As professed disciples of Christ, we are also stewards of our personal and communal vocations. When we declare Christ as our king and savior, we also promise to exist as His earthly body. The universal Church depends upon its individual earthly members for evangelization and support, and as stewards of Catholicism, we must respond to this call with living faith and heartfelt stewardship. We must employ our lives in Christ’s service, allowing Him to vocationally use us to our fullest potential. God designed us with specific talents in mind; by closely communicating with Jesus, His son, we can put our talents to proper use. As stated in John’s Gospel, when we give our lives to Christ, He promises to ignite them accordingly: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) [Read more…]
God calls us to give Him everything: our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind. This is the challenge of discipleship — a life-long process of more fully placing our lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
The reason that God can demand such complete service from us is that He made us. Everything we have belongs to Him! This includes our intelligence, our physical ability, our artistic talent, our family, our finances, our government — anything we may typically think of as “ours.”
It takes courage to recognize that we are not the masters of ourselves and our possessions. Moreover, as Christians, we believe that because everything we have is a gift from God, we are required to give Him thanks. And, we express our thanks by using our gifts to further His kingdom on earth. This is the basis for our understanding of Stewardship. [Read more…]
How much time do you dedicate to prayer each day? One hour? Fifteen minutes? None at all? When pondering the three Ts of stewardship – time, talent, and treasure – the “time” component holds the position of greatest importance; it serves as the fertile ground from which the gifts of talent and treasure blossom. Only by spending time in prayer each day and receiving the sacraments are we able to consistently and generously donate our talent and treasure to the Church.
A wonderful example of Stewardship of Time is the story of St. Damien. This Belgian farm boy, shortly after being ordained a priest, volunteered to serve a colony of lepers isolated on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. From May 1873 until his death in 1889 (at the age of 49) St. Damien worked to restore within the lepers a sense of personal worth and dignity.
Leprosy is a hideous disease. In his journal, St. Damien wrote: “Many a time, in fulfilling my priestly duties at the lepers’ homes, I have been obliged, not only to close my nostrils, but to remain outside to breathe fresh air.” Their sight was horrid, their smell putrid. Yet St. Damien chose to remain. [Read more…]
Typically, the time between now and Thanksgiving is when a large number of Catholic parishes in the United States and Canada will conduct their Annual Stewardship Renewal. And, for our parish clients, Fall is the season when we conduct a majority of them, as well. So, since many of the readers of this blog are in “Stewardship Renewal Mode,” I thought it would be good to touch on the need for consistency of message.
From my experience in working with client parishes during their annual renewal process, it’s easy to get off track and off message due to the needs of the parish. Whether the offertory is below budget, or the staff is too overwhelmed with day-to-day operations and needs more volunteer assistance, or expenses have increased ahead of what has been budgeted, it is not unusual to see the leaders in the parish want to use the Annual Stewardship Renewal — the time when we invite parishioners to make annual commitments in Time, Talent, and Treasure — as an opportunity to “solve” one or another of the parishes problems.
The problem with this is that, in the long run, this never works. There may be a bump here or there when you focus on the parish’s need to “get” from parishioners for whatever good reason there is at the time, but it never lasts.
So, what does last? [Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in Dan Loughman’s five-part series on the key factors of developing a successful Parish Stewardship Council.
Ongoing stewardship formation and education is a must for Parish Stewardship Council members. Council members must be committed to this ongoing formation in order to be in a position to design and facilitate the necessary best practices in forming Christian stewards within the parish community.
The initial and ongoing formation as to the concept and understanding of “The Spirituality of Stewardship” is of utmost importance. All members of the Parish Stewardship Council must be willing and committed to attending and participating in all available formation opportunities. [Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: This is the second in Dan Loughman’s five-part series on the key factors of developing a successful Parish Stewardship Council.
The selection and formation of parish stewardship council members, under the direction of the pastor, is the single most important element in ensuring the ongoing life-long education, formation, conversion and facilitation of stewardship within a parish. [Read more…]
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.
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. [Read more…]
There have been, however, careful studies of how people in the U.S, actually use the 10,080 minutes that make up a week. Here are some of the findings:
At our most 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. Here, I would like to share with you my recollection of a small portion of Fr. Golka’s presentation, focusing on his comments regarding the mission of a parish.
Editor’s note: Msgr. Thomas McGread is a renowned stewardship pioneer who built St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas, into one of the most vibrant parishes in the country by teaching parishioners how to use their personal gifts. Msgr. McGread, now the Director Emeritus of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita, was influential in drafting the U.S. Bishop’s pastoral letter: Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.
The latest post by Msgr. McGread was originally written by Chuck Swindoll, a protestant pastor and author.
During a recent visit I made to a parish (name and city are withheld), I had a good laugh after I pulled into the parking lot.
As I came to the beginning of the walkway that led to the parish campus — the church included — there were the typical parking spaces reserved for handicap parking on one side of the entrance. On the other side were seven parking spaces all “reserved” for staff members. And to ensure there would be no confusion on anyone’s part, there were six-foot tall metal poles cemented into the asphalt with large signs on each space that read, RESERVED STAFF PARKING.
Lord, You alone are the source of every good gift,
of the vast array of our universe,
and the mystery of each human life.
We praise You and we thank You
for Your great power and your tender, faithful LOVE.
Everything we are and everything we have is Your gift,
and after having created us,
You have given us into the keeping of Your Son,
Fill our minds with His truth
And our hearts with His love,
that in His Spirit
we may be bonded together into a community
of faithful, caring people.
In the Name and Spirit of Jesus,
we commit ourselves to be good stewards
of the gifts entrusted to us,
to share our time, our talent
and our material gifts as an outward sign
of the Treasure we hold in Jesus.