If you have heeded the plea preached by stewardship
conference leaders to “develop a year round stewardship program,”
the odds are that you are feeling a bit guilty that the year is
marching on and you have done little so far. Where do you start?
Here is one possibility.
The first thing, the very first thing to
do is pray. God may have a few suggestions for you. However,
once you have done that I suggest you begin immediately to assemble
the team. Do not pass “GO.” Do not collect $200. Recruit!
This does not mean that you immediately place an
invitation in the church newsletter or bulletin for “anyone
interested in serving on the Stewardship Committee to call (insert
name of committee chair).” Think about the skills you will
need to do the work and the members of the congregation who possess
those abilities. To assist you in that, I offer the following suggestions.
Feel free to adapt the list to meet the unique gifts and needs of
The Stewardship Committee
Recruiter – someone who can
ask others to do things. This is probably the most important member
of the group. Though the chair bears the brunt of this responsibility,
it doesn’t mean they are good at it. If you are not, try to
fill this slot first. Please note, do not settle for the “hopeless
asker” in your congregation, the person whose frequent pleas
(with whining, nagging, hopeless overtones) for volunteers and other
resources fall consistently on deaf ears. Get the person you hate
to have ask you to something because you know you’re going
to tell them yes but you always sort of like doing the job anyway.
Organizer – a person who
loves lists and calendars and who has an eye for details. They may
nag sometimes, you may tease them about being anal retentive, but
when they are on board, everyone feels a little safer and knows
the project will come off smoothly.
Desk top publisher – Look
for someone who enjoys making printed materials look attractive
and readable. (If no one comes to mind, publish this list in your
newsletter. These people will usually volunteer.)
Liturgist – an individual
who will write prayers and help plan special campaign liturgies
(like a commissioning service for campaign workers.) This role frequently
appeals to the quiet types but not always.
Witness - someone who has struggled
successfully with their own stewardship and can talk about it in
public. Potentially this is every member of the group but don’t
be surprised if it’s not.
Party Giver – Think of them
as Perle Mesta with an intimate acquaintance with prayer and offering
plates. Look for the person whose invitations have you looking forward
to their parties. They will probably have a circle of friends capable
of helping. Be prepared to sit through discussions of color schemes,
table decorations, and angst over the budget. You can also expect
to have a good time!
Creative – someone who has
ideas. They don’t have to be well organized about it, they
just need ideas. A truly great creative will look at things a little
differently than the rest of the group and may not be easily understood.
Be prepared to be patient. Hint: It helps if they are a little bit
Cheerful Workers – You need
at least two people who will cheerfully (or sort of) set up tables,
haul chairs, mount banners, copy, staple, collate, stuff envelopes,
haul trash, and generally see that the work gets done. If all you
have are thinkers who are too good to sweat, expect your grand schemes
to fall far short of their potential. These people are pure gold.
Treat them accordingly.
Once you have developed your lists of skills and
committee prospects, all you have to do is recruit them. I know,
it’s easier said than done. A recruiting call is almost identical
to an every member canvass call. The same guidelines apply. The
following are some additional suggestions that should assist you
in building an effective team.
1. Ask God for help. Pray for wisdom about identifying
committee prospects and assistance in recruiting them. Ask God to
help you issue the invitation.
2. Remember Jesus’ example. He recruited the
Twelve one at a time, face to face. Imagine what would have happened
if He had run a request for volunteers in the Temple newsletter!
3. Tell them the work is important. Most of us are
busy. Who has time for an unimportant job?
4. Tell them the work may be challenging. If it
is so easy anyone can do it, ask someone else. Remember, I’m
busy and have to be selective about commitments.
5. Tell them they have the ability to do the work
well. If they do not have the skills to do the work, you would not
have asked them to do it.
6. Be specific about the time required. If you expect
to meet for two hours each month, say so.
7. Set term limits on the commitment. People are
more willing to say “yes” if they know it’s for
a year than if they are afraid they may be stuck for life. You can
always ask them to re-enlist.
8. Be prepared to offer training opportunities.
9. Think “discernment.” And ask every
member of the committee to do the same. Look for signs of interest
in other members of the congregation. New members can be invited
to join the group any time. Ask members of the group to be attentive
to persons who express interest in you work or have skills you need.
Encourage the notion that recruitment is everyone’s job, that
great committee members help fill the pipeline with new talent.
10. Don’t be afraid to be creative. The Stewardship
Committee at St. Michael’s in Lexington, Kentucky (a fearless
group who allow me to offer opinions from time to time) sent a letter
to committee prospects modeled after one of those awful sweepstakes
announcement letters. You know, the ones that begin “You have
already won…” The prize listed in small type between
the car and television was membership on their committee.
11. Say “thank you” often and in diverse
ways. Acknowledge volunteer efforts in your newsletter. It helps
if you are specific about what they did. (Example: Thanks to Mary
Ruth for beautiful table decorations and to Billy Joe for setting
up the tables.) Personal notes of thanks help a lot, once people
get over the shock of receiving one. This may be the most important
tip. People who are appreciated enjoy their work. Committees who
are thanked can find recruits.
12. As in all things and most especially, give thanks
September, 1996 by Terry Parsons. Used with permission.