Stewardship is a way of life, but in many if not most of our churches, we refer to "stewardship season" as though it happens only once a year. Inspiring generosity is one of the most important tasks of the church as we seek to make God's love and justice real for everyone. This is best accomplished by a year-round cycle that includes cultivating faith, telling the story, inviting support, thanking, and stewarding our collective gifts. (Refer to the "Inspiring Generosity" cycle here on our website.) At our last meeting, the MACUCC Stewardship Commission talked about some of the ways that we can cultivate generosity that tie in with the church calendar, both theologically and functionally. Here are some ideas for the current and coming season.
Now is the time when many of our churches are preparing their annual reports and getting ready for annual meeting. An intense focus on the budget can tend to generate anxiety and cramp vision. Instead, focus on your giftedness as a congregation - how God has blessed you and how your church is extending that blessing to others by changing lives for the better, within and beyond the faith community. A few ideas:
· create a narrative budget this year to tell your church's story in the context of God's story
· focus annual reports and meetings on how lives are being changed and your vision for the future
· promote greater transparency regarding giving in the congregation so that people can be informed and inspired to grow in generosity and spirit
Where do we place our trust? Lent is an important time for spiritual reflection and practice. Generosity is a fruit of the spirit that grows through the spiritual discipline of giving - not just our money, but our whole lives. It's time to climb into the offering basket and dedicate ourselves to God at the altar. Whether you conduct your stewardship campaign in the Spring or Fall, consider doing the following during Lent:
· plan a Lenten series on spiritual practices, including giving
· encourage people to write their "money autobiography" or to join a small-group discussion about faith and money
· send a quarterly thank you note and update to all members to regarding what is going on in the life of the church and the status of their giving
Members of the MACUCC Stewardship Commission include Rev. Andrea Ayvazian, Chris Barensfeld, Rev. Peter Cook, Hooks Johnson, Jane McCord, Rev. Sylvia Robinson, and Karen Weisgerber. Interested in joining our upcoming meetings? Contact Andy or Jena.