The New Year's
Resolution All Christians Should Make
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.
Personnel changes to
better meet your needs
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
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.
St. John Francis
Regis Parish, Kansas City, MO
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
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
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:
Tip from the Stewardship
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
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