You’ve tried sermons. Sermon series. Special offerings. The “ask.” Finance committees. Stewardship campaigns. And none of it seems effective at truly making biblical stewardship part of your church’s culture. Talk about frustrating!
Here’s the thing, though: Stewardship—understanding that God owns it all, and we are called to be managers of His blessings His way for His glory—isn’t a once-and-done endeavor. It’s also not entirely about tithing, giving or your church’s budget either.
Though those things are important, stewardship can’t become woven throughout your church’s culture until you embrace it as multifaceted, holistic and ongoing. It has to be more about your members’ well-being than your church’s bottom line, and it only comes through true heart change.
That means no single thing is going to effectively teach stewardship. You have to use a variety of methods and ministries to ensure stewardship reaches every heart.
That being said, there are lots of engaging and effective ways your church can participate in the stewardship conversation, and fall is the perfect time to start. Set your people up for a successful Christmas (when a lot of people go into debt) and New Year (when a lot of people are looking to take charge of their money) now. And give them the margin to be generous when it comes to year-end giving. Maybe your members need a fresh illustration, a new perspective or ongoing education. Here are three methods to consider:
1. Add some twists to tithes and offerings
A generous heart is always part of the stewardship conversation. If you’re having trouble cultivating generosity, try some of these creative twists on tithes and offerings.
The 90-Day Challenge. Put Malachi 3:10 into practice and encourage non-tithers to test God by tithing for 90 days. If they don’t see God prove faithful in that time, promise a 100% refund.
A Reverse Offering. Instead of taking in money, the church distributes cash to members and tasks them with blessing someone in need. Members bring back great giving stories and learn what it feels like to make a difference in someone’s life.
The Dollar Club. At Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Pastor Pete Wilson takes a once-monthly, separate offering of $1 and uses it to perform a random act of generosity in town. They film the act, show the church the following week, and demonstrate what a difference every dollar makes.
Related: Pete Wilson on Developing Stewards
2. Start a stewardship ministry
You might be wondering what qualifies this as “creative,” but we bet you may have never witnessed the kind of comprehensive, church-wide, holistic stewardship ministry we’re talking about. Historically, “stewardship ministry” has meant the finance, budget or fundraising committee. Visualize taking it to another level. Create a ministry that partners with every other ministry in your church because, really, stewardship applies to every area of our lives.
Build a collection of resources, classes, curricula and other helpful tools that can teach your church members to biblically steward any situation life throws at them. You might even consider finding someone in your church (a lay leader or staff member) who could serve as a financial coach to provide free, biblical guidance to church members in all kinds of financial situations.
Momentum, a church-wide journey to understanding biblical stewardship, might also fit into your stewardship ministry. The workshop teaches church leaders how to give their entire congregation a greater understanding of generosity, biblical finances and holistic stewardship.
3. Give a stewardship sermon series this fall
Fall is the perfect time to reintroduce the idea of biblical stewardship. People are returning from vacations, resetting their routines, and taking hard looks at their budgets after a summer of spending. A Sunday sermon series is a great way to reach as much of your church as possible since people attend church on Sundays even if they aren’t active in the church body in any other way. Check out some great sermons on money and stewardship here.
4. Spend a Sunday serving in the community
If your church is stewarding its own finances well, you might not be absolutely dependent on weekly tithes and offerings to keep the doors open. This creates the opportunity to have an occasional “Sunday of service,” where, rather than hold worship services, your church goes into the community to be the hands and feet of Jesus, serving others. Bonus: Since stewardship is about more than finances, this teaches the great lesson that biblical money management creates margin to be a more generous steward in other areas of our lives—like our time, our gifts and other resources.
Remember, stewardship doesn’t become a part of your church’s culture overnight or after one quick program, ministry or event. It’ll take some creativity and time, but with patience, persistence, and a heart that’s in the right place, you can lead your church there.