I’d like to share a few thoughts and then refer you to several resources that go into some detail regarding starting and maintaining a stewardship ministry.
1. Understand the importance. There are thousands of verses about money in the bible. Jesus talked about it more than any other topic except the Kingdom of God. Money is the chief rival god in many of our people’s lives. Materialism mimics a competing theological construct with its gospel (good news) that “Things bring happiness” and its god of money – the “almighty dollar” with its promise of security.
At stake is whom do we serve? (Matt 6:21); where is our heart? (Matt. 6:24); and to where will our love of money lead? (1Tim.6:10).
We must grow in our understanding of how deeply interrelated our relationship to our money is to our relationship to God.
2. Have pure motives. The purpose of a stewardship ministry is not to get people to give more money to the church! People need to know what we want for them before they hear what we want from them. What we want for them is joy, peace and freedom in an area of their life where those attributes are seldom found.
When a stewardship ministry succeeds in helping people understand a biblical perspective on their material resources and equips them to integrate those principles into their lives, giving will increase – sometimes dramatically. But that is a secondary outcome of the ministry as opposed to its purpose.
3. Stress that the ministry is for everyone. Perception can often be that this is a ministry just for folks in deep financial difficulty (and who wants to admit that?). Wealthy or poor, folks often have very little knowledge of a biblical perspective on earning, giving, saving, debt and lifestyle. And one can have a very large income stream and be a very poor manager of their financial resources. Stewardship ministry is for everyone!
4. Understand the ministry is more than just a workshop a couple times a year. A strong and mature stewardship ministry will teach Financial Literacy that offer a broad range of offerings such as preparing for later life, raising children to be good stewards, dealing with consumer debt, spending wisely, being prepared for one’s death and a host of other possible topics.
The strong ministry also has a trained cadre of budget counselors who can meet personally with folks who are attempting to change their financial behavior but need support and encouragement in doing so.
5. Find the person with a passion to lead the ministry. My experience tells me there are those in every congregation who have a passion and the gifts for this kind of ministry. Good theology says so, too! But because of the average church’s silence on the topic, those folks just never dreamed there was a place for their passion and gifts to be exercised. Sound the call and they will respond!