Once a year, and only once a year, we take a weekend to reflect on our financial commitment to our local parish church. The following are 5 practices we’ve found helpful in hosting a successful stewardship program, i.e., one that receives a positive response and solid commitments for giving.
ONE: Our Stewardship Sunday is a success because of the discipline we impose on ourselves throughout the rest of the year. We host no fundraisers, ever, we have no second or special collections, we never sell anything in our lobby. Of course we talk about money as often as it comes up in the Lectionary (which is often) but we only talk about giving to our parish once a year.
TWO: So that no one is surprised or blindsided, we give plenty of advanced notice that it is coming, although because its on the same weekend every year, most people are expecting it. They also know its probably not the optimum weekend to invite guests. We choose the weekend before Thanksgiving, because we think of our offering as an act of thanksgiving. We actually distribute commitment cards in the weeks prior to the stewardship weekend to encourage people to take time to think about and pray about their gift. Obviously this, in turn, yields more thoughtful, prayerful commitments.
THREE: Our message on Stewardship Sunday is carefully crafted to focus on giving as a worship offering. We talk about giving in your place of worship as an act of worship. Listen to a great testimony from one of our parish families regarding their journey for giving at Nativity HERE
FOUR: We rely on 4 basic principles for giving, that we repeat religiously each year. We want parishioners to give in a way that is planned and a priority in their budget. We also challenge people to give a percentage of their income, whatever the percentage but always keeping in mind the biblical standard of the tithe. And we further challenge everyone to commit to progress in their percentage each year, moving closer to the tithe.
FIVE: While many pastors and parishioners alike dread this exercise we try and turn it into a celebration. We always include humor in the homily, to get people smiling and we usually add some fun element, like a video. We like to have some snack or treat to give away after Mass to encourage fellowship. On Stewardship Sunday we always host our annual parish business meeting. It is open to everyone and run by our parish financial officers and Financial Council. They present the previous year’s budget and answer questions about income and expenses. That this meeting is usually not very well attended which is received as a positive sign that people are generally satisfied with how we’re handling their money. But it is important that everyone know we offer this meeting for purposes of transparency and accountability.
Please join us for Stewardship Weekend at Nativity as we celebrate 50 years of stewardship. This is a weekend you do NOT want to miss.
Mass On our Ridgely Road Campus
November 17: 5pm
November 18: 9, 10:30am, 12n, 5:30pm
Watch Online at www.churchnativity.com
November 18: 9, 10:30am, 12n, 2, 4, 5:40, 7 & 9pm