“Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Luke 10:2
For the past three years, members of our Pastoral Council, Finance Council, and now our newly formed Stewardship Council have come together with our Pastor and Pastoral Staff to focus on a strategic plan to increase the participation of Stewardship in our parish. Our meetings have been very fruitful and the plans to go forward are exciting.
By definition a Christian steward is: “one who is a disciple of Jesus who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others, and returns them with increase to the Lord.”
This presupposes that a Steward is truly a disciple of Jesus Christ. A succinct definition of a disciple is “one who responds to Christ’s call, follows Jesus, and shapes his or her life in imitation of Jesus.
Recently, I read a book authored by Jonah Berger called “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.” One of his main points was on the value of “word of mouth” in the context of business and customers. He says:
"To be successful as an entrepreneur, you don’t need to have a huge marketing budget. You don’t need to have a big team. You don’t need to be a social media wizard. At the end of the day, all you have to do is turn your customers into advocates. Turn the people who purchase from you, that work with you, that buy from you—get those people to bring just one or two people in with them. Think about it: Each one reach one. If we could get each one of our customers to bring just one new customer or client, we’d be hugely successful. The good news is, it’s not random, it’s not luck, and it’s not chance. There’s a science to why people talk and share. A dollar spent on word of mouth goes 10 times as far as a dollar spent on traditional advertising.”
In my opinion, this translates easily at St. Andrew! How? It starts with all of us here! From the Pastor and Staff to the little ones of our parish. We all should be modeling this as true disciples of Jesus Christ. Are you, are we, are our ministry teams being truly intentional about sharing the Gospel, the greatest news in the world, with neighbors, friends, and acquaintances?
Despite all the strategic plans and meetings to get all of us engaged with our time, talent, and treasure, and the marketing monies we may spend on doing such things, the most effective way to lead people to Jesus and into His Church was what the early church did; good old fashion word of mouth! In other words - evangelism.
For some of us, we might not feel comfortable or have the confidence to evangelize. However, it is good to know that it does not take a lot to do so. Just your willingness to say yes! Yes, to the person in front of us when they are going through a tough challenge in the life. The simple, I will pray for you, and then praying is an amazing witness. Yes, to sharing simply about why Jesus and our Catholic faith is important. The giving of a Catholic book to a neighbor that you care for and the knowing they would get a lot from reading it. The inviting a family member who has left the faith to come with you to the next parish event or to participate in the next faith formation series being offered at St. Andrew. This is evangelism and we are all called to it by our Baptism.
Concerning Stewardship, I found it very thought provoking reading a quote given by Don McClanen, in the article “Behind the Stained Glass Windows: Money Dynamics in the Church,” 1996. Don says:
“You can work the pants off money, but if you’re not deeply into Christ and the Spirit, all the talk, theology, biblical study, [and] suffering of the world won’t make any difference. It’s a spiritual problem. As long as we talk about making stewardship more effective, it won’t work.”
As a Staff, now is the time when we come to look back at the past fiscal year and consider future budget needs. And during this time, it’s tempting to focus on the financial bottom line. Leading us to conversations like this: we need better stewardship–by which we really mean–we need people to give more money. More giving, better fundraising, and so on.
But here’s the thing, St. Andrew The Apostle Catholic Church is not like any other charitable organization. Our givers make donations but what we do not want to do is to reduce our parishioners who give to our parish to just “donors.” To do this is missing the big picture–and that bigger picture is discipleship.
Giving or tithing as a part of stewardship as a way of life, is an act of prayer, praise, sacrifice, and worship. Conversion of our hearts must come first. Then the act of spiritual giving is what we do as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
In a nutshell, in-line with our Parish Mission, it is good for you all to know that our parish stewardship priorities are the following:
Pray this week on how you can respond to the call of true discipleship here at St Andrew The Apostle Catholic Church.
Yours in Jesus!