Grab the Bull By the Horns: 5 Ways to Do It
Quick question for you clergy folk out there: What grade did you get in your “Stewardship 101” class? What? Never took a class like that in seminary? I am shocked, utterly shocked. In between studying eschatology, ecclesiology, and Ephesianology (that’s a very specialized course) – you never learned anything about development or stewardship? Oops.
It’s no wonder that the whole notion of having to raise money to fund your invaluable ministry is a mystery – and maybe even be a bit distasteful. And those new-to-the-faith people who are coming in – they don’t know about the offering plate and why they should even give to your church. It’s just not right. So, what’s a clergy person to do? What’s a layperson to do who wants to help the church grow?
1. Become informed. Consider it continuing education to keep your ministry moving in the right direction. Read books on development, sign-up for a stewardship webinar, subscribe to fundraising e-newsletters. You can’t be expected to do what you don’t know. Even better than being informed, become an expert.
2. Get over your discomfort. I know that sounds harsh – but really, get over it. If you feel uncomfortable bringing up the word “money” people in the pews will catch on pretty quickly that they should feel funny about money too. And this whole notion that it’s embarrassing to ask for money for your salary? For heaven’s sake, you are doing ministry…you aren’t sitting around watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or playing Farmville on your phone. You are assisting your congregation in becoming “disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (that sounds so vaguely familiar).
3. Brag. If you can find anything at all that your congregation is doing well – jump on it and highlight it. People want to feel like they are doing God’s mission in the world and that their dollars are going somewhere meaningful.
4. Tell stories. Jesus told them all the time – and they apparently worked themselves into a best seller. Surely you can start telling more stories of lives changed, the impact of the denomination in the world, or how your life has been transformed because of your time within and beyond the church walls.
5. Thank people. A simple “thank you” either verbally or in writing goes a long way. Don’t over think it. Just do it.
Seminary might not have given you all the tools you need to do ministry – but then again what graduate program does? Now it’s up to you to take time, enlist your laity to “get back to school,” and help get God’s work done in the world. Really, grab that bull by the horns.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.