Category Archives: Notes on Developing Stewardship
Today marks the beginning of our Year of Faith, and as our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI explains in his 2011 apostolic letter, Porta Fidei (the Door of Faith), it is a time for Catholics “to deepen faith and strengthen bonds with God.”
The Year of Faith is also a time when we are called to reach out to those who have left the Church, but still yearn for God in their lives, and to respond to nonbelievers who are searching for true meaning and help in life. “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received, and when it is communicated as an experience of faith and joy.” (Porta Fidei).
At the very heart of this special year is evangelization. Dioceses, parishes, pastors, Church leaders, and lay people are called to act and participate.
This is a particularly bountiful time for us to enhance our stewardship efforts and initiatives by embracing the Year of Faith, and by offering unique and distinctive programs and offerings closely related to stewardship and faith.
We are the stewards of our Catholic faith — this Year of Faith calls us to gain greater understanding of our faith, as well as nurturing it and fostering it in others. Truly this is an opportunity to receive the gift of faith; care for it and share it responsibly; and return it with increase to the Lord.
Most parishes have already launched initiatives or made plans in relation to the Year of Faith. In the event you have not completed your planning and preparation, Catholic Stewardship Consultants would like to share with you these 15 examples you can implement to enhance your faith and stewardship efforts. Also included at the end of this list are some online “Year of Faith” resources you can utilize to help prepare your efforts:
- Launch a series of small group studies spanning six weeks with the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response as the focus.
- Dedicate two weekends during the year during which members are encouraged to invite someone to join them for Mass.
- Begin study groups on the U.S. Catechism.
- Review, study, and discuss Vatican II documents.
- Assure that every family in the parish has a Bible.
- Study the four major constitutions from the Second Vatican Council: Sacrosanctum Concilium, Lumen Gentium, Dei Verbum, and Gaudium et Spes.
- Make use of Father Robert Barron’s series. Catholicism, to enhance parish adult education and promote its use through small group reflection.
- Make efforts to offer faith formation programs to parents of catechetical-age children in order to help them in their role as the first teachers of the faith.
- Promote opportunities to make visits to the Blessed Sacrament at local Perpetual Adoration Chapels and in the parish church.“…knowing the content to be believed is not sufficient unless the heart, the authentic sacred space within the person, is opened by grace that allows the eyes to see below the surface and to understand that what has been proclaimed is the word of God.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, #10)
- Plan a significant celebration of the parish patronal feast day and the annual anniversary of the dedication of the parish church with special liturgical services and fellowship opportunities.
- Offer increased opportunities for small group prayer and promote meditation on the Word of God through Lectio Divina. “We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, #3)
- Provide new opportunities of service in which the parish will reach out to an organization or institution in need of helping hands and loving hearts.
- Review current efforts and policies and undertake to have regular and varied opportunities to register new parishioners in an easy and welcoming way.
- Be proud of the good things accomplished in and through the parish and begin a new effort to send updates about parish life to diocesan publications and to local newspapers and TV stations.
- Organize study groups on the Apostle’s Creed and reflect on the meaning and implications of the statements.
Year of Faith Links to Online Resources♦ The Vatican website on the Year of Faith ♦ U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Year of Faith website ♦ Archdiocese of Milwaukee resources ♦ Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series ♦ The Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei ♦ Documents of Vatican II ♦ The Catholic Churches of England and Wales ♦ Written support materials
I am sure many of you have already seen some of these ideas presented on the Vatican and other Catholic websites, and I hope this list of 15 examples helps inspire you to kick-start Year of Faith initiatives in your parish. If there is anything we can do to help you with your Year of Faith stewardship efforts, please feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So often in my travels and discussions with parishes around the country, I hear questions from people who just don’t get what stewardship is all about. Many parishes are simply looking for a quick fix to boost the offertory, and are misguided in their belief that a “stewardship program” designed to increase parish revenue is the way to go.
Truth is, stewardship is all about helping parishioners grow in their relationship with Christ. To develop stewardship in a parish and experience substantial long-term growth, it takes a commitment solely focused on the ongoing spiritual development of every individual parishioner, and a desire to help strengthen each parishioner’s relationship with God. The more committed a parish is to this focus, the more likely they will experience success.
But we also don’t live in a vacuum. We know that most parishes need increases in their offertory to fund parish programs and ministries, not to mention to just pay the bills.
The parishes we work with each and every day “get it.” Our parish clients understand that true stewardship starts with bringing parishioners into a living relationship with Christ. And once a parish embraces and practices our holistic approach to stewardship development, they experience concrete results.
