After listening to a large group of pastors, and trying to understand what churches need to assist them in budgeting and raising money, I decided that a simple approach to stewardship might be beneficial.
- Work out next year’s budget sometime in the summer. Budget presentation needs to have a weekly amount needed.
- If your church has a Stewardship Committee, by all means, use them. If not, use the Finance Committee and ask for volunteers.
- Have this group meet with you (the pastor) in August. Discuss what parts of this plan you are going to use, then assign people to do the different tasks.
Tasks to do:
- Ask the Financial Secretary to make a chart of donors. Start with zero and work up to highest giver. Do not put names – just dots or x’s. It will surprise you how many give zero to the church. Send this chart in your first mailing and it will explain why you need a Stewardship Program.
- Pastors should write the first letter explaining the details and dates of this program. Be sure to include the chart from the Financial Secretary in the letter.
- From the pulpit, announce the schedule of events. Ask some of your best givers to talk for two to three minutes about giving and why they give. Schedule these speakers two or three times a month. Pick a date when pledge cards will be collected. This should be in late October or early November. I would suggest you invite another preacher to preach this sermon or do it yourself. This could be Pulpit Swap with a neighboring church.
- Two weeks after the first letter goes out, send a second letter. Ask your Chairperson of Finance, Stewardship Chair or Lay Leader to write this letter..
- Create another Chart. This Chart would have one column titled “What you Give to church now per week. I’d start at $10 per week and increase it by $10 each week, up to $200 per week. The second column would be what 1% would be. Example – $10 per week – 1% would be $10.10 per week. The third column would be the same thing but it would be 2% per week. Example – $10 per week – $10.20 per week. A one percent or two percent increase is probably enough. The top end of the chart would look like $200 per week – 1% – $202 per week and $204 for 2%. This second chart should go in the second letter. This letter could have more than a 2% increase. Be creative. You know your people.
- The third letter should be mailed two or three weeks after the second letter and it should either be written by finance people or Lay Leader. This letter should include a copy of the proposed budget with a Pledge Card. Pledge Card should be simple and simply have name, address, amount per week that they pledge to the budget.
- There could easily be another letter, depending on how many weeks you allowed. Letter should all be simple and short.
- Pledge Sunday should be a big deal. The sermon would be about tithing and giving, as well as how it takes every one of us to make a budget a reality. Pledge cards should be placed in the Sunday bulletin. I’d ask families to bring their Pledge Card and place it in baskets at the front of the church during the singing of the last hymn. I’d schedule a Covered Dish Dinner after church and have counters give a total of Pledge Cards and Amount Pledged and announce it at the end of the dinner.
- If budget is met, I wouldn’t do a thing but celebrate. If it is not, I’d send another letter and pledge card to each Giving Unit that did not respond, as well as a thank you for those that did not turn in a pledge card.
- This may sound simple and it is intended to be that way. I’d place a thermometer in a highly visible place with both the needed amount and the amount pledged until the thermometer reaches the level the budget requires.
- It’s amazing how easy meeting a budget would be if everyone would increase their giving by 1%, 2% or more. These numbers wouldn’t be so large that they would hurt anyone. The charts will take some time to create but they will help in many ways. You don’t want to embarrass anyone, but it does congregants good to see where everyone gives. It is often exciting to say “I can do that much!”
- This program could be called “Grow 1% or Grow 2%” or you could come up with your own name. (Be creative!)
Things to remember:
- Never use anyone’s name!
- Make sure that whoever sees the Pledge Cards never (ever) gives any information to anyone, except the preacher.
- Pick a schedule and stick to it.
- Schedule speakers two or three weeks apart.
- Make Pledge Sunday a time of celebration.
Author: Tommy Herndon