May 18 - 24, 2009


A Team Balance

By Tuck Aaker

I sat back in awe at the conversation that was going on during this stewardship team roundtable. I had just asked the group what they felt their #1 goal should be for the coming year. We had four or five good goals so far — and no one had yet mentioned money. I thought to myself, this is a real stewardship team. They are focused on how the congregation can make a difference, not how they can meet their expenses.

How did they get this way? What made this team so focused on the truly important aspects of our lives as Christians instead of the drive to increase the congregation's income? For one thing, this congregation was coming off a year where they had received more than $100,000 in income than they had the year before and were forecasted to end the year with a surplus. How did they get that surplus? What caused this congregation to be so successful?

There were many factors involved: the leadership of the pastor, the spiritual mood of the congregation, the positive attitude of the council, and the fact that none of these leaders came from a background in banking, accounting or money management.

It used to be that having a background in accounting or money management was a good qualification for a stewardship team member. But that only works if those folks can look at stewardship's "big picture." Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often with people used to looking at the bottom line. On a six-person team, having one or two money-focused members works quite well, since they bring some valuable balance to the team. But a majority of these thinkers will strangle the effectiveness the team from the very beginning.

Look for team members who have broad experience in many different lines of work, but make sure they have a high compassion level and are interested in seeing the congregation grow. People who love what they do will bring a positive attitude to the table. Get some young, some older, some men, some women with a