Stewardship is using the gifts God has given us to do the work God is calling us to do.
The Stewardship Blog
Our Lives Are In the Offering Plate
I’ve been thinking about the offertory sentence(s) we hear on Sunday mornings in church.
The celebrant on any Sunday will choose one of ten offertory sentences. You can find these on page 376 of The Book of Common Prayer (BCP).
The Rubrics state: The Celebrant may begin the Offertory with one of the sentences…”. The ushers then come forward to receive the offering plates, which are them passed to the congregation.
After the collection, the offerings of bread and wine, and money or other gifts are given to the celebrant. The celebrant may or may not place the plate on the altar. If they do, it remains in parishioners sight until almost the end of the service.
As parishioners come forward to receive the bread and wine, the visible offering plates are a reminder of those gifts received from and given to God.
The offertory sentences are a good way to teach about stewardship in a parish. Consider a bible study, or a reflection, on each sentence.
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and make your vows to the to the Most High. Psalm 50:14
Ascribe to the Lord the honor due his Name; bring offeringsand come into his courts. Psalm 96:8
Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
I appeal to you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and the come and offer your gift: Matthew 5:23,24
Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his Name. But do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews: 13:15,16
Or Lord our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and powers; because you have created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. Revelation 4:11
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. For everyti9ng in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. 1 Chronicles 29:11
Let us with gladness present the offerings and oblations of our life and labor to the Lord.
I invite you to visit page 376 of the BCP and read through the sentences.
Which sentence do you hear most often in your parish?
When you hear your rector or deacon speak these words, how are you moved?
Which sentence do YOU hear when you think about giving?
What is God calling us to give? God is calling us to give Our Whole Lives.
Just when you think you have “wrapped up” your parish stewardship program… wait, there’s more!
What is your response to your stewardship campaign?
Before you put your campaign results on the shelf, take some time with your Stewardship Committee and Vestry to understand how your campaign performed, what trends you might uncover in generosity, and how your message was received by your members. Asking a few questions now can help your congregation plan for the coming year’s campaign.
It is important for the committee to meet a few weeks after the end of the campaign to discuss, and to consider the response of parishioners to the stewardship program.
TENS, The Episcopal Network for Stewardship, suggests the following when you examine your campaign success:
- How much did you raise from how many gifts?
- How many new gifts did the campaign receive?
- How many households increased their giving?
- How many households decreased their giving?
- How many pledge cards stayed the same?
- If you use electronic giving, did the number using it increase?
- Did anyone indicate that they would like information on planned giving or including the church their estate plans?
Then present the results to the parish. You are encouraged to share pledge data with your congregation.
A helpful graphic that shows the results of your campaign looks like this:
The Pyramid helps us understand giving patterns. It particularly shows how the giving total is impacted by each level of giving. How do the smallest gifts combine to create a solid base for our campaign? How do the largest gifts enable our ministry?
The next step for the Stewardship Committee is to meet monthly, or every other month. Regularly. Stewardship is not simply a campaign in the fall; it is year-round. Regular committee meetings offer the opportunity to:
- Plan ways to keep stewardship on the minds of your parishioners.
- Use the parish newsletter, social media platforms, and the church website to tell the stories about how church ministries throughout the year are made possible through the generosity of parishioners.
- Present opportunities for parishioners to use their time and talent to share in church activities, programs, outreach, and more.
- Consider having a chairperson for the annual stewardship program, and a chairperson for year-round stewardship activities.
Be sure you take full advantage of all TENS offers to help you develop and enact the best stewardship programs for your parish. Sign-up for webinars. Learn about techniques and expertise to help you offer stewardship campaigns for this year and for years to follow. TENS offers webinars throughout the year.
The Diocese of Atlanta’s Stewardship Commission is a valuable resource for your stewardship committee. We offer workshops during the year and are always available for conversations about stewardship. Contact Tammy Pallot, Tammy Pallot <email@example.com>, for questions, and suggestions you may have. We are your stewardship resource in your diocese. Together we are partners in bringing the good news of our gratitude to God, and how to turn that gratitude into action through sharing our abundance with our neighbors, our community, and our parish.
You will find a Toolkit for Evaluating Stewardship Campaign Performance at TENS.org. The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has provided a TENS members for every parish. For more information about TENS and how to login with the password, contact Ginny Heckel firstname.lastname@example.org, a member of the Stewardship Commission.
Ginny Heckel, Stewardship Commission member.