We recently conducted an analysis of our parish clients to see how developing the spirituality of stewardship has impacted them during the 2011-12 fiscal year, and the numbers are impressive. Listed below are just a few of our findings:
♦ On average, our parish clients experienced 501 NEW commitments to parish ministries.
♦ Our clients also saw significant commitments to personal and family prayer, reporting an average of over 1,750 new prayer commitments.
♦ On average, our parish clients experienced a 27% pledged offertory increase resulting in an average total increase of $146,000.
Your parish can experience similar results and do amazing things with a year-round, holistic, spiritually-focused, and practical approach to stewardship. If you are interested in finding out how Catholic Stewardship Consultants can help you make this a reality, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Or, for those of you heading to Chicago this weekend for the International Catholic Stewardship Council Annual Conference, feel free to stop by the Catholic Stewardship Consultants booth at the ICSC to meet with me or one of our representatives. We will be happy to give you more information.
I would like to share with you an article that ran earlier this week in the National Catholic Register about how the Diocese of Wichita’s emphasis on stewardship has enabled the diocese to completely fund their parish schools since 2002. It is truly a remarkable story of stewardship in action.
As parishes throughout the diocese grew stronger and had more resources through stewardship, diocesan schools gradually did away with tuition. Since 2002, all of the dioceses’ 38 schools — including four Catholic high schools — have been without tuition, educating just under 11,000 students.
At a time when Catholic school enrollment continues to decline and schools close across the country, the Diocese of Wichita is bucking that trend, thanks to stewardship and the model developed by Msgr. Thomas McGread more than 30 years ago.
As many of you know, Msgr. McGread is a longtime advisor to Catholic Stewardship Consultants and contributor to The Catholic Steward Blog. His story is chronicled in our 2011 book, Grateful and Giving: How Msgr. Thomas McGread’s Stewardship Message Has Impacted Catholic Parishes Throughout the Country, and is the model for the work we do at CSC in helping parishes develop stewardship as a way of life.
Our organization has helped hundreds of parishes across the country experience stewardship success following Msgr. McGread’s model. For more information on how CSC can help you and your parish develop stewardship, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, there are many initiatives a parish can implement to help develop stewardship. But there is only one way to answer the question.
The answer is to conduct an EFFECTIVE stewardship renewal, and to do so once a year.
The stewardship renewal, in a nutshell, is a process that entails parishioners making concrete pledges of their time (commitment to prayer), talent (commitment to ministry involvement), and treasure (commitment to the offertory) once a year.
Sounds easy enough. But, in order to be truly EFFECTIVE:
√ The Stewardship Renewal needs to be done with equal emphasis on each of the three Ts: Time, Talent, and Treasure, and there needs to be proper follow-up so as to welcome people into parish ministries with open arms.
√ Hospitality needs to permeate the parish at all times.
√ It needs to be a process that educates parishioners and offers parishioners an invitation to grow in their faith.
√ And, above all, it needs to be a positive and formational time during which parishioners put more of their trust in Christ and take concrete steps in their faith.
If each of these steps are carried out, the results can be no less than miraculous:
√ You will see inactive parishioners return to practicing their Catholic faith and see parishioners who sporadically attend Mass suddenly begin attending each Sunday.
√ You’ll see parishioners young and old becoming more involved in the life of the parish.
√ Your ministries will see significant increases in participation.
√ Your parishioners who have never given anything financially will suddenly begin giving regularly, and those who are already giving regularly will increase their financial contributions.
√ You’ll see individual parishioners beginning to increase their personal prayer and hear stories of parish families now regularly praying together.
These amazing results are not too good to be true. I’ve witnessed similar transformations in hundreds of parishes all over the country, and I know firsthand that these types of results are attainable for any parish.
For the past 16 years, it has been a great joy of mine to be able to assist hundreds of parishes across the country, and across the world for that matter, to increase the practice of stewardship. Whether you have tried in the past to run your own “renewal” with limited success, or if you’ve never before conducted a renewal, I would be happy to learn more about your parish and share with you how conducting an EFFECTIVE and LIFE-CHANGING Stewardship Renewal can become a reality.
As always feel free to contact me at email@example.com and I’ll share with you what I can to help you and your parish.
Through my experience in working with parishes, I have found that pastors have unique needs when it comes to dealing with the day-to-day challenges of stewardship development. To address these needs, I am conducting a three-day Stewardship Workshop for Pastors on Hilton Head Island, S.C., May 23-24-25.
