What has triggered your desire to hold a stewardship renewal? Do you have a particular project or vision in mind, or do you need to increase your income in order to balance the church books?
There are three prongs to successful stewardship: mission, serving the community and teaching the congregation.
The success of an appeal for funding for a particular project will often depend on the extent to which you are serving the community (if the church closed tomorrow, what would people shout about?). And if the church is seen to be contributing to the community, then it is more likely that a Friends group might be motivated to oversee its fabric costs. But a series of appeals to the community for funds to make up an ongoing shortfall is unlikely to be successful. The day-to-day costs of your church's mission and ministry should be met by your regular congregation.
Clearly, this depends on both the number and the generosity of your church members. If numbers are in theory large enough, but current giving is in practice not sufficient to meet costs, then you will need to prepare for your stewardship renewal with a period (e.g. three months) of prayer and teaching the congregation. Teaching may include small group study as well as preaching. In essence, you need your congregation to understand that:
|We are not asked to give to the vicar or even to the church. We
are asked to give to God. We know that everything we have comes to us
from God. We give out of thankfulness to God for all that we have,
and because we want what we have to be used in his service.
Based on what St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8+9, the Church recommends that EVERY member should give REGULARLY and CHEERFULLY, having PLANNED to give a realistic PROPORTION of our income.
Scripture teaches that we should tithe 10% of our income to God, and make occasional other offerings, too. The Church of England suggests that we should at least work towards giving 5% of our post-tax income to the Church, in addition to what we give to other good causes.
We all have different circumstances. Nobody else can tell us how much we should give. We all need to make prayerful decisions about our own priorities and make our own choices.
A church whose members give generously can put all of its energy into activities that will build God's kingdom and grow the church, without having to be distracted by constant fundraising.
Against the background of several weeks of prayer and teaching about stewardship, this message can be reinforced in your stewardship renewal literature. A church's financial problems are unlikely to be solved until its congregation has a Biblical understanding of our giving to God.
If your congregation is simply too small to meet your church's costs, then your immediate priority will need to be mission rather than money. For this, you will need a clear vision for your church, and your congregation may need outside help and encouragement to develop and act upon that vision. Although a financial crisis may be what's motivating a church, its financial concerns may need to be put to one side while it focuses on mission and growth - and it may need considerable support while it goes through that process.
In fact, whatever your immediate focus (outreach and communication, prayer and teaching, or mission and growth), a successful stewardship renewal will depend on your having a clear vision for your church. What is your church all about? Why would anyone else want to join it? People give much more readily to a positive appeal for a specific project or vision than they do to a plea for funding to meet a church's ongoing needs.
If your church is failing to meet its day-to-day costs, then in preparation for a stewardship renewal you may need to:
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