sunday you designate, the trail bosses and their families start the Pony Express Run by sitting down in their homes and carefully digesting the motivational stewardship reading booklet. Then, each prayerfully fills in their estimated giving during the coming year, stewardship booklet is returned to the pouch from which it was removed. Next, the saddlebag is hurried on to the second household on the route list.

pony express35
Pony Express

This second household repeats the process and then, within 24 hours, delivers the saddlebag to the third one for it's use. Returning home, this delivering "route rider" household reports by phone to the trail boss that the bag has been handed to a responsible member of the receiving household. After the last one on the route has used the bag, it is relayed back to the trail boss-- who delivers to the church office the "church mail" it contains.

pony express36
Pony Express

Route-assigned households who were "missed" during the Run are sent letters with estimate of giving cards and return envelopes enclosed. They agree urged to respond without delay, ahead of the Sunday on which the summary report of the results of the campaign is made.

Prior to the Run, alert homebound members and members too scattered to have been placed on neighborhood routes will have received in the mail their estimate cards and return envelopes--with the invitation to let their postal carrier assist them in participating in their church's campaign. Or, as an option, special routes will have been created the these persons, with trail bosses recruited to relay the bags on for them.

pony express37
Pony Express

What--No Pledge Cards?

That's right! The Pony Express Plan does not ask members to sign pledge cards. Nor does it call for "officials from the church" to call on members seeking their financial commitments. Part of the magic of this different approach is that it "wires around" the objections many members have to "signing a pledge."

pony express 2 nd year
Pony Express: 2nd Year

The second year plan builds on the success and familiarity your congregation already has with the First year program. However, along with new artwork and letters there are several new additions.

Second Year PX Stewardship Education

Prior to the solicitation of estimates of giving, members are encouraged to engage in a study of Christian stewardship through their Sunday morning classes. The teachers' guides for the four week adult study and the three week youth study are both titled, Stewardship-Our Heritage.

pony express 2 nd year39
Pony Express: 2nd Year

Run Sunday Motivational Skit

If our church has a celebration worship style, then the delightful "Happy Trails" skit offers you a perfect opportunity to re-excite your members about the saddlebag relay AND remind them how it works

Second Year Phone Follow Up Solicitation

Immediately following the saddlebag relay, you will have the opportunity to let a phone team contact relay"missed" families and others to invite them to make verbal giving estimates. Suggested conversation scripts, carefully written to fit the categories of persons you may with to phone for follow-up solicitation, are provided. Missed route families who are also missed by the phone team will receive a missed family letter that encloses their estimate cards and a return envelope.

pony express 3rd year
Pony Express: 3rd Year

Shortened Relay Time. Whereas the previous Pony Express programs called for the bag to be relayed at 24 hour intervals over a period of up to two weeks, the third year plan calls for the bag to be relayed at 30 to 45 minute intervals on Run Sunday and the following Monday and Tuesday. The big advantage of this abbreviated Run, obviously, is that it gets the campaign completed in an even shorter time that before! You will be pleased to learn that the overwhelming majority of third year user churches have experienced satisfaction AND success with the shortened relay timeline.

Serious Stewardship Education. These excellent resources provide teaching materials to be used in three Sunday church school sessions prior to the solicitation of estimates.

And, stewardship involvement materials for older and younger elementary age children are provided, too.

pony express 3rd year41
Pony Express: 3rd Year

Church-wide Chuck Wagon Dinner. Chuck Wagon Dinner Sunday, which involves the entire congregation, is held in the dining room/fellowship hall or other spacious facility the week prior to Run Sunday. The primary purpose of this popular event is to present to the membership the planned program and budget for the coming year. An important secondary purpose is to re-enforce positive feelings toward the church by creating a warm Christian atmosphere in which members may experience enjoyable fellowship.

  • Involves the whole congregation with “playful” images and storyline
  • Motivation to complete route on time
  • Every member solicitation without “hovering”
  • Very detailed check-off sheets and timetable sheets
  • “First I spread all the materials out on one table. Then I needed another table.”
  • All the materials in envelopes seem difficult to “wrap your mind around” and it’s a bit difficult to jump between book and envelopes. Need to make backup copies before passing envelopes to trail bosses, etc.
  • Not as many biblical and stewardship suggestions (in year one at least). Instructions like “Preach your 3rd sermon on stewardship.” There is one sermon model.
celebrate the gift
Celebrate the Gift

Stewardship Beyond Survival by Leo Waynick

The theme, “Celebrate the Gift” invites us to rejoice both in the gifts with which we have been blessed and in God’s gifts of Christ and the Holy Spirit. The theme and logo are drawn from 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, which describes our giftedness.

celebrate the gift45
Celebrate the Gift

One of 5 10-week programs in the Stewardship Beyond Survival Series.

