As we embark on a new year, many of us pause to consider what we can do differently to improve our physical, emotional, financial or spiritual disposition. For some, that might mean losing weight, exercising more or reducing debt. Christians too, have an opportunity to “put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12) and take up new habits that will strengthen our relationship with Jesus and will enrich our parish life.
It is only fitting, in the newness of the year, that I suggest 10 stewardship resolutions that would have a markedly positive impact on your life, your parish and your community at large:
- Sign up for Pre-Authorized Remittance. By making a monthly gift to the church through your bank account, you demonstrate the important role the church plays in your life and the value you place on ensuring that its ministry needs are met even when you are not present.
- Consider increasing your offertory giving when your Our Faith-Our Hope (OFOH) pledge is complete. Most parishes are reimbursed 40 per cent of the total amount raised during the OFOH campaign, to be reinvested in local ministry. By upping your offertory gift, you will help ensure that new ministry can continue. For those who didn’t participate in OFOH, make a proportionate increase to your weekly or monthly giving – your church will be grateful.
- Draw up a will or update your current one. Remember your church or favourite diocesan ministry when planning your estate gifts. A Christian legacy is a wonderful testimony to the values you professed in life.
- Tithe your time and talent. Seek out a new volunteer opportunity in your church, the diocese or the wider community.
- Say thank you. If you are in a position of leadership, thank your donors. If you are not, thank those who are.
- Pray for your parish priests and deacons. They give much and don’t expect much. Pray for their vocation, their families and the good work they do – and let them know you are praying for them.
- Invite someone to church. There is a timeless bit of fundraising wisdom that says “people give to people who give.” That same wisdom can applied church growth. People will go to church with people who go to church. In our secular age, being a seeker can be intimidating. If you know someone who is seeking, invite them to an Anglican church.
- Encourage your parish to tithe to outreach. The tithe remains the measure of generosity that is most widely admired and yearned for, and it is a challenge for most of us. It is precisely because it is such a challenge that parishes should lead by example and endeavour to donate 10% of their revenue to outreach, including 5% to FaithWorks.
- Encourage your children to give – just because most parishes don’t hand out offertory envelopes to kids anymore doesn’t mean we exempt from teaching them to give. If your children receive an allowance, set aside an amount for spending, saving and sharing. Help foster a culture of generosity with the next generation.
- Preach/lay witness about stewardship and its benefits – while it might seem obvious that we need to have a dialogue about generosity there is a general reluctance to preach on this topic. A good sermon or lay witness, presented seasonally, will help reinforce our understanding of stewardship as being inherently biblical.
For a resolution to come to fruition it needs to be realistic, reasonable and desired. Hopefully, each one of these suggestions is attainable for Christians seeking to deepen their relationship with the Church and Jesus. Individually (and collectively), these resolutions have the potential to be transformative to both the giver and receiver. They can enrich ministry in our parish and our community while at the same time making us feel good that we are making a difference beyond that which we can ask or imagine.