There are many G-words in the English-speaking church world; God, Good, Glory, Giving. But in the work of stewardship and congregation maintenance, peering closely at budgets and the results of giving campaigns, squinting at the numbers can obscure the big “G”s of Grace and Gratitude. This week, Sean Mitchell explains the importance of gratitude strategies from his years of experience and new book Gracious Stewardship, co-authored with Millie Snyder. Together, we can uncover the grace of God -- and our response of appreciation -- underpinning all stewardship work.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Gratitude and Grace
Since 2006, I have coached, consulted, and conversed with quite a few church stewardship committees. The conversations have ranged from capital campaigns to stewardship classes for disciples. This background informed my efforts to co-author a book of stewardship ministry insights from firsthand experience. And while such experience was years in the making, it was one singular stewardship meeting that catapulted me into the writing studio to share Gracious Stewardship.
The discussion of this meeting might sound familiar. The stewardship committee was discussing the results of the recent fall campaign. The numbers weren’t great, so concerns were gathering like beads of sweat. What would become of the church if disappointing outcomes repeated in future campaigns? Were those who didn’t renew their pledge now less committed to the congregation? What could be done differently to inspire more generosity from the congregation?
As a guide, I was there to listen and help shape ongoing generosity development. As their concerns were laid on the table, my mind kept circling back to a very important spiritual discipline: gratitude. Gratitude was the missing piece in this discussion, and overall, it appeared to be a missing practice of this committee. Yes, their campaign did not yield the desired results, but there were plenty of reasons to express gratitude. If I could identify them with my outside perspective, I wondered what it would look like on the inside.
What would happen if stewardship committees, and church leaders in general, developed additional practices of gratitude? In addition to planning ways to encourage generosity, how could these leaders insert moments of gratitude into their work together? What if these leaders spent more time thanking God for the works of God? Who in the congregation should be recognized more for all they’ve been sharing with the church community?
My hope for the committee with whom I had just completed that memorable meeting, and my hope for us all, is a boost in gratitude. Together with co-author Millie Snyder, in our book Gracious Stewardship we outline how gratitude can become one of the driving values for stewardship ministry teams. We explore gratitude as integral to strategies for “Transforming Fellowship” and “Equipping the Saints.” Without the right tools, many church teams tasked with “stewardship” often rush problem-solving and jump into a search for fundraising solutions. We suggest that teams first take a step back, have a deeper look, and embrace grace-based values for stewardship development in the church.
The grace of God changes things. People are changed by grace. Relationships are reconciled because of God’s gifts. Jesus was full of grace and built his kingdom with it, encouraging the disciples to practice his Way of Grace and continue his work in the world. And the same graciousness of God, if embraced, can mold the work of stewardship ministry teams into joyful, meaningful service.
By valuing gratitude, transforming fellowship, and equipping the saints, teams position themselves to be conduits of God’s grace in the world. All the works of the Church, including the outreach ministry, Sunday School class, hospital visits -- and fundraising -- function as opportunities to spread the graciousness and kingdom of Christ Jesus our Lord.
For More Information
Sean Mitchell is the co-author of Gracious Stewardship: Developing the Church in the Way of Jesus, available for orders online. Through his professional craft, Generosity Development, Sean Mitchell helps church leaders cultivate stewardship and giving For more info, visit generositydevelopment.com.