Best Practices for Effective Financial Stewardship in the church
The term, "best practices" refers to a leadership style that employs optimal strategies. These best practices do not guarantee an organization's financial health, nor do the promise to transform a person's financial commitment. Rather, these strategies and policies are the exceptional practices of healthy, vital faith-based communities. Some of these best practices will enhance the financial discipleship of your community; however, other practices may not be well-suited for your particular organization. They are designed to stimulate your thinking and to encourage new perspectives. These best practices are focused in three predominant areas: discipleship, cultivation, and conversation.
- Provide an opportunity for people to live a lifestyle with values other than consumerism.
- Promote the faith-based joy of generous giving, starting with the church leaders.
- Focus on the need of the giver to give, rather than on the church need to underwrite an operating budget.
- Encourage pastors to embrace their role as stewardship leaders.
- Establish the offering as an integral act of worship. Link the offertory prayer to other aspects of the worship service.
- Consistently teach children and youth about Christian stewardship through activities and reflective questions.
- Promote a vision of ministry that attracts people and changes people’s lives. Remember: Most people are not motivated to give out of survival issues; they are motivated by mission and ministries.
- Emphasize percentage giving and tithing at least once a year.
- Celebrate giving and provide numerous opportunities for people to be able to give.
- Preach at least 9 times per year on stewardship. Remember: Jesus talked about money, things, and possessions more than any other topic in the New Testament.
- Provide a course in personal budget planning.
- Talk about and hold seminars on wills, endowments, and bequests – promote planned giving from people’s assets and estates.
- Invite a different person/couple to breakfast or lunch once a month for a discussion about their faith commitment and money.
- Offer people the opportunity to discover their spiritual gifts and to find ways to use those gifts in the church and with others.
- Talk about money! Lift the taboo on the discussing money in the church. Allow more than one person to have access to the financial giving records.
- Be intentional about telling stories of the work, mission, and ministry of the church. Ask, “How is the local church and your denomination changing people’s lives – within the congregation, in the community, and around the world?”
- Prepare a narrative budget for the congregation. Distribute the traditional line-item budget only to the church leadership and others who request a copy.
- Rather than perpetuating a crisis mode, focus on the potential of the church.
- Inform congregations of their giving patterns – set goals; provide follow-up information; personalize giving statements.
- Establish clear policies concerning endowment funds and memorial gifts.
- Seek grants and the formation of a separate non-profit corporation.
- Promote systems that provide ease in giving
- Offer segmented appeals
- Conduct donor capacity analysis