Stewardship Ministry (Part II)

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My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

An Inspirational Budget

A budget is an expression of the vision of the parish -- its priorities, concerns and plans for the future. Members who see a church doing more than "paying bills" will be inspired by the vision of the Church that seeks to serve its parishioners, neighbors and people in need throughout the world. The parish might consider budget line-items for Charitable Programs, Missions, Outreach, Youth Worker training, Adult Education, Educational Outreach Materials and more. Though some may balk at this extra burden on the budget, others will be inspired by the vision of a parish interested in improving and adding to its ministries.

Avoid "Sinking Ship" Communication

"Our parish's financial condition has weakened...Our annual income has decreased, while our operating expenses continue to increase." "...the situation has not improved..." "...the parish is in financial decline and we must take drastic corrective action."

In his book, Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church, Kennon Callahan offers the following advice: "When you describe your church as a sinking ship (fear of losing the Church), you will reach Fewer people and raise less money. To be sure, you will raise a little money -- just enough money to delude yourself that the sinking-ship approach works. When you focus on God's mission is a winning cause, not a sinking ship." In the same book Callahan also writes, "Money follows mission, not the reverse. This is a shorthand way of saying that the stronger the congregation's relational characteristics, the easier it is to raise money. The stronger the congregation's mission, visitation, worship, groupings, leadership, and decision-making, the stronger the giving."

Stewardship and the Parish Priest

The foremost purpose of the Steward's offering of time, talents, and treasures is to support, maintain and grow the spirituality and mission actively of the parish. This requires that the Stewardship Committee work closely with the Parish Priest.

The success of the Orthodox Christian Stewardship Program may be directly attributed to the spiritual leadership of the Priest working together with the dedicated Stewardship Committee and Parish Council members. It is suggested that the message of Stewardship be woven into the Priest's sermons, pulpit announcements, and the parish print and electronic media. The Priest has the spiritual responsibility to teach Stewardship, which is the Christian understanding of all that we possess - time, talent and treasure.

Clarify the Parish Mission and Vision

In the words of Father William Chiganos, of blessed memory, "...people don't give to need; they give to vision....Church people don't stretch their giving because of the need to meet the budget; they give more because they are able to see a vision of people being reached and God's purposes being accomplished in the life of the church and its ministry." Ministry evaluation and planning can help leadership to clarify the Parish Mission and Vision. (Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

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Please Note: Christian leaders are led by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They reveal their faith in Him when they assume the sacred responsibility of giving of themselves freely and with courage and hope. Every Greek Orthodox Church has faced difficulties in raising the necessary funds to meet her financial goal. Our beloved parish, historically, has faced such difficulties over 90 years of existence. God, Who loves His Church and its people always comes to her aid and continues to always protect her. The early Greek Orthodox Christians who chose to live in South Bend, IN struggled constantly to provide for their families and no matter how poor they were, they never neglected their church. We all need to be inspired by their Christian example and give generously to our church.

The Almighty God provides all of us with a golden, and holy opportunity, to serve Him selflessly and our fellow Orthodox Christians with love. It is true that not everyone in the parish is wealthy, however, most of our parishioners have been blessed and are able to give not only what is expected of them but even more. The more one gives, the more one receives from Him.

It is however, a fact, that the people that give the least, the smallest amount to the church, are the ones complaining the most. The Parish Priest who has access to the stewardship of all in the parish is well aware who gives what to the parish. He also has a strong knowledge of who is who in the parish.  

Let us be honest and remember the words of Saint James the Holy Apostle, "Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works... faith without works is dead" (St. James 2:18-20).  Be always generous with your gifts to the One Who gave you all that you have.

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In Christ,

+Father George