I often get a comment like “We haven’t done a stewardship campaign in decades. We don’t need to, we always pay the bills.” Or sometimes it’s “We don’t really talk stewardship in our church, it makes people uncomfortable.” Or my favorite is “We don’t want to be the church that always talks about money.”
All of these show a lack of stewardship leadership in the church, a shortcoming on the part of both the pastor and the laity.
Unfortunately it is easy to connect a campaign with the need for the church to get more money. That’s like saying we don’t need to do evangelism if the number of worshippers on our year-end report is enough to satisfy the District Superintendent or we don’t need to do any mission work because poor people aren’t beating down your door.
A good stewardship campaign can help pay the bills, but there are other great things that can happen:
- You teach people to give. Young families in your congregation probably weren’t raised in the church. Do they know how to give? Do they understand what a tithe is?
- You encourage people to grow. Ask your Financial Secretary how many members have given the same amount for the last five years, ten years, even back to the Eisenhower Administration. If the message they get is that what they’re giving is doing the job, why give more? They can keep their church giving flat and spend that money somewhere else. By the way, the salesmen at Best Buy appreciate this approach.
- You can dream. You don’t need a campaign because you’re paying the bills, but are you funding the dream? Churches with flat giving have flat programming. When was the last time you thought about how you can reach the community or make more mature disciples? If every new idea for years is met with “We can’t afford it,” creativity dries up.
- It ties money to the life of the church. Churches that “talk about money too often” are probably demanding more money too often and not coming from a missional perspective. A campaign can connect growing stewardship to growing programs, vital outreach and a church in mission.