Stewardship in church isn’t about money. I mean, it is. But, it’s also about far more than that.
It’s about relationship. It’s about our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other.
It’s also about thankfulness. Thankfulness to God for life and it’s many blessings, including our church community.
Last year we tried a new stewardship idea at St. Mark’s–an idea that highlighted the twin themes of relationship and thankfulness.
Our stewardship campaign looked like this:
- We told every household in the parish that they were going to get a brief visit, and that during that brief visit they would receive a gift and their pledge card. We were clear that this really didn’t need to take more than a few minutes, but almost all of the visits took much longer because those who were being visited wanted to talk and hang out for a while.
- A group of dedicated people secretly, and lovingly baked a cupcake for every man, woman, and child of the parish. They were packaged for each household.
- On the appointed day for the visits, members of the leadership of the parish fanned out over the area making deliveries and visits. They would greet the people they were visiting, they’d read Leviticus 7:11-14, and then they’d tell them that we, the people of St. Mark’s, were thankful for them and their contributions and ministries in the church–and because we were thankful for them, we had baked them each a cupcake.
- They were then asked to enjoy their cakes (!) sometime that day, and while they were enjoying their cupcakes to think of all that they had to be thankful of, and to think of what kind of “cake” they might bake in response. They were given a pledge card in the form of a cupcake, and were asked to bring it on “Cake Sunday.”
- When “Cake Sunday” arrived everyone brought their “cake” to the front of the church and laid them on the Altar. As people came forward, there were literally tears in people’s eyes. It was, honestly, a very holy moment. (For newcomers, visitors, and non-pledgers we had blank cake cards for them to write things that they were thankful for to bring up to the Altar.) And, after the service we had a huge party with lots and lots of wonderfully baked cakes!
Here’s what I learned from this:
- Personal touch is key. People loved the feeling that people took time to bake them something, and to deliver it to them. They felt loved, because they were.
- The tie-in of thankfulness to giving/ offering was enlightening to people. We weren’t asking them to give out of their guilt, or because the electric bills are getting higher. We were asking them to give because they had been given so much, so much to be thankful for.
- And, stewardship doesn’t have to be scary or boring. It can be fun. A lot of fun. A lot of yummy sticky fun. Even the kids of the parish enjoyed stewardship season this year!
Was it the “most successful” stewardship drive St. Mark’s had had in several years? Yes.
In every sense.