I have tailored this workshop to address the specific challenges pastors face each day in developing stewardship throughout the parish. Joining me to facilitate this workshop and share their insights will be a few pastors who have had tremendous success developing stewardship in multiple parishes over many years. We’re going to conduct brief presentations that foster discussions on key issues for pastors, and we will work together to develop solutions for the specific issues that each pastor in attendance faces at his parish.
To help facilitate an effective atmosphere of discussion, this session will be limited to 20 pastors. Applications will be processed first-come, first-reviewed, so if you’re interested, submit your application today.
This workshop will be held at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort. In addition to the interactive sessions, there will be opportunities for personal time, as well as time to share ideas with other like-minded pastors during a round of golf if you’re so inclined, as well as an optional ocean dinner cruise. We will begin at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, and conclude on Friday, May 25, at noon.
For more details and an application to attend this one-of-a-kind event, click here: Stewardship Workshop for Pastors Online Application
If you want to take your stewardship efforts to another level, whether you are in the early stages or have been successful at it for years and want to go to the next level, this opportunity will give you plans to get there.
The four pillars of parish stewardship — Hospitality, Prayer, Formation and Service — have been heralded as key elements in the process of parish and personal conversion to the facilitation of living stewardship as a way of life.
In establishing the order of importance of the “four pillars,” Bishop Eugene J. Gerber, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Wichita, strongly suggested that Hospitality must be first because, as he said, “you can’t form them unless you first have them in the pews.”
The success of Hospitality is generally measured on the basis of how well the needs of parishioners, young and old, are being met. If those needs are being met and the parishioners are being invited to become involved in providing the needs, serving and being served, a parish will typically witness commitment to and support of the mission of the parish, and the pews will be fuller than they might be otherwise. (more…)
If you are a pastor who is seriously looking for ways to more fully develop the spirituality of stewardship in your parish, I am hosting a stewardship workshop on beautiful Hilton Head Island May 22-23-24, 2012. Save the date: registration opens April 10. More details then.
You can learn a lot about the spirituality of stewardship and get a ton of great ideas by regularly following this blog, and we are thrilled that you take advantage of this service. But when it comes to the sharing of ideas, there is no substitute for in-person interaction. This three-day Stewardship Workshop for Pastors is designed to give you the tools to get you and your parish — from whatever place you are today — to the next level.
We’ll get together for a series of powerful sessions featuring talks from myself and two dynamic pastors who are themselves highly successful with stewardship at multiple parishes. We’ll also have some fun and fellowship opportunities during the three days. Details to come next week.
Space is limited to 20 pastors. Mark the date on your calendar and check back at The Catholic Steward on April 10 when registration opens. Remember, this three-day session is for pastors only. Feel free to share this invite with your own pastor or with other pastors you know who might benefit from this one-of-a-kind event.
How’s that for a riddle? The best answer, if you haven’t already guessed it, is love. But the beauty of this paradox is that there can be a number of different answers. Another one might be artistic talent. Ask any artist, and they’ll tell you that their skill for drawing or painting decreases after a few weeks or months of inactivity. But the more they paint, the more their talent grows.
If you hoard it, you’ll lose it; if you share it, it stays healthy. We even see this concept illustrated in nature. For example, the Sea of Galilee teems with fish and other wildlife. However, all the water in this beautiful reservoir is constantly being drained through the Jordan River, which stretches about 60 miles, providing the only fresh water for all of Israel. It finally drains into the Dead Sea – which, unlike Galilee, has no outlet. Consequently, it is stagnant and totally lifeless, continually evaporating into thin air.
The point, in a nutshell, is that the good steward takes care of his or her gifts by giving them away. By doing so, you don’t have less left over; rather, you have more! (more…)
Fifteen years ago, a doctor encouraged me to explore my genealogy for genetic reasons. Despite thinking this could be risky and a lot of work, I began to do the research and embarked on a historical journey that, to this day, I greatly treasure. While some discoveries thought to be forgotten and buried, the genealogical search gave me the story of a people that intersected at some point in time, became my family, my story, and my history. I have never regretted the work, to find the facts, the names, and the circumstances that now defines us as family.
