Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish - ICSC presentation 2006: PDF
Today more than ever there is a great need to strengthen our parishes as they, in turn, serve as a vital source of support to the communities. The heartbeat of our Church can be found in our parishes. The parish is the single most important unit of the Church.
It is in the parish that people and families become part of a worshipping and serving community. The parish is where they find faith and are encouraged to live their faith.
The purpose of the Parish Stewardship Ministry is to form parish members in an understanding and practice of true Scriptural self-giving, to develop them as great givers, and to enable and expand the mission of the parish. For most people, this is a lifelong step-by-step journey. This is the ministry of stewardship as it relates to individual persons.
The Stewardship Ministry provides an opportunity each year to express thanks to the parish community for their generosity throughout the previous year and to invite even greater self-giving in the year to come. This enables the many current ministries of the parish to be sustained and provides for expansion into new ministry areas - most often through increased staff or additional programming.
The Time and Talent portion of the Stewardship Ministry is very important. It is recommended that the Time and Talent program be conducted either later in the fall or in the late spring. This will enable a parish a separate opportunity to teach about self-giving in the context of our time and talent.
Stewardship provides an opportunity for each of us to consider our level of involvement and self-giving to our parish and community in light of how God has blessed us.
The Parish Stewardship Ministry is the most important foundation to a comprehensive effort. The other elements may include the parish offertory, Bishop's Annual Appeal, Planned Giving and capital campaigns. When a parish has a school, this presents another important dimension of a comprehensive plan.
It is much more likely to develop great giving when a parish does a good job in two other key areas: planning and communications. Planning is important because it creates a clear vision and action plan for the parish. This becomes the basis for the appeal's case for support. This answers the why question - why does the parish need more money? It is also important because it often translates to improved ministry - which affects the level of giving. Of course, it works the other way as well - increased giving enables ministry to be improved. Finally, the very process of planning is valuable to stewardship. Studies have shown that when people feel informed and involved in the directions-setting process of an organization, they are much more likely to give of themselves.
Automated/Electronic Giving is a great way to stabilize the parish's cash flow and increase offertory.