It has been a great privilege to serve as editor for the Center for Stewardship Leaders newsletter the past four years. The ministry of stewardship leadership is an essential calling for the church, perhaps now more than ever. My personal vocation, however, is shifting as I’ve accepted a position at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The Rev. Catherine Malotky, Grant and Project Manager at the CSL, will take over as newsletter editor in the coming weeks. Catherine’s passion for stewardship is vast, and her knowledge runs deep. I close wishing you all the greatest blessing on your continued stewardship journey.
To that end, check out today’s post by Adam Walker Cleaveland on the stewardship of summertime. Plus, keep an eye out for some exciting newsletter announcements in the coming weeks!
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Being Good Stewards of Time
Adam Walker Cleaveland
Often when we think about stewardship, we are primarily thinking of financial stewardship: being good stewards of the financial blessings God provides so that we can support the ministries and kingdom work of local congregations. And clearly, that is necessary stewardship.
However, if we are to live into a more robust understanding of stewardship, we also need to consider being good stewards of time. And besides, what do they say? Time is money. When you've agreed to meet someone for coffee, and you find yourself waiting, and waiting… when they finally show up or cancel, it feels like your time was wasted. Church members, especially those who volunteer their time to further local ministries, these are people who want to feel like their time is being respected and put to good use.
Avoiding the Summer Slump
As they face alternative summer schedules, it’s crucial for our children and youth that we pour energy into providing intentional programming. Frankly, churches often neglect this responsibility and miss out on the accompanying opportunities. But, in many ways, it's a Catch-22: families with young children often don't come to church in the summer because there isn't much to engage their kids. And churches often don't provide much for young families because of decreased attendance.
Churches also have difficulties finding volunteers to lead programs for kids during the summer months. Imagine this scenario:
You've been frantically trying to find summer Sunday school teachers, and you finally found someone who was a bit reluctant but said that he could do it. You provide him with the lesson plan for the first Sunday, he gathers all the supplies, crafts, and puts some time in preparing so he feels confident teaching. He shows up on Sunday morning, and...
No kids show up.
How excited do you think he's going to be about getting ready for the second Sunday of summer Sunday school? Is he going to feel like his time was valued and put to good use?
What can you do?
Without getting into a comprehensive evaluation of all of the Sunday school curricula out there, I think it's safe to say that many are too lengthy and complicated, may require multiple trips to your local craft store, and rely on teachers and volunteers to shoulder the preparations.
As we consider being good and faithful stewards of our congregation members’ time, we should let that be a factor as we determine what curriculum we're purchasing for our children's and youth ministries. If the volunteer teacher in our previous scenario was working from a thoughtful and meaningful curriculum that didn't require hours of preparation, lack of attendance would feel less like a personal loss. The volunteer might remain motivated to continue volunteering, and maybe even feel energized to help improve participation.
Consider the value of time
As you're making your curricula choices and planning activities (especially during the summer), strongly consider the value of time that church volunteers are contributing. Be a good steward of their time, and it's likely they will be more excited about volunteering the next time you ask.
At Illustrated Children's Ministry, we have created children's ministry and inter-generational curricula that require little to no prep. Our customers asked for theologically-rich material they could use in the summer that wouldn't require lengthy prep-times for volunteers, and we sought to meet that need. If you're interested, please check out An Illustrated Earth, An Illustrated Compassion, or An Illustrated Invitation.
About the Author
Adam Walker Cleaveland is an ordained PC(USA) minister, and founder of Illustrated Children’s Ministry. Illustrated Children’s Ministry creates illustrated faith resources for the church and the home. Adam lives with his wife (also an ordained pastor) and two kids in Racine, Wisconsin.