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Though much of this section deals with the mechanics of implementing a stewardship program and the administration of the financial aspect of stewardship, we should not forget that Stewardship is a holistic concept involving the entire person. It is for this reason that the stewardship commitment card asks for the commitment of time, talent and treasure.
Under the spiritual guidance of your parish priest…
- Meditate on the National Ministries theme;
- Form your Parish Stewardship Team early;
- Build your team of people blessed with a variety of gifts, training and experience;
- Keep the Parish Council informed and active in promoting Stewardship;
- Coordinate communications focusing on stewardship throughout the year;
- Train and encourage team members in outreach and welcoming ministry; and
- Focus on Stewardship of Time, Talent, and Treasure – know the gifts & talents of your people.
“The most basic task of the Church leader is to discern the spiritual gifts of all those under his authority, and to encourage those gifts to be used to the full for the benefit of all. Only a person who can discern the gifts of others and can humbly rejoice at the flowering of those gifts is fit to lead the Church.” – Saint John Chrysostom
- Active parishioners have a sense of connection to the Church as the Body of Christ;
- Parishioners need to know that their concerns are being heard;
- Parish leaders are called to provide opportunities for the spiritual growth of parishioners; and
- Active and dedicated parishioners will want to support the church financially.
The message of Stewardship should be kept at the forefront of the congregation through regular communication throughout the year, especially at the inauguration of the Stewardship Program. Sermons, reflections, announcements, bulletins, newsletters, the Bulletin Builder Program (www.bulletin.goarch.org), the parish e-mail list (a free service of the Archdiocese) posters, banners and brochures are important components of a year-round stewardship program. Stewardship offering envelopes and the mailing of monthly/quarterly Stewardship statements to all Stewards increases the timely fulfillment of Stewardship commitments. Follow-up telephone calls are also a very effective means of connecting with our members.
Engaging our Members: Personal Visitation and Small Group Ministry
The focus of our efforts is engaging the individual member in the life of the parish. In-home visitations have proven to be a most effective approach to stewardship education and participation. It is suggested that a parish plan be developed for visiting every parishioner in their home over a feasible period of time. The visit could include prayer, a conversation outlining the vision of the parish and conveying the understanding that every person is an important part of the body of Christ. The Commitment Card should be reviewed with the individual, gathering information and encouraging them to offer their time & talents in service to the church. A financial commitment should also be encouraged. During visits with parishioners, it is imperative that team members take time to listen to the people being visited, making note of what is important to them and acknowledging their concerns.
Follow-up would include a hand-written note and/or telephone call. Parish ministry information or resources could be sent that pertain to questions or concerns raised in the conversation, as well as actions being taken by the parish to remedy their concerns. The visitation team should also confidentially inform the priest of any need for ministry to the specific needs of an individual or family.
Small group stewardship ministry is an alternative to individual home visits and is more effective than simply mailing stewardship materials. It is suggested that groups of 10 to 20 individuals be formally invited to meet in a home, the church library or fellowship room. The meeting would include prayer and a conversation outlining the vision of the parish. Team members should take time to listen to the people, discussing what is important to them and acknowledging their concerns. Follow-up would be the same as for in-home visitations.
It is Far More Important to be Interested than Interesting
In all of our meetings and conversations with members, it is far more important to be interested than interesting. Listening is more important than talking. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The focus should be on the individual’s needs, concerns, questions, ideas and suggestions. Ideas and suggestions must be heard and referred to the appropriate individual or organization with a thoughtful response indicating that they have been heard and that they will be: 1. implemented, 2. implemented at a later date, or 3 not implemented with specific reasons. Many people disengage from active participation in church life because they feel that the parish leadership is a closed group that does not respond to their ideas.
No Minimum or Maximum Commitment
All parishioners freely declare their annual commitment by submitting a Stewardship Commitment Card. The fundamental premise of Stewardship is free-will giving, with each individual giving as he or she is able in order to advance the ministries of the Church. In accordance with the principle of free-will giving, there should be no minimum or maximum Stewardship commitment.
Resources for a Year-Round Effort
The annual packet of resources is directed to parish leadership throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Every effort is made to support the parish throughout the year in utilizing these resources to personally engage parishioners in the life of the parish. Brochures, posters, indoor and outdoor banners, sample commitment card, bulletin inserts and more are provided for parish campaigns, with text and graphics included for those parishes designing their own materials based on the Archdiocesan theme. Greek language materials are available to parishes as needed. Most items are posted to the www.Stewardship.goarch.org site. Please be sure that the Department of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism has the email addresses and contact information of your Stewardship Team and priest(s).
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Resources Handbook for 2017; for more information also see Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Ministries.
As part of an on-going series on stewardship, OCN is pleased to share excerpts from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Resources Handbook for 2017. This series hopes to assist your parish Stewardship team in getting started and planning a full year of Stewardship Ministry. The handbook contains guidelines for preparation of a parish Stewardship Program, updated letters, a sample commitment card and new member card, various campaign formats and ideas for parish stewardship ministry.
Funding for news from this department is provided through the support of OCN viewers and by Leadership 100.
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