Stewardship questions for your pastor

The good folks at Luther Seminary have a great blog Stewardship for the 21st Century. In a recent post they offer some suggested questions when a local church’s Call Committee interviews a potential pastor. Lutheran churches hire their own pastors, as opposed to the United Methodist intinerant system. So these are presented as questions critical to knowing if you should hire this pastor.

Our system is different, but I think the thoughts are still valuable.

Here is their post:

The Call Committee and Stewardship
by Chick Lane, Grace Duddy and Nathan Dungan

The pastor is a key stewardship leader in the congregation. In fact, in most congregations the pastor is the key stewardship leader. When the pastor is on-board and active in the congregation’s stewardship ministry, things usually happen. When the pastor sits on the stewardship sidelines, not much usually happens.

Since this is true, it is very important for the congregation’s Call Committee to talk with prospective pastors about their personal stewardship and their experience as a stewardship leader in previous settings/calls. It is also reality that most Call Committee members, like the rest of us, find money conversations awkward at best, and often, downright terrifying.

This email will pose some questions a Call Committee might ask prospective pastors, in the hopes that having good questions to ask will lessen the level of terror at having a money conversation.

A first stewardship question a Call Committee might ask is, “In what ways have you tried to foster generosity in your previous congregations?” Follow-up questions should encourage the candidate to give specific examples, not speak in the abstract.

The second stewardship question a Call Committee might ask is, “Do you tithe?” The follow-up questions might be, “What people or circumstances have shaped your outlook about money and the role it plays in your life?” If the candidate doesn’t tithe you might ask, “Do you have a plan to grow your giving until you tithe?” As candidates answer these questions, Call Committee members can pay attention both to the content of the answer and to the tone of the answer. Is the candidate comfortable talking about money and about his/her giving journey? Does the candidate’s tone change when he/she talks about money?

A third stewardship question might be, “Tell us how you have related to the stewardship committee in your previous call.” Or, if this is a first call interview, “Tell us about stewardship experiences on your internship.” “How have you or will you prioritize issues related to stewardship relative to your other responsibilities?” What you are after here is past behaviors. These are a much better predictor of future behavior than having a candidate talk about beliefs and theories about stewardship. What has the candidate done in the past? Follow-up questions might seek greater clarity about both what the candidate has done in the past and why.

A fourth stewardship question might be, “How have you told previous congregations about your personal giving?” Again, you are exploring behavior here, not attitudes.

A fifth, and related question might be, “In your previous calls, have you known what members have given?” Follow up questions might be, “How did you find this information helpful?” If the candidate hasn’t known what people have given, you might ask, “Why did you choose not to know what members gave?”

A sixth line of questions might be, “How important is it to address issues related to stewardship beyond a fall giving campaign? If it’s important to you, what have you done or what would you do to ensure a healthy and robust dialogue exists with the congregation throughout the year?”

Other possible questions/topics:
• Describe past educational efforts/resources you have embraced to nurture people of all ages (youth and adults) in their stewardship journey.
• Is it important for clergy to be in dialogue with members about making legacy gifts to the church or other charities via their will or estate plan, and if so, how have you/will you follow through to make sure this happens?

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