The Parish Stewardship Program: An Overview, Part II

The Parish Stewardship Program: An Overview, Part II

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AN INSPIRATIONAL BUDGET

A budget is an expression of the vision of the parish – its priorities, concerns and plans for the future. Members who see a church doing more than “paying the bills” will be inspired by the vision of a church that seeks to serve its parishioners, neighbors and people in need throughout the world. The parish might consider budget line-items for Charitable Programs, Missions, Outreach, Youth Worker training, Adult Education, Educational Outreach Materials and more. Though some may balk at this extra burden on the budget, others will be inspired by the vision of a parish interested in improving and adding to its ministries.

AVOID “SINKING SHIP” COMMUNICATION

“Our parish’s financial condition has weakened…. Our annual income has decreased, while our operating expenses continue to increase.” “…the situation has not improved.” “…the parish is in financial decline and we must take drastic corrective action.”

In his book, Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church, Kennon Callahan offers the following advice: “When you describe your church as a sinking ship, you will reach fewer people and raise less money. To be sure, you will raise a little money – just enough money to delude yourself that the sinking-ship approach works. When you focus on God’s mission, you will reach more people; you will raise the money for the mission. God’s mission is a winning cause, not a sinking ship.” In the same book Callahan also writes, “Money follows mission, not the reverse. This is a shorthand way of saying that the stronger the congregation’s relational characteristics, the easier it is to raise money. The stronger the congregation’s mission, visitation, worship, groupings, leadership, and decision-making, the stronger the giving.”

STEWARDSHIP AND THE PARISH PRIEST

The foremost purpose of the Steward’s offering of time, talents, and treasures is to support, maintain and grow the spirituality and mission activity of the parish. This requires that the Stewardship Committee work closely with the Parish Priest.

The success of the Orthodox Christian Stewardship Program may be directly attributed to the spiritual leadership of the Priest working together with the dedicated Stewardship Committee and Parish Council members. It is suggested that the message of Stewardship be woven into the Priest’s sermons, pulpit announcements, and the parish print and electronic media. Statistics have shown that if the Priest does not preach convincingly and project regularly the concept of Stewardship of time, talent and treasure, the program will not be successful. The Priest has the spiritual responsibility to teach Stewardship, which is the Christian understanding of all that we possess – time, talent and treasure.

CLARIFY YOUR PARISH MISSION AND VISION

In the words of Fr. William Chiganos, of blessed memory, “…people don’t give to need; they give to vision…. Church people don’t stretch their giving because of need to meet the budget; they give more because they are able to see a vision of people being reached and God’s purposes being accomplished in the life of the church and its ministry.” Ministry evaluation and planning can help leadership to clarify your Parish mission and vision. Contact the Dept of Stewardship, Outreach & Evangelism for assistance.

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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