Editor’s note: Today’s post from Dan Loughman is the first in a five-part series on the key factors of developing a successful Parish Stewardship Council. Dan has a wealth of experience in the area of stewardship development, having worked with renowned stewardship pioneer and TCS contributor Msgr. Thomas McGread, from the early beginnings at St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas. Dan has since moved on to work at the diocesan level as the CFO and as the Director of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita, helping them develop into a total stewardship diocese for almost 20 years. Dan’s five-part series will run each Monday over the next five weeks.
There are two key factors for any parish in facilitating the practice of stewardship and harvesting the fruits of stewardship within the parish community.
First and foremost, it is absolutely necessary for the pastor to show a personal and visible commitment to this process. I refer to this as the “pastor factor.” The pastor must generally understand and appreciate what a full-blown parish stewardship process can mean to a parish and its parishioners. He must be seen as the leader of the process. Doing so may require a formation and conversion journey for the pastor, as well. Without the pastor’s up-front visual support, leadership and general oversight, parishioners may end up viewing the process of developing stewardship as someone else’s personal agenda, and not embrace it as a mission put into place by their spiritual leader.
The second and very important key factor is the selecting and forming of an active and committed Parish Stewardship Council under the oversight and direction of the pastor. In accordance with the unique mission and demographic characteristics of each parish, the active and ongoing utilization of a Parish Stewardship Council should be structured and facilitated to emphasize that stewardship is a spiritual “way of life” response and conversion journey — not a process designed only to fill the collection basket. This response and conversion journey calls parishioners to gratefully recognize, receive, unfold, and share their individual God-given gifts in love of and in service to God and neighbor.
The broad scope of responsibilities, including education, formation and facilitation of the stewardship way of life within the total parish community suggests use of the term “council” rather than committee. The broad duties and responsibilities of the Parish Stewardship Council should be viewed as being comparative in scope to that of the Parish Finance Council and Parish Pastoral Council. The scope of the Parish Stewardship Council should not be viewed as just another parish committee with a narrow purpose unrelated to the overall vision and mission of the parish.
Over the course of the coming weeks, we will address four additional sub-factors pertaining to the development of an effective Parish Stewardship Council:
- Membership Characteristics
- Council Structure
- Formation and Education of the Council
- Best Practices