A newsletter message written for St. David's Episcopal Church, Kinnelon, NJ
Later this month we’ll be launching our annual financial Stewardship Campaign. One of the things that I love about how we do things here at St. David’s, is that we have two major Stewardship Campaigns every year: one in the spring for Time & Talent, and one in the fall for Financial Stewardship. Even between these major campaigns, the Stewardship Commission is meeting regularly throughout the year to plan the campaigns, along with a host of other smaller events related to our common stewardship of the resources with which we’ve been entrusted. This means that for the people of St. David’s, stewardship isn’t just something we think about once each year, or even episodically a couple of times each year, but it’s a principle focus of our ministry day in and day out.
When people hear the word “stewardship” in churches, we very often replace it in our minds (even if only subconsciously) with the word “fundraising”. While it is true that making sure we collect enough money to continue our ministries is an aspect of stewardship, it’s only one aspect among many. The real focus of stewardship, as a concept, is about taking care of the gifts and blessings we have inherited from the generations of faithful people who have come before us, both in this parish, but also in Christianity more broadly. It’s not merely about making sure we have enough warm bodies to accomplish tasks and enough cash to pay bills, but about making sure that we have the capacity to keep doing and supporting the important ministries of this church and to keep answering our collective calling as Christians.
As you read and hear about financial stewardship at St. David’s in the coming weeks, try to remember that this isn’t like the kind of pledge drive like you hear about on public radio or television. It’s not fundraising like the bell-ringers and kettles you find at Christmas time, or Girl Scout cookies, or Boy Scout popcorn. While you may choose to support those projects and campaigns, they are fundamentally different from participating in the ministries of the church and living good stewardship in the church. While we, like all those other campaigns, have fundraising goals, the real goal of stewardship is changing lives: the lives of the people we serve through our ministries, but also the lives of the people who worship and serve in our church. It’s about bringing people – both ourselves and those we serve – closer to God through Christ. It takes money. And it takes people’s time and talent. But most of all, it takes a mind set on stewardship.