Kids are back in school and church committees are once again getting fired up. Your Stewardship Committee is about to meet to plan the campaign and the conversation will go something like this:
What do you wanna do this year?
I dunno, what do you wanna do this year?
Last year seemed to work.
Yep, wanna do the same thing again?
Great, meeting adjourned.
It actually sounds like a dorm full of college sophomores trying to figure out what to do on a Friday night, doesn’t it?
One option is to get an off the shelf campaign package. They may cost a few bucks, but they are tried and true and are particularly helpful for the committee having the above conversation.
- Herb Miller’s New Consecration Sunday isn’t all that new anymore but it is still quite popular and effective. I used it last spring at a church and the saw an 18% increase in giving over the previous year.
- Neil Orchard’s Linear Giving is pretty steep at $270 but has some great strategies to increase giving.
- I’m a huge fan of Reverend Adam Hamilton. He has adjusted his book Enough to make it a stewardship program. I have not reviewed it personally but I’ve loved everything else he has done and have great respect for Reverend Dr. Clayton Smith, his Executive Pastor of Generosity.
If you don’t want to go with one of these (or the dozens of others that are out there), feel free to design your own, but follow some basic guidelines.
Make sure you approach money and stewardship with a Biblical Foundation. Jesus talked about money an awful lot, he talked about rich people, poor people, giving it, hoarding it and even paying taxes. Use one of these familiar passages as a campaign theme.
Reach both the left and right-brained people. There are those in your church who want to hear about missions and changing lives. Others want to hear about your good fiscal management and balancing the budget. We need to realize that both sides are very legitimate and worthy of being addressed.
The pastor must be the voice, but not the only voice. The pastor must be the face of the campaign as the leader of the church. But enlist others to tell the story of how the church is at work in their lives.
Emphasize how the money will be used to change lives and the community. Don’t tell them you need a new copier, tell them how that copier will do Kingdom work.
Ask for a commitment card. Feel more comfortable with an estimate of giving card, pledge card or some other name? That’s fine, but if you can get that number down in writing you will be far better off.
Preach about stewardship, and do it before they fill out the pledge card. Effective pastors often spend as much as a month before Commitment Sunday talking about money and ministry. If you only do one sermon on the topic and it comes right after the cards are turned in, you won’t be doing any good.
Follow up with those who have not pledged. A follow-up letter or phone call not only helps to facilitate the process of getting the card filled out, but it adds clout to the process. If you let a giver go a year without pledging, you may be sending the message that his or her gift is not important, or more tragically, that this person is no longer important to the church.
Finally, announce the results of the campaign and celebrate what God and your generous members have made possible for the coming year.