I recently ran across a parish’s stewardship council mission statement that read as follows: “The primary mission of the Stewardship Ministry is to promote parishioner involvement of Time, Talent, and Treasure to serve the needs of the parish.”
This is possibly one of the worst mission statements for any stewardship effort I have ever seen, and unfortunately, statements like these are not that uncommon.
“To serve the needs of the parish”? So this parish’s mission is all about its own self-preservation and betterment, rather than the ongoing spiritual growth of its individual parishioners? Big mistake.
There are unfortunately many parishes that share this misguided stewardship philosophy. Not only is this mentality detrimental to the spiritual growth of its parishioners, but it defeats the entire purpose of what it’s trying to accomplish. Once parishioners get the sense that this “Stewardship thing” is all about the parish’s need to get, they rightly conclude that this is just another tactic to better the parish and not its individual parishioners.
And, what do we see as its fruits and results? I know a little bit about this specific parish, as well as many around the country with the same focus, and their stewardship efforts aren’t worth the time they put into them. The “results” they see are minimal at best and pale in comparison to the results experienced by parishes who put the individual parishioner’s spiritual growth front and center, and in turn see increases in vocations, Mass attendance, ministry involvement, etc.
The focus of stewardship is pretty basic. It needs to be about how we live our lives as individual disciples of Christ day-in and day-out. It has nothing to do with the parish’s need to “get” The sooner your parish places the focus where it needs to be, the sooner you will begin to experience the results that successful stewardship parishes see as a result of parishioners’ ongoing growth and faith in Jesus Christ.