Let's pretend that you are a pastor heading off to your new congregation. You have a lot on your plate, lots of knowledge to take in. You also want to set your congregation up to be – or continue to be – joyfully generous.
What's a pastor to do? Glad you asked.
1. Learn the founding story of your congregation. It's easy (and natural) to look at what's been happening in your new congregation during the last few years. However, your congregation most likely has a long history of mission and ministry. And that means generosity. Ask for any and all information about how and why your congregation was formed.
2. Tell them their founding story again. People love to be reminded that their roots are embedded in good things and all those years in ministry have meant something. Highlight that history of generosity in an early sermon.
3. Remind them that they are still generous. Your congregation is not some archaic throwback (though some may cynically say otherwise). Joyful generosity is still happening now (it is!) and more generosity is possible through the current mission and ministry of the church. Identify it and call it out.
4. Ask for a breakdown of the annual giving of pledgers and donors. Initially, you may feel uncomfortable associating names with those donors. That's OK. Leave out the names for now and get the information so you know what the donor pyramid (or whatever shape it takes) looks like for your church. It's basic knowledge that can let you know what work might need to be done around stewardship.
5. Identify the top ten most generous people in your congregation. This does not necessarily mean the top ten monetary donors (remember the widow's mite). Ask multiple people, "Who do you think are the most generous people in the congregation?"
6. Meet with the top ten people identified as being "most generous." Get to know these people. Find out why they love the church and what makes them generous. They can help you help others be generous.
These are merely first steps as you start in your new ministry setting.
Laity, you are not off the hook. You too have a responsibility to set your new pastor up for generosity success. Love on your current pastor showering him or her with gratitude for all the good work that has been accomplished and prayers for the journey ahead.
excerpt from a blog by Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing, Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
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United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.