Stewardship in Action
January 2014
The New Year's Resolution All Christians Should Make
A Letter from Denis 
Denis Greene

Just a few short weeks ago many of us were sweeping up pine needles from the living room floor, putting away decorations, or wishing we hadn't enjoyed the bounty of holiday food as much as we did. Many of us also were either writing down or thinking up what we should do differently in 2014.

       Lists of resolutions abound in all of our lives. They are a great way to take stock of ourselves, and to establish a measurement of accomplishment that can be pulled out and reviewed when this year comes to a close 11 months from now.

       Yet, there is one resolution many of us fail to consider.

       According to a new study by the Barna Group, shockingly few Christians surveyed put getting closer to God as a resolution. Those who did - only 9 out of more than 1,000 survey respondents - did so in terms of naming an activity undertaken for God rather than a personal pursuit or experience with God.

       Yes, activities are tangible measurements. They have a time, a place, and a result, whether it is giving our time and sweat, or our donations and insight. Still, what could be a more important and fulfilling accomplishment in our lives than to experience God, whether that be for the first time, or on a deeper level?

        So let's challenge ourselves in 2014, and make our first resolution to become closer to God.

 

In Christ,

 

Denis Greene

President

Church Development

denis@church-development.com

Church Development News
Personnel changes to better meet your needs

Darryl Prater has been named Consultant Manager. Along with his own consulting work, Darryl will oversee overall consultant work-flow, training, mentoring and coaching. In addition, Darryl will offer support through monthly consultant check-ins, as well as maintain relationships with all Church Development clients.  

 

Nick Disidore is moving to our sales department after serving as one of our consultants for the past six months. We are very excited for Nick as he assumes the role of salesman for the Kansas City, Kansas, Diocese and beyond. Over the past 25 years, Nick has built many relationships in that diocese, so this is a real opportunity for him to promote Church Development. 

Success Story

St. John Francis Regis Parish, Kansas City, MO 

St. Regis

Scaling the face of El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park was easier for Father Sean McCaffery than taking on a new parish after the departure of a well loved pastor, and a 30 percent decline in pledges. Before entering the priesthood, Father McCaffery had a fruitful career and many adventures, including mountain climbing, but they did not prepare him for the challenges he faced at St. John Francis Regis Parish in Kansas City, Missouri. Declining church revenue mirrored the sharp drop in local property values, and a parish school with a great reputation but falling attendance greeted him on his first day at the job. 

       Undaunted, Father McCaffery started with a quick prayer, and marshaled all his resources and experiences to overcome the obstacle at hand. His first action was to form a Stewardship Committee and begin regular year-round meetings. Second, he took the StewardshipSystem.org materials and tailored the plan to fit the parish calendar. Following the trail set out by the Wichita, Kansas diocese, he deployed lay speakers at all masses to tell their inspiring stewardship stories.

       The parish staff created an annual report that clearly showed everyone where their donations had gone, and the compelling human impact of their generosity. Stewardship prayer was set as the centerpiece of the annual parish-wide campaign. This included a time of prayer and discernment in which all members were guided to reflect on God's blessings, and how each of them might respond. Finally, the annual campaign commitment Sunday was a celebration in gratitude of the many blessings within St. John Francis Regis parish, with an awareness of, but no pressure, to pledge. 

       The results were immediate. The amount pledged that first commitment Sunday was an increase of 51 percent, and the number of people who did pledge jumped by 54 percent.

       It looked good to Father McCaffery, but he wasn't sure until he called Church Development to thank them for use of the StewardshipSystem.org materials and report the results. "Was it a good success?" he asked. "No, that isn't good,' Denis Greene said. "It's great. You didn't climb El Capitan, you summited Mount Everest."

       The material Father McCaffery used for the success, were based on research conducted by Villanova and presented in the book "Why Catholics Don't Give"; the Wichita, Kansas Diocese; corporate research in the book "Good to Great"; marketing research presented in "Made to Stick"; and from research on parish stewardship efforts by Church Stewardship System logo Development. All of the materials are featured on our  Stewardship System website, www.stewardshipsystem.org.

       What's next for Father McCaffery? He's using the momentum to implement a web based volunteer management system to organize every parishioner activity and, create "episodic volunteer opportunities" for parishioners who are marginally involved.

Hillsong United: "Oceans" at Relevant Studio
From our Stewardship Blog

If there are two main magazines I recommend Protestant churches keep up with, it's Christianity Today and  Relevant. The latter has a great pulse on what younger Christians are into, music included. They have their own studio sessions of popular songs. Today's pick is "Oceans (Where Feet May Fall)" by Hillsong United:

  watch the video   

Teaching to Succeed
A Tip from the Stewardship System

The No. 1 reason most churches fail at Stewardship is because their leadership does not teach the tenants of being a good steward in a systematic manner. Typically, it's a subject that only comes up once a year, during the annual fundraiser.

      With one lesson, once a year, it's hardly a surprise that members fail to grasp the understanding, let alone embrace, Stewardship. Like advertising, it's a question of frequency and reach. More people hearing the message more often will eventually lead to understanding and acceptance.

      What's the message? Simple: being a good steward means that you deliberately seek the best and highest use of the resources with which God has blessed you.

      The greatest Stewardship teacher of all time was Jesus. The Gospels speak of His profound concern that His followers understand the importance of stewardship. Everything from Matthew 6:19-21 (Where is your treasure?) to Luke 12:13-21 (The Rich Fool, beware of greed.) touch on being a good steward.

       By implementing Stewardship education over the past 20 years, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita increased its average annual giving levels from 1.2 percent of income to 2.4 percent of income.

      But don't get stuck on the name: Stewardship. Keep in mind, that the words used in framing the idea of value issues should be generationally targeted. One of the largest Methodist churches in the nation - Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park, Kan. - no longer talks about tithing or Stewardship. They use the term "generosity."

       Tithing is a concept that appeals to the Greatest Generation, while Stewardship appeals to the Baby Boomers. Generosity rings with those under the age of 45. In the past five years, Church of the Resurrection has attracted over 5,000 new families, most of them in the age range of 25 to 45. By focusing on the theme of "generosity", the church seen giving increase from $10 million in 2005, to more than $20 million in 2013.

 

(For more tips on how to teach successful Stewardship visit the Stewardship System website.)

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