We suggest the parish form a Stewardship Council in partnership with the Parish Council. The general responsibility is for stewardship cultivation and the annual stewardship initiatives. We suggest that the Stewardship Council not be treated like a committee or be placed under the auspices of the Finance Council. The reason being is that tends to put too much emphasis on the treasure instead of equal emphasis on all aspects of stewardship and the spirituality behind it.
The council should consist of five or more members. Ideally, the council consists of the pastor, a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and a representative from each of the primary committees: Finance Council, School Advisory Council, Youth Ministry, Hospitality, Marriage and Family, etc. Stewardship should permeate all the other committees. Members could be appointed to serve three years.
Forming a Stewardship Council/Committee
In recruiting parishioners to serve on a Stewardship Council/Committee, consider the following qualifications or criteria:
1. Spiritually Motivated
It is important that members be people of prayer and be concerned about parishioners’ relationship with; God not about the needs of the church. If their primary concern is raising more money for the church or getting more volunteers for the church, then they would not be appropriate to be on the stewardship committee. Look also for people who are Eucharistic, who have a deep relationship with Jesus, who are grateful for that relationship and who act on that gratitude. Such persons, spend time in studying Scripture and often are people who go to Mass daily.
2. Exemplify and Live Out Stewardship
Look for members who are already personally committed to Stewardship as a way of life. They may NOT call it Stewardship but they live it. Those committed to Stewardship volunteer their time in various parish and community activities. The pastor will certainly know or can find out about people’s volunteer activities at the parish and may even know about a person’s involvement in the community. Those committed to Stewardship will also be committed, regular and generous givers to the offertory. Again, the pastor will know or can find out about people’s giving history.
3. Envision Where Stewardship Can Take the Parish
It is important that all members of a Stewardship Council/Committee have the same understanding of Stewardship in a general way before they join the council/committee and, more specifically, after they join and are educated. Some may see stewardship only as tithing your money; others may see Stewardship as recycling paper products; others may see it as volunteering your time to church organizations only. Developing a working definition of Stewardship will help consolidate the diverse viewpoints of the council/committee members. It is also important that the members be able to develop a vision of where the parish can be 5, 10 or 15 years from now.
4. Have Personal Qualities that Contribute to Success
Look for people who are accountable (they do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it), persistent, optimistic, organized, patient, creative and willing to share their faith with others.
Responsibilities of a Stewardship Council
Please take some time to explore this resource explaining the many responsibilities of a Stewardship Council. However, please keep in mind that not all of these responsibilities need to be tackled within the first year, or even several years. Take your time and build a solid foundation so that your efforts will be both fruitful and sustainable.
Spiritual Formation for Members
Faith formation of the Stewardship Council should be the primary emphasis, especially in the beginning. Practical steps and best practices of a stewardship parish are great, but there needs to be a solid foundation to build upon. Actually, it is a best practice of parishes throughout the country that the faith formation precedes service. Jesus Christ spent three years forming His Disciples before sending them out in service. Why wouldn’t we do the same?
- First and foremost, we recommend reading and studying as a group the USCCB’s pastoral letter on stewardship – Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. The document is broken into sections and offers discussion questions to guide you through.
- This resource is available in both English and Spanish
- The book, What Do I Own and What Owns Me?, by Daniel Conway, is a great resource to use during a group formation study. Conway pulls from the knowledge and inspiration he received from Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy throughout the seven years he knew him. This resource is incredibly thought-provoking and is an excellent supplement to the USCCB’s pastoral letter on stewardship, referenced above.
- Another great formation resource comes from the Diocese of Wichita, also known as the “Stewardship Diocese.” The Diocese of Wichita has many great resources, one of them being their four-part formation video series with Father John Lanzrath. This series includes access to videos and discussion/activity guides.
- This resource is available in both English and Spanish
- Contact The Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement for information or access
- When it comes to living as a good steward, it is important for us to know, understand, and grow our spiritual gifts. Taking the Spiritual Gifts Inventory is a great tool to help you grow individually and as a team – it’s a wonderful formation opportunity!
- The Office of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry offers the resources to host a Spiritual Gifts Retreat. This is a great opportunity for the Stewardship Committee to introduce spiritual gifts to the parish, help them discover their gifts, and then help them become more engaged in the life of the parish. For more information on this retreat, please contact Sister Kathy Adamski, OSF.