Editor’s note: This is the third in Dan Loughman’s five-part series on the key factors of developing a successful Parish Stewardship Council.
Having a Parish Stewardship Council that functions separately — yet collaboratively — with the Parish Finance Council and Parish Pastoral Council requires that it be appropriately structured to carry out its intended purpose.
Within the structure of the Church, all parish-related councils, committees, ministries, etc., must serve under the direction of — and in an advisory capacity to — the parish pastor. As such, the selection process for the Parish Stewardship Council must be facilitated as determined by the pastor, keeping the following factors in mind: Recognizing the desired characteristics of Parish Stewardship Council members (Part 1 of this five-part series), those chosen to serve should be carefully interviewed and advised of the expectations of service. Then, if deemed qualified by the pastor and/or selection committee, these inidividuals should be given the choice of accepting or rejecting the invitation to serve.
Leadership of the Council:
At the discretion of the pastor, he may choose to serve as the chairperson of the council or he may suggest and approve the process of selecting, under his direction, chairperson(s) and other officers of the council. Those selected should be carefully chosen on the basis of their personal stewardship spirituality formation, their witness thereto, and their general leadership qualities. These criteria will assure effective and ongoing formation within the parish community.
Size of the Council:
The size of the council should be commensurate with the size and diversity of demographics within the parish community. The council should be adequate in size to facilitate the annual and ongoing activities necessary to maintain an active stewardship formation and education process within the parish.
Terms of Service:
Those selected to serve should be willing to commit to a minimum term of three years, with the opportunity to extend that term, if desired, to one additional three-year term. Terms should be staggered to assure continuity of the understanding and knowledge of the tasks at hand. Based upon experience, the effectiveness of the council will be commensurate with the commitment of time and formation/conversion on the part of its members.
Those serving should be provided with a description of his or her role, identifying the expectations of those agreeing to serve on the council. In general, a primary expectation should be that of assuring that the spirit, language, and practice of stewardship is woven into the very fabric of the parish and its parishioners.
The frequency of meetings will be dependent upon the ongoing/seasonal duties and responsibilities assigned to the council. The regularity and frequency of meetings must include ongoing and prayerful formation of council members, while also planning, designing, evaluating and carrying out the duties of the council, especially that of the annual parish stewardship renewal process.
In part 4 of this series on the Parish Stewardship Council, which will be posted on May 23, we will address the ongoing formation and education of the council.