Annual Stewardship Renewal – “Renewing Our Covenant with God”
Annual Parish Stewardship Renewal
Just like the 40 days of Lent are a time of transformation, we can also look at our annual parish stewardship renewal in a similar way.
“Stewardship Sunday” is more than one day. For many parishes, the annual renewal can cover 5-6 weeks or more (roughly 40 days).
Similar to Lent, as we try to prune ourselves of bad vices and detach ourselves from earthly materials to grow closer to Jesus, we should try to ingrain that same disposition in our personal and parish stewardship formation.
During our annual parish stewardship renewal, it’s a good time to:
- Look back at all the gifts we have been given, individually and collectively, and thank God.
- Look forward to discern how God is calling us to use all of our gifts to help build His Kingdom on Earth.
In the past, we’ve referred to Stewardship Sunday as another unofficial season of the Church. For parishes that celebrate Stewardship Sunday in the fall, think of it as an enhancement to the beginning of Advent.
Renew Our Covenant with God
- Our Annual Stewardship Renewal is another season of the Church.
- Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God and mankind have been making and renewing covenants.
- We should consider the annual parish stewardship process as “renewing our covenant with God.”
- This phrasing reinforces that the annual parish stewardship renewal is a “holy and sacred” action to give back to God in gratitude for all that He has given us.
- The word “commitment” has a negative connotation while the word “covenant” reinforces the “holy and sacred” aspect of stewardship.
- “Covenant” implies a sacred bond with God and encourages a personal relationship with Him, not something I am forced, coerced or obligated to do.
- It’s something I want to do and not something I have to do – placing my covenant card at the foot of the altar.
- Develop a parish stewardship logo.
- Completing our annual stewardship covenant card with our gift of prayer, participation and generosity, signing our name to it and placing it on the altar is our version of making a covenant with God, we shouldn’t take this so lightly.
- Many parishes schedule an annual outdoor Mass (i.e. “Mass in the Grass”) as part of their stewardship renewal.
- Pray for the success of your annual parish renewal prior to starting the event.
- Develop a parish stewardship prayer and pray it often.
- Stewardship Covenant Cards
- Along those lines, parishes are encouraged to change the name of the Stewardship Commitment Card to the “Stewardship Covenant Card”
- Develop a special ceremony to collect, don’t just throw into offertory basket
- Call people to the altar to place cards in the basket
- Collect cards pew by pew
- Allow time for parishioners to complete at Mass prior to collecting and provide blank cards in pews
- Have grade school and PSR student hand-out cards and collect them during Mass
- Keep reminding parishioners to return and have a box in back of Church for later returns
- Hand-out at individual parish ministry meetings
- Develop separate covenant card for parish Youth (different from the Adult version).
- Follow-up with non-respondents – attend parish ministry meetings and give them time to complete and collect.
- Some parishes have developed on-line covenant cards and that’s OK. However, there are studies that show there is positive reinforcement when people are asked to physically write or sign their name on a document versus just clicking on a keyboard. There is a more personal commitment when asked to sign a document versus “click” on a keyboard.
- Festival of Ministries
- Don’t call it a Festival of Ministries
- Combine with another parish social event
- Include food, adult beverages, and/or kid’s activities
- Make it a social event instead of a recruitment drive
- When parishioners see other people in ministry having fun, they are more inclined to join
- Fall Festivals, Chili Dinners, Taste of “Your Parish”
- Develop old newspaper boy/girl day to promote ministries
- Develop “props” to promote your stewardship renewal
- Rowboat – “Get In and Row”
- Fishing Net – “We are Fishers of Men”
- Lay Witness Talks
- Make a DVD of several speakers to show at all Masses
- Make a video of your speakers and post on parish website
- Send video links through social media
- Consider adding an Increased Offertory Program as part of your annual stewardship renewal– they work!
- Some parishes add the Increased Offertory Program every second or third year, some do it every year.
- Avoid conducting Increased Offertory Program during the Annual Catholic Appeal or any capital campaign because of donor fatigue.
- Add Electronic Offertory as an offertory giving option and promote it every month.