A Generosity Project Reflection: Telling the Stewardship Story

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A Generosity Project Reflection: Telling the Stewardship Story

The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The reflection below was provided by Rev. Stacy Emerson.

Storytelling should be at the heart of our stewardship ministry. Stories have a unique way of reaching the heart in a manner mere facts cannot. When congregations focus on numbers—the status of the budget, the cost of “keeping the lights on”, or the lack of volunteers—they are missing the point of what stewardship and generosity are all about. Generosity is not about a budget, but about the capacity we have to change lives and to make a difference in the world.

Tell a story and you will notice people respond differently. They smile. They nod. They make connections to their own experiences and memories. And stories let people know that what they give and what they do matters. Which is how we inspire generosity. It begins with knowing and trusting that what you do matters.

So how do you tell a good story?

Be specific. Giving details and making clear connections between the act of giving and the way people’s lives are changed is essential to a good story.

Tell a timely and relevant story. Consider the work and ministry done by your congregation in the last year. What has happened? In a world that is feeling divided and full of conflict, broken and suffering, how has your church brought healing and hope in its mission and ministry? Who has grown? Who has been helped and how?

Make the connections and inspire next steps. When telling the church’s stewardship story, it is important to make clear connections between the generosity given and the powerful effects of giving—which include both the help offered to others and the growth a giver gains in openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit, faith and trust in God, and empowerment to be a part of God’s healing and salvific work in the world. A good stewardship story has a way of leading others into the next steps of generosity that works to make the love of God real in the world.

Inspire giving and nurture generous spirits. Keeping the focus on the difference being made, on the work that matters, more than on the facts or the numbers or needs of the budget, will inspire giving and help to nurture generous hearts.

So, what is the powerful, transformational story your congregation has to share? May God bless you in the telling!

Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA.  She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.