About one year ago, Kip Travis and I agreed to coordinate the Stewardship Committee. It seemed pretty exciting and then I stopped and realized, although I thought I knew what stewardship was about, that knowledge was based on being a lifelong Episcopalian and 50 years of being active in the Episcopal Church. I thought it would be nice to have some training for stewardship.
For the past year, the Stewardship Committee has been exploring an approach to stewardship offered by the Church Development organization out of Kansas City, and we have used some of their material to develop our Stewardship work. Working with Church Development, I have listened to five webinars since the first of the year and read three books they recommended. These three books are all available on Amazon.com:
The Spirituality of Fund-Raising – Henri J.M. Nouwen – 2004
Rebuilt – Michael White and Timothy M. Dolan – 2013
Best Practices in Parish Stewardship – Charles E. Zech – 2008
The most surprising book of the three is Rebuilt. When I realized that it was about rebuilding a Roman Catholic Parish I thought it would have little application in our Church, but, by far, it is the most current and has the most direct applications for Good Shepherd. I will review the three books over the next three months.
Henri Nouwen’s book is all about the spirituality of stewardship. He uses the term “fund-raising,” but I believe using the word “stewardship” makes more sense and encompasses the broad understanding of Christian stewardship. In his preface to the book Nouwen mentions two interesting perspectives. His vision starts with the notion of fund-raising (stewardship) as a necessary but unpleasant activity to support spiritual things. However, then he concludes that fund-raising (stewardship) is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry.
Nouwen describes fund-raising (stewardship) as, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission. When fund-raising as ministry calls people together in communion with God and with one another, it must hold out the real possibility of friendship and community. Fund-raising is a very rich and beautiful activity. It is a confident, joyful, and hope-filled expression of ministry. In ministering to each other, each from the riches that he or she possesses, we work together for the full coming of God’s Kingdom.
Although this is a quick synopsis of this book (pamphlet) the pamphlet is very rich in sharing the spiritual side of Stewardship in 37 pages of wonderful reading.