Great Teams Lead to Great Stewardship
By Marcia Shetler
This article was originally published in Giving Magazine Vol. 22, No. 1 in 2020. You can access the full issue here.
Is finding leaders for your congregational stewardship ministry a joy or a chore? If it’s the latter, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your stewardship ministry team structure. Consider establishing three teams for your stewardship ministry: the Finance Team, the Stewardship Team, and the Legacy Gifts Team.
The Stewardship Team
The Stewardship Team’s responsibilities focus on Christian stewardship as discipleship, giving as an essential part of our life as Christian stewards, and connecting generosity with the church’s mission and ministry. Activities for the Stewardship Team include educating the church on the many facets of stewardship, overseeing the annual stewardship campaign, and regularly communicating about how the congregation’s generosity is supporting its mission and ministry. Creative, visionary, and spiritual persons who are good communicators have important gifts for this team.
The Legacy Gifts Team
Legacy gifts are a unique type of generosity, and persons should have the necessary knowledge, discernment, and trust of the congregation to be members of the Legacy Gifts Team. This team needs to make sure the required policies and relationships with the appropriate supporting financial institutions exist to receive legacy gifts. They invite legacy gifts, celebrate the gifts and the givers, and uphold donor intent.
The Finance Team
The Finance Team is the manager of the gifts received and how they support the congregation’s mission and ministry, including monitoring income and expenses and generating financial reports. They also should take responsibility for thanking the givers. Persons with accounting and business experience are often good fits for this team. Other important characteristics are being able to analyze trends, being able to understand and interpret the church’s vision, and being realistic without being alarmist.
All Year Round
While certain tasks for these teams may take place at specific times of the year, the overall responsibilities are ongoing. Each team should plan a year- long, or perhaps multiple-year, strategy to accomplish its goals. For example, the Legacy Gifts Team can develop a plan for inviting legacy gifts and regularly reviewing policies. The Finance Team can create processes for sharing reports, reviewing financial status, and acknowledging the generosity of congregational members. Along with overseeing the annual stewardship emphasis, the Stewardship Team can develop educational and communications strategies that uplift the importance of faithful generosity all year long.
Don’t Function in Silos
While each team has specific tasks and responsibilities, they need to see themselves as complementary components of the congregation’s comprehensive stewardship ministry. Teams should regularly communicate with each other to develop shared understandings and to work effectively and efficiently to best serve the church.
Concepts are Key
If your congregation is small (or maybe not so small!), the idea of creating and maintaining three teams for stewardship ministry may seem overwhelming. Create a structure that fits your situation and encompasses all the responsibilities of the teams suggested. Paying attention to all three will strengthen your congregation’s vitality by:
- claiming Christian stewardship is discipleship: how we live our lives in response to God’s bounteous grace;
- naming giving as an essential part of our life as Christian stewards: meant to be practiced generously and joyfully;
- celebrating God’s abundance as our opportunity to be channels through which God’s generosity can flow and God’s love can be shared.
Marcia Shetler was the former Executive Director/CEO of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center.
Giving Magazine was a premier stewardship resource published by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center (ESC) from 1999 until 2020. The magazine served Christian faith communities throughout North America, providing thoughtful, practical, and inspirational content on faith and giving from thought leaders and practitioners alike. Giving was published annually from 1999 until 2018 (volumes 1-20), and then quarterly in 2019 and 2020 (volumes 21-28) in digital form only. In 2021 ESC closed its doors and committed its archives to the care of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving. For further information on ESC or its archives, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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