As the leaders of a stewardship parish, we are charged to foster a community of disciples. It is not as though as the leaders we must simply direct our fellow parishioners as to what they ought to do. Rather, we are called to serve them, to help them grow in faith, and to help them better serve the Lord. We want our parish to be thriving. We want stewardship to be lived out in the lives of our parishioners and, in turn, for stewardship to fuel everything we do as a parish. But this does not begin with some abstract idea about how stewardship should be lived at our particular parishes. Rather, it begins with the God-given gifts of our parishioners.
Imagine for just a moment that you are one of the first disciples. This is not an easy task. After all, we cannot truly fathom what it was like to live in Galilee 2,000 years ago as Jesus walked the earth. But let’s take a moment and put ourselves in the place of Simon, Andrew, James and John – the first four disciples Jesus called.
Employers in the fishing industry, a major business of the time, these four men were engaged in a hard day’s work when Jesus approached them.
“As He passed by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and His brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they left their nets and followed Him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then He called them, so they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed Him” (Mk. 1:16-20). [Read more…]
One of the hallmarks of a Stewardship Parish is having the parishioners take ownership of the parish and feel a sense of responsibility for all its activities, including its finances. In this regard it is important to promote openness in all financial dealings so that parishioners have a real sense of what is going on in the parish, what its financial needs and responsibilities are.
Based on the parish surveys we at Catholic Stewardship Consultants, Inc. (CSC) have conducted in Catholic parishes over the past 12-plus years, most parishioners do not have a good understanding of where their parish is financially. Quite often parishioners think their parish is far better off financially than it actually is. In fact, in many cases we have seen situations where a particular parish is in deep financial trouble, and most parishioners’ responses indicate that they think their parish is doing just fine financially or even generating a surplus. On the other hand, we’ve found cases when a parish has an adequate income, but many parishioners think the doors are about to be closed.
How does this disconnect happen so that parishioners think the parish is well off financially when in fact the opposite is true? Or that they think the parish is worse off than it actually is? Well, oftentimes, they have not been given enough accurate information in an understandable format by the parish leadership to know the parish’s financial situation. Granted, in other cases, the parishioners are at fault – they have been given enough information, but they have not taken the time to understand what is going on. [Read more…]
Parishes with good communications find that parishioners tend to be eager to participate and glad to contribute their time, talent, and treasure because they feel like they’re “in the loop.” But parishes that don’t effectively share the news — either deliberately or accidentally — find that the people can feel left out. Such a parish can become fertile ground for rumors and complaints. [Read more…]
God has called each of us as parish leaders to help build the Church. The call and challenge for each of us is just as real, just as important, and just as total as the call on the life of any other Catholic leader, including the earliest disciples. When Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, He called to some fishermen, “Come follow me.” He promised that if they laid down their nets and followed Him He would make them fishers of men. These men were some of His original disciples, and they knew Christ’s call was so important that they left their secular occupation to follow Jesus. In much the same way, Jesus calls each of us to follow Him today. He is not necessarily asking us to leave our secular occupations like he asked those fishermen so long ago, but He is asking us to put Him first in our lives and to busy ourselves with building the Church. In many cases, in fact, God wants us to serve Him, to build His Church through the secular occupations we have chosen. [Read more…]
Welcome to The Catholic Steward. As a service to Catholic parishes everywhere, we have created this blog to assist in sharing best practices around developing Stewardship within parishes. Here you will hear from individuals who have worked on implementing stewardship within their own parish and diocese. These individuals bring together a wealth of knowledge and experience. [Read more…]