Teaching stewardship to a church congregation can be challenging, but it’s not impossible—and it’s definitely important. Creating a culture of stewardship—an understanding that God owns it all, and we’re called simply to manage all of His blessings, His way, for His glory—is critical to every believer’s relationship with their Creator.
But what’s the key to ensuring the concepts and the importance of stewardship sink in? It takes time (way more than 30 minutes in a weekend service), and it takes us as leaders being willing to actually teach our people instead of simply telling them. That’s when we see significant results!
As you seek to effectively teach stewardship, it’s important to use a variety of methods to ensure stewardship reaches every heart. Here are five ways to begin incorporating stewardship into your church’s identity. I pray they inspire your people to see their calling in a new light and to view everything in their life—everything they do and everything they own—as an opportunity to manage God’s blessings, God’s way, for God’s glory!
- Start the year with a stewardship sermon series.
The new year is the perfect time to reintroduce the idea of biblical stewardship. People are returning from vacations, resetting their routines, making resolutions, and taking a hard look at their budgets as they bounce back from too much holiday spending. January and February are the most popular months for churches to invite outside speakers like me to kick off a series like that. On the weeks where an inside communicator is delivering the message, I strongly encourage that person to speak through the filter of humility and vulnerability. This allows everyone to let their guard down on such a sensitive topic.
- Begin a stewardship ministry.
I know a stewardship ministry isn’t the most creative idea in the world, but it is the most effective. And I know starting yet another ministry probably makes you break out in hives, right? But a comprehensive, church-wide, holistic stewardship ministry will revolutionize your church. I’m not talking about a committee on church finances, the budget or fundraising opportunities. I’m talking about a ministry that actually partners with every other ministry in your church, because stewardship applies to every area of our lives.
Build a stewardship ministry by curating a collection of resources, classes, curricula, and other helpful tools like financial coaches who can teach people to biblically steward everyday life circumstances. Unfortunately, common sense concepts like budgeting and living on less than you make are not principles commonly taught in schools today, so people never learn them. How great would it be if a church could meet this need?
- Offer some creative giving initiatives.
A generous heart is always part of the stewardship conversation. If you’re having trouble cultivating generosity, try a creative twist on tithes and offerings. The 90-Day Challenge puts Malachi 3:10 into practice and encourages non-tithers to test God by tithing for 90 days. If they don’t see God prove faithful in that time, promise a 100 percent refund. Or try a reverse offering: Instead of collecting money from attendees, the church distributes cash to them and tasks them with blessing someone in need. Members bring back amazing giving stories and learn what it feels like to make a difference in someone’s life.
- Swap a weekend of services for serving in the community.
If your church is stewarding its own finances well, you might not be absolutely dependent on weekly tithes and offerings to keep the doors open. That allows for an occasional weekend of serving rather than a weekly service. The church can be mobilized to go into the community and be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving others. Since stewardship is about more than finances, this teaches the great lesson that biblical money management creates margin to be more generous in other areas of our lives—like our time, our gifts and our other resources.
Remember, stewardship doesn’t become a part of your church’s culture overnight or after one quick program, ministry or event. If we want the progress, we have to embrace the process.
For more advice on creating a culture of stewardship, or for help rolling it out in your church, email Chris at email@example.com.