Editor’s note: This is the final installment in Dan Loughman’s five-part series on the key factors of developing a successful Parish Stewardship Council.
“Best Practices” is considered by many as a term — a business buzzword — used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing certain things that have been proven, over time, to accomplish successful results. A key strategic process when developing and following generally-accepted and successful best practices is to recognize that the most effective best practices are those that have evolved over time producing desired results.
My own personal, parish and diocesan experience of nearly 40 years, along with other professional research, reveals that the following “best practices” are among those that will result in viable and vibrant stewardship parishes. Where we find these practices in place, we find parishes where the stewardship way of life is appropriately serving the mission of the parish — all under the oversight of the pastor and facilitated by a well-formed and active committed Parish Stewardship Council.Vision & Mission:
In general, it should be the goal of every parish, within its vision and mission, to assure that in the hearts, minds, and eyes of all parishioners their parish is, or seeks to truly become, a place of hospitality, prayer, formation and service, where the stewardship way of life culture is woven into the very fabric of the parish. For more on this, go to the Diocese of Wichita’s Stewardship Materials and Resources page at http://catholicdioceseofwichita.org/office-of-stewardship/services-resources and click on the link for copy of The Pillars of Parish Stewardship.
Duties and Responsibilities:
- Education and Formation – of primary importance is the task of using whatever means, resources, and practices that are available to facilitate an ongoing and life-long process of education and formation as to what it means to be and live as a Christian disciple. This education and formation must be predicated upon the Bible (the textbook of stewardship) and the Mass (the school of stewardship).
- Communication – the process of education and formation entails the need for a variety of ongoing methods of effective communication such as:
- Periodic parish newsletters
- Stewardship bulletin inserts
- Stewardship brochures and materials being available for parishioners
- A regular publication and/or annual revision and distribution of a parish ministry directory
- Annual lay witness presentations
- Conducting periodic stewardship ministry fairs
- Having an active parish welcoming committee
- Assisting in the process of registering and welcoming new parishioners
- Scheduling and facilitating periodic receptions to meet, greet and welcome new parishioners
- Providing new parishioners with a “welcoming packet” of parish/ministry related materials as well as identifying the expectations of what it means to be an active parishioner
- Providing Mass greeters at all Sunday/weekend Masses
- Conducting a well-planned (three-phase) annual parish stewardship renewal process:
- The Preparation Phase
- This can involve up to a 3–4 month preparation phase of planning and preparing all that is necessary to conduct a thorough renewal process leading up to the important “call to commitment” phase.
- The Call to Commitment Phase
- The Call to Commitment Phase can typically be a three to four-week period of communication, invitation and encouragement as to how they will in gratitude, recognize, receive and share their gifts in love of God and neighbor, actively serving the needs of their family, parish, diocese and the wider universal Church.
- The Follow-up Phase
- The very important follow-up phase begins immediately following what may be identified as Stewardship Commitment Sunday. It is then the duty of the parish stewardship council to assemble and tabulate all of the results from the completed/returned commitment forms and begin the process of thanking and inviting parishioners to become involved, as they carry out their commitment of sharing time, talent and treasure in service to the mission of the parish.
For more detailed information relative to these best practices, please follow this link to the Diocese of Wichita’s stewardship resources page and click on the “Parish Stewardship Council Handbook on the right side of the page: http://catholicdioceseofwichita.org/office-of-stewardship/office-of-stewardship-home