As readers of the Communiqué know, there is a vast difference between stewardship education and fund raising. “Effective Stewardship: Building on Biblical Principles” is the former, i.e., it is designed to provide a systematic program of stewardship education and training. As such, it is based on the Scriptures and has a powerful effect in thousands of congregations because God honors the Scriptures and causes them to accomplish the purpose for which they were given.
One thing the “Effective Stewardship” program is not is fund raising. What’s the difference? Fund raising usually involves some sort of manipulation, a “guilt trip,” and some sort of crisis orientation. It appeals to the emotions and to an individual’s sense of responsibility to do what is “right” in response to an appeal.
For example, fund raising might ask, “What is the value of a child’s soul?” as a lead-in statement in a financial appeal letter. Fund raising might go on to say that the value of a child’s soul cannot be calculated, but it is worth $100 or any other figure that could be named. The conclusion would be to ask the reader to give $100 so that a particular children’s ministry might continue.
Thus, the appeal is to the emotions. Who would not want to give to help a children’s ministry continue? The only problem is that the ministry probably would continue with or without a response from the reader since few, if any, such appeals are genuine emergencies. Too, a legitimate question always exists concerning such appeals as to whether or not the funds are actually going to be used as stated.
Then, of course, in fund raising, the next letter (or telephone marathon) must create some new crisis or emotional appeal to cause the reader to respond again.
The “Effective Stewardship” program is not like that. It is designed to train people to be stewards. It does not have next Sunday’s offering in view as much as it does the long-term giving trends in a church. It is not designed to stimulate a one-time gift, but rather, to teach people what it means to give and how to give.
The old adage most of us know pertaining to fishing is very applicable to stewardship as well: Give a person a fish, and he or she will eat for a day. Teach that person to fish, and he or she will eat for a lifetime. The same thing is true when it comes to giving. Ask a person to give, and he or she will give for a moment. Teach that person to give, and he or she will give for a lifetime.
Which would you rather have? A donor who responds only to emotional appeals or one who has been taught scripturally to give?