Several years ago, I began to think in the same terms about our parish family here at my parish, St. John the Apostle Church in Minot, N.D.. I wondered about the “charter members” of this parish that generously offered time, talent and treasure to establish our parish family, develop it, sustain it, and to this very moment in our history, continue its growth and continue the stewardship way of life that launched us and continues to help us thrive. Just as in every family, seasons come and go, celebrations occur, gatherings happen, the care and repair any household requires has taken place throughout our history, we look to the future of our parish family with hope and enthusiasm. It didn’t take long for me to realize our “birth” as a stewardship parish occurred at the moment people became interested in establishing the parish. We owe a great deal to those “charter members.” They are a significant part of our history just as any genealogical story identifies the names of those who “intersected” with others for form any family. (more…)
Most parishes are experiencing a financial shortfall and hard economic times right now. Many parishioners are losing their jobs, and others are worried that they will
, while others are afraid that their retirement income may lose its value. So, some parish offertories are feeling a dramatic drop. Still, the parish needs money to pay its bills, but this is a tricky thing to talk about. As soon as you start talking about money with your parishioners, many of them shut down. They don’t want to hear it. And more often than not, they don’t want to give.
I know the scenario all too well. I’ve been there. At each of the parishes I pastored, and even the ones where I served as an assistant pastor, I saw this play out. The pastor mentioned money, and many of the people turned their ears off. And I am sure that they do so even more these days in the midst of this economic crisis. For many, the idea of giving their money away when they have their own bills to pay can be painful.
So, how do you get your parishioners to give more generously? (more…)
Formation is the third of four pillars of parish stewardship as a way of life, along with hospitality, prayer and service. But what does this word “formation” mean in our contextual understanding of stewardship?
Formation means to study the teachings of Christ and His Church, and then to develop ways to put those teachings into practice. Faith formation is at the heart of many activities in any parish. A parish grade school exists solely for the purpose of providing for the formation of children in the ways of Christ and His Church. A parish school should not be viewed as a “private school,” but rather a Catholic school, so that we, as a parish, are able to assist the parents of the parish in carrying out their responsibility to hand on their Faith to their children. (more…)
In the process of developing stewardship as a way of life at the parish or diocesan level, the term “stewardship” is sometimes used rather loosely. Generally, there is a wide range of definitions among parishioners as to what the term “stewardship” really means to them. This holds true even though the 1992 U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, Stewardship – a Disciple’s Response, very clearly addresses exactly what stewardship is and what it is not.
Case in Point: the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., under the direction and leadership of Bishop Eugene J. Gerber, designed, implemented, and facilitated a diocesan-wide, parish based, stewardship way of life process in the fall of 1985 that has continued now for the past 26 years. This process has successfully served the broad and combined mission of the diocese and its parishes. As successful as it has been, however, there are ongoing challenges that require evaluation of how stewardship is perceived in general, as well as what is and is not working well. (more…)
As professed disciples of Christ, we are also stewards of our personal and communal vocations. When we declare Christ as our king and savior, we also promise to exist as His earthly body. The universal Church depends upon its individual earthly members for evangelization and support, and as stewards of Catholicism, we must respond to this call with living faith and heartfelt stewardship. We must employ our lives in Christ’s service, allowing Him to vocationally use us to our fullest potential. God designed us with specific talents in mind; by closely communicating with Jesus, His son, we can put our talents to proper use. As stated in John’s Gospel, when we give our lives to Christ, He promises to ignite them accordingly: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) (more…)
God calls us to give Him everything: our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind. This is the challenge of discipleship — a life-long process of more fully placing our lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
The reason that God can demand such complete service from us is that He made us. Everything we have belongs to Him! This includes our intelligence, our physical ability, our artistic talent, our family, our finances, our government — anything we may typically think of as “ours.”
It takes courage to recognize that we are not the masters of ourselves and our possessions. Moreover, as Christians, we believe that because everything we have is a gift from God, we are required to give Him thanks. And, we express our thanks by using our gifts to further His kingdom on earth. This is the basis for our understanding of Stewardship. (more…)
How much time do you dedicate to prayer each day? One hour? Fifteen minutes? None at all? When pondering the three Ts of stewardship – time, talent, and treasure – the “time” component holds the position of greatest importance; it serves as the fertile ground from which the gifts of talent and treasure blossom. Only by spending time in prayer each day and receiving the sacraments are we able to consistently and generously donate our talent and treasure to the Church.
A wonderful example of Stewardship of Time is the story of St. Damien. This Belgian farm boy, shortly after being ordained a priest, volunteered to serve a colony of lepers isolated on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. From May 1873 until his death in 1889 (at the age of 49) St. Damien worked to restore within the lepers a sense of personal worth and dignity.
Leprosy is a hideous disease. In his journal, St. Damien wrote: “Many a time, in fulfilling my priestly duties at the lepers’ homes, I have been obliged, not only to close my nostrils, but to remain outside to breathe fresh air.” Their sight was horrid, their smell putrid. Yet St. Damien chose to remain. (more…)