Most stewardship programs emphasize short-term results. With the exception of capital fund-raising drives (which can encompass a year or more), typically, most stewardship programs last only a few weeks at most.
As a result, most pastors and lay leaders are accustomed to thinking of stewardship in terms of short-term programs. They are just not used to anything that goes much longer than, say, four weeks or so. That’s why most pastors and lay leaders are somewhat taken aback when they first encounter the “Effective Stewardship” program.
In fact, most people automatically equate the “Effective Stewardship” program with a Fall Campaign in which people make a commitment concerning their giving in the coming year. At first glance, most have difficulty comprehending the concept of a year-round stewardship education and training program that is truly long-term in nature.
Why does this program emphasize the long-term? Why is its concern (and ours) not so much with next Sunday’s offering as it is with the offerings two and three years in the future?
Here’s why: In order to directly affect the offerings in the immediate future, a stewardship program either has to use high pressure tactics, appeal to the emotions of the givers, find and appeal to an individual donor’s “hot button” in terms of a special project, use some sort of crisis or pseudo crisis, or give something away in exchange for a financial contribution. Unfortunately, once the reason for such an appeal passes, the reason for giving also passes.
The “Effective Stewardship” program is just the opposite. It is low-key in nature and seeks to bring about a change in lifestyle that will last for many years or even for a lifetime. By emphasizing the eternal truths of the Scriptures, this program seeks to motivate giving not by guilt or gimmicks, but rather, from loving hearts that respond to God’s love and from lives which have been touched by the Holy Spirit.
Based on our experience and observation, it is far more effective to emphasize the long-term aspect of stewardship rather than the short-term. In other words, ask a person to give (for whatever reason), and he or she gives for that moment. Teach a person to give, and he or she gives for a lifetime.
Which kind of person would you rather have supporting your church?