It features:

  • a prayer connection;
  • "Celebrate the Gift" Commitment Sunday;
  • celebration cards.

The "Celebrate the Gift" program interprets stewardship in terms of gifts. It invites your congregation to rejoice both in the gifts with which you have been blessed and in God's gifts of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

celebrate the gift46
Celebrate the Gift

On four Sundays prior to "Celebrate the Gift" Sunday, celebration cards are used to help members celebrate what they enjoy and appreciate about the Christian faith and your congregation. The cards are displayed in a prominent place in your church after they are completed each Sunday so that they may be read as people come to worship.

celebrate the gift47
Celebrate the Gift
  • Coordination Team
  • Begins with celebration cards
  • Uses Lay speakers and info from the cards
  • Estimate of Giving Card on “Celebrate the Gift” Sunday
  • Focuses on developing a vision of stewardship beginning with a vision of ministry and mission
  • Focus on prayer and communication
  • Well-Organized
  • Solidly biblical and theological
  • Materials are not overwhelming
  • Provides for flexibility and doesn’t feel as “my way or the highway” as Consecration Sunday
  • Rooted in relationships
  • Part of 5 part series which provides for “difference” each year
  • Not as “Glitzy” or “canned”
  • Not as “Glitzy” or “canned”
  • Some of the printed materials are graphically not as attractive; (kind of look like they were done on a typewriter)
  • Not as many supportive resources
  • The Celebrate the Gift Sunday is not a high-powered dinner and may be less well-attended (although in our regional area might be just as well attended)
confident steward
Confident Steward

Confident Steward 2.0: A Year-round Stewardship Program

A year-round stewardship program consists of three major components only one of which is the financial campaign. The three components are:

Stewardship Education …Mission Interpretation …Financial Stewardship

Stewardship education is that portion of the program that helps the members of congregations understand the meaning of stewardship both biblically and theologically. Members of all ages are taught the lessons of what it means to be the stewards of the gifts of God. This program will help you locate and plan for stewardship education for all ages year round.

confident steward51
Confident Steward

Mission is the way that disciples use the gifts of God to show God’s grace to each other and to the world. An active mission interpretation program helps people understand the opportunities and the results of their stewardship. This program will link you to the latest information about the denominational mission program — in the presbytery, synod and General Assembly. It will also help you develop materials and presentations that will interpret your local mission.

Financial Stewardship is the method by which we obtain commitment to the life of discipleship. This is done primarily through a financial campaign that provides the means for those commitments to be made. These campaigns often include the opportunity to make commitment of time and talent as well as money.

confident steward52
Confident Steward

This interactive CD and Web-based year-round stewardship program

  • Guides you through suggested tasks each two months and provides information about each task
  • Provides material to be used in the stewardship program
  • Assists you in preparing your own materials
  • Links you to interpretative information about the mission of the church
  • Allows you to use professionally developed graphics on your own customized materials
confident steward53
Confident Steward

CDs Available ($10.95 each):

  • Small Group
  • Direct Mail
  • Consecration Day
  • Every Member Visitation
  • Congregational Dinner
  • Telephone Method
  • Sunday Worship
  • Personal Delivery

Each CD includes a Getting started page with samples and materials for that particular approach. The rest of the CD is the same for each theme. (Let’s Look at a demo).

confident steward54
Confident Steward


  • Resource with Presbyterian P.O.V.—don’t have to adapt to fit our faith tradition
  • “Deep Resource”: many links, a LOT of material
  • Helpful calendar
  • Good theological and biblical helps
  • When connected to Internet can access other useful material on the PCUSA website
  • Nice themes and clipart for several years’ worth of campaigns
confident steward55
Confident Steward


  • The disks we viewed are definitely in beta. Some of them had technical problems launching.
  • Not all of the links have been “fixed” to reference the approach the CD is supposed to be “about”
  • (We talked with the director, and the glitches are being worked out)
  • But in terms of content, it is very rich/deep, but also confusing. Would be almost impossible to conduct an organized campaign without a great deal of work.
  • Does not have as many models or supplemental materials as the other (more expensive) programs
callahan compassion campaigns
Callahan: Compassion Campaigns

The problem with Commitment Sundays/pledge drive: first 50 households give; second 50 don’t give much, but the harvest is:

    • eruptive forms of anger
    • subliminal resistance
    • low grade hostility
    • passive aggressive behavior

Might think about a campaign which is organized on compassion, community, hope

  • Have a Compassion Sunday rather than a Commitment Sunday
  • Have a Hope Budget rather than a Commitment Budget
wording for estimate of giving card
Wording for Estimate of Giving Card

We are grateful for the compassion and generosity of God’s gifts in our lives.

We are thankful for the Hope with which God blesses us.

We generously pledge(or estimate our gift) ______ to advance God’s Mission in 2006

Bulletin newsletter: people-centered/family-centered document, not institutional document

six ways people give
Six Ways People Give

Six ways people give generously

  • Spontaneous
  • Major Sundays
  • Planned
  • Major project
  • Annual
  • Enduring gifts

All six are available to congregations

spontaneous giving
Spontaneous Giving

Spontaneous 3-5 causes–save 2 of these out of budget for special cause impulse giving

If you do not make it available to your people, they will give to other organizations

  • Children
  • Youth to Camp
  • Mission project
  • Sudden disaster
  • Special Cause
major gift campaign
Major Gift Campaign

Major Project: blueprint for mission

  • Mission,
  • Staffing
  • Capital improvements
  • New building
  • Debt retirement
enduring gifts campaign
Enduring Gifts Campaign

Enduring Gifts

  • Discover 5-8 projects
  • set goal for each
  • set date for each goal
  • enduring gifts team
  • Have a good fun gathering–assure people they have balance, integrity and enduring appeal
saying thank you
Saying Thank You

Positive reinforcement raises more generosity any day than negative reinforcement every day

When congregation is doing well, say “thank you well done”

Send confirmation “thank you” confirming pledge

Thank for current, increased, first time, new recorded contributions, special gifts–personal notes for all of these. Recruit some whose spiritual gift is writing notes of encouragement.

Make Statements “Thank You” Statements and include Encouragement Letters

wisdom from here at home
Wisdom from Here at Home

About all “canned” programs:

Honestly Erin, the best advice I can give on my years of using all the ones that you will be describing. They will all work extremely well if you have a committed team of planners, enablers, and carry it outers. I have not seen any significant change in commitment, except if the message comes from the heart and soul of those getting the message out.

In our experience the Consecration Sunday tended to spin the figures by inflating what those who weren’t there were likely to give. 3 out of our 4 years we came in lower.

wisdom from here at home65
Wisdom from Here at Home

The worst campaign is letter form.

We had some pretty good success with a Phone-a-thon type of program for three years in a row. We used one of our local church member's business establishments and tied up 4 phone lines. People were told they would be getting phone calls.

The last two years the Session has designed a program around some themes that began to be presented through marketing in early September. This was followed by some intentional designs of graphics reflecting theme and materials mailed to people along with some Mission moments in church. The results compared with that of Consecration Sunday. It depends on who your workers are and how committed the are willing to be --Gary Lyon

more wisdom from at home
More Wisdom from at Home

For the past few years, we dwelt on money at the congregational meeting which occurs the week prior to the stewardship dinner. An elder walks through the budget, quickly summarizing parts and taking questions.

On the day of the stewardship dinner, copies of the budget are made available and another opportunity for questions is given. But a major focus of the Stewardship Dinner is recognition of the commissioned service of the Visitation Teams.

Pledges are dedicated in worship on a Sunday around this time. Lately we're getting about 40% of the cards returned.

more wisdom from at home67
More Wisdom from at Home

Prior to the congregational meeting, our campaign has consisted lately of a direct mailing including a copy of the line-item budget, a fact sheet highlighting parts of the budget, a copy of the current year's mission plan, a pledge card and a letter written by a different person (or people) from year to year.

Last fall, 2 of our youth who attended the triennium wrote thanking the congregation for their support and acknowledging the nurture they’ve received over the years.

This past year we did leadership pledging. When the letter went out, it included the fact that 25% of the budget was already pledged by the session and deacons.

Hope this is helpful. We are ready to do something different -- probably a narrative budget to be mailed with the pledge card. We've done those before with some success.

--Cowansville First Union Church, Mary Marks King

  • New Consecration Sunday:www.abingdonpress.com
  • Pony Express:http://stewardshipresources.com/
  • Celebrate the Gift (LeeWay Resources)
  • http://www.leway.net/Index.htm
  • Confident Steward:http://pcusa.org/stewardship/ordercd.htm
  • Kennon CallahanGiving and Stewardship in an Effective Church; Effective Church Finances: Fundraising and Budgeting for Church Leaders (order from amazon.com)