How to Create Your Stewardship Language and Why You Need To
How does your church talk about money and giving?
More to the point, what does your church believe about stewardship and generosity?
Growing a culture of giving and generosity requires your church to have a common stewardship language.
Money is tangled up in a person’s sense of identity and self-worth. Culturally, money is connected to power, influence, ownership, position, relationships, personal identity and more. Such issues are deep matters! A shallow understanding of stewardship, or a multitude of undefined ideas that spill all over the map, will not meaningfully speak to what people actually wrestle with in their lives and in their hearts. To talk about difficult (and sometimes painful) money issues, we need to dive deeply -- openly and honestly unpacking our money baggage.
Each church should invest time, energy, and prayer developing their own stewardship language. The church must figure out what it believes before it can help people understand stewardship as a primary tenet of discipleship. If your church has no clear language for stewardship, how will you teach about God’s call to be generous? If your church cannot express what it believes about stewardship, how will your people grow to be good stewards?
Most churches have (well) spent tons of time developing a mission statement to express who they are, what they believe, and what their purpose is. Has your church devoted any time to creating a stewardship statement?
Stewardship statements create a common language for conversations about giving.
Start your conversation with these 11 great questions:
- What does the church believe about stewardship (biblically, practically, individually, and corporately)?
- How might the church define good stewardship to a person who is new in faith?
- Does the church understand stewardship as a shared calling, a nice habit, a private duty, a conversion experience (see the Zaccheus story), or something else?
- Why give? Who or what am I giving to? What is the purpose of giving?
- Is giving characterized by honoring, loving, cheerfulness, generosity, tithing, my all, sacrifice, habit, ownership, discipline, gratefulness, duty, dedication, grace, joy, blessing, or something else?
- Does the church intentionally and consistently create opportunities to preach and teach about stewardship, or is preaching about money taboo?
- Does church staff model good stewardship?
- Could church members describe what the church believes about stewardship? Is there a common understanding of what it means to be God's steward?
- Are (lay) church leaders expected to practice what the church believes about stewardship?
- How does the church intentionally teach new members about its stewardship beliefs and expectations?
- Does your church, as an organization, practice and exemplify good stewardship?
Stewardship has no single prescribed definition. Through study and reflection, you will discover your church’s particular stewardship language. By engaging in an intentional, thoughtful, and honest conversation about stewardship, you will discover God’s call to be good stewards in your context. Seek and you will find. This first discernment step is critical for any path towards real change.
To begin, gather your leadership and reflect on three questions:
- What do I believe about stewardship?
- What do we believe together about stewardship?
- How will we practice and talk about stewardship as a church community?
Take the challenge. Start by having an open and reflective conversation with your leadership about stewardship. Work out what you believe, and determine how you intend to practice good stewardship. Create a sermon series to share your stewardship language with the congregation. Involve the entire congregation in a similar study to deepen their knowledge and understanding.
If you are interested in receiving a stewardship statement template, reply to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if your church works through the process of creating a stewardship statement, send it to email@example.com. We will pass along what we learn from all of you in a future post.