By Bruce Barkhauer, Center for Faith and Giving
There is no time like the present to be thinking about your fall annual campaign! The typical campaign takes six weeks to organize and prepare – with extra time needed if you are going to employ tools such as narrative style budgets for interpreting your mission or utilize technology for receiving commitments and/or funds from your donors. And while you may think of the stewardship campaign as “old fashioned”, there are many reasons to continue this time-honored tradition.
First, research continues to show that congregations that engage in intentional annual campaigns can expect to receive up to 2 ½ times more resources than congregations that don’t follow this simple practice. That might be motivation enough – but there are many reasons better than this. Read on!
Second, it is a chance to tell your church’s unique and particularly amazing story of how God is using your people in your town to do remarkable ministry. The campaign is not, after all, about raising a budget – it is about resourcing mission – the work that God has called your church to do. Narrative style budgets are great tools for helping you get the connection between the offering plate and ministry.
Third, campaigns bring people together around a common cause, for the common good. It is a great time to come together and celebrate the community you call a congregation and to encourage each other and the faith you have Jesus Christ. Concerts, fellowship suppers, or any event that brings people together are good practices for keeping us connected and reminding us of our shared purpose.
Fourth, the annual campaign gives us a moment to think about our blessings and the abundance of God’s provision. Even in times when we aren’t feeling too filled to over-flowing, there is the promise that God uses us to provide for each other through the generous act of sharing. Whether giving or receiving, we experience blessing beyond what we might otherwise imagine.
Fifth, when we are talking about resources, we have chance to examine our own relationship with our stuff and to think about our spiritual disciplines. Money is a spiritual issue and the bible actually has a lot to say about it and how we use it (and how not to get used by it)! It is an opportunity for study and growth.
Sixth, the conversation that begins with the word “stewardship” invites us to consider how stewardship is actually about more than money. We are managers and care-takers of more than just fiduciary matters – we care for the gospel by sharing it; we care for the earth by protecting it; we care for ourselves by resting our bodies and exercising our spiritual gifts. All of this is stewardship – and the annual campaign can be the start of something powerful for your congregation.
Don’t miss the opportunity. For help with organizing your fall campaign, visit the Center for Faith and Giving.
For a deep dive into stewardship, look at the new study document issued at the 2017 General Assembly.