Sometimes, in our parish leadership and staff meetings, one-on-one conversations, homilies, bulletins, newsletters, stewardship renewal materials, and other communication vehicles we use, it’s not unusual for a reference to be made that people need to “step up and give” of their time, talent and treasure.
While this kind of statement may seem like it is in tune with the mission of stewardship, we need to get away from making general comments about getting people to “step up and give.” All too often, we get caught up in the notion of “giving to a need” because our parish needs more help or money, rather than focusing on our “need to give” back to God and the Church.
Calling for people to “step up and give,” especially when it comes from the pastor or other key parish leaders, can have a significant impact on parishioners’ perception of stewardship. We, as the pastoral council, stewardship council, finance council, staff, pastor, etc., are there to help people to grow in their faith by being an active member of the parish. Hopefully, through their growing relationship with God, they will give of their time, talent and treasure.
Our focus should not be on getting parishioners to give of their time, talent and treasure, simply because the parish needs it for whatever worthy reason. It should be on getting parishioners to grow in their faith and in their relationship with Christ.
Our focus needs to be about how — through ministries, increased involvement in the life of the parish, increases in financial gifts, etc. — the parish is presenting invitations for people to use their God-given gifts based on how He’s calling them.
Do we need to completely dismiss the idea of using the term “give” or de-emphasize the importance of “giving” of our time, talent and treasure? Absolutely not. But any time we, as leaders in the parish, solely emphasize the concept of “giving,” it needs to be tempered with the fact that stewardship is ultimately about growing in faith, and that giving of the three Ts is a result of an individual growing closer to Christ.
In the end, giving is an act of love of God, not done out of a sense of obligation.
Lastly, I would like to offer our blog readers another free DVD to be used for your ongoing leadership formation.
At a recent Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference, Fr. Jim Golka — the pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in North Platte, Neb. — gave a wonderful presentation on how they have successfully developed stewardship at St. Patrick. The theme of Fr. Jim’s talk was on identifying the “Goals of a Stewardship Parish,” and the focus was on how deepening the spirituality of the parishioners at St. Patrick’s helped them become a thriving stewardship parish.
If you are interested in a free DVD of this presentation, just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll have one of my staff members get a copy mailed out to you within a day or two.
If you are reading this, and you live outside the United States, don’t let that stop you from requesting the DVD. No matter where you are in the world, we’ll get one to you. The Catholic Steward blog has followers around the world, including China as of a couple months ago, and our mission is to provide ongoing stewardship formation to any parish or diocese that is interested.