“Do not remember the former thing, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19
Let’s get right to it. Change can be hard and trying something new can be scary. Especially for the church. But 2022 further accelerated changes that were already happening: in attendance, giving, facility usage, demographics, and much more. Like it or not, we’re still navigating unchartered waters, and as a new year begins, we have to be willing to do new things.
Here are a few tips to get you started (unlike God’s words in Isaiah, we do recommend first considering a few things of old!):
Adopt an evaluative thinking mindset.
What does that mean? Ask questions. Name assumptions. Reflect. Listen to multiple perspectives. Learn from the church’s actions and one another.
Here’s an example of evaluative thinking in action:
Your church conducted a financial appeal with the hopes of securing pledges for 2023. What was your hoped for outcome? What actually happened? What caused those results? What will you keep for the next appeal, what will you improve, what will you not repeat, and what will be different? This conversation doesn’t happen in a vacuum with a few people or a committee; expand the scope and seek input from others.
Show and tell.
Show your community of faith the impact of their giving (time, talent, treasure and more) and tell them why it matters. Future generosity depends on taking both these steps.
“Look at what our collective stewardship accomplished this year! X dollars to these ministries which meant more people fed, more people clothed, more people sheltered.”
We tend to overfocus on numbers and not share how those numbers made a difference in someone’s life. Be sure to show and tell the outcomes of all the congregation’s gifts.
“$100 enables a child to go to school for a month which leads to greater student success, a more educated workforce, and a more equitable economy and community.”
(Pro tip: get help! Have someone else write or speak to how their participation in a particular ministry changed them, or invite someone who benefited from a ministry to share the story of how it impacted their life.)
Finally, make a plan.
It’s a new year and you’re ready to try new things. You’ve adopted an evaluative thinking mindset and are excited to show and tell the impact of your congregation’s generous stewardship.
Jot down each month of 2023 on a sheet of paper, and write down one stewardship idea for each month. Share it with whoever needs to see it in your church: the pastor, the board, the people like you who care deeply about the mission and ministry of your community of faith. Invite the God who makes all things possible, who is always at work on our behalf, to be a part of your congregation’s stewardship plan in 2023. For behold, our loving and generous God is doing a new thing, again and again and again. May we give thanks for that and be a part of it all the days of our lives.