What would it take to help your congregation develop a plan for cultivating generosity year-round? The East Ohio United Methodist Foundation has created an incentive for local churches in its conference, called the Five Star Stewardship Award.
“The important thing is not to compete with other churches or gain a certain number of points, but to say ‘What are the things that my church needs?'” says Brian Sheetz, Executive Director of the Foundation. “What are the things that we do well, and what can we learn from others that’s a good idea so we can do things better?”
The purpose of the award is to encourage congregations to engage in a comprehensive stewardship program by recognizing them at four levels: the Five Star Church (all churches with 150 or more points and all required components); the top earning Five Star Church in each district and in the conference; and the district with the highest percentage of Five Star Churches. The Foundation will give $250 to the mission project of the top point church in the conference.
The award has four major components: connectional stewardship, local stewardship effort, church finance and budgeting, and a narrative summary describing changed attitudes and outcomes.
The award gives specific options. For example, the church can create an active stewardship committee that is separate from finance; have a ministry supported by the church speak about how the church’s gifts change lives; or show staged increases in shared ministry apportionments. A church can have at least five stewardship sermons throughout the year, set up endowment fund policies, or do a ten-year analysis of ther church’s giving.
The Foundation also provides lists of possible “Thank You” speakers, International Mission speakers, and suggested congregation-wide studies. To see all criteria, see “East Ohio Five Star Stewardship Award.”
Questions for Discussion
* What encouragement does your conference have for churches to cultivate generosity year-round?
* If you were to create a year-round stewardship plan for your congregation, what components would you include?
* What assistance does your Conference United Methodist Foundation offer for stewardship education and action in any of these aspects?
Written 2/11/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church