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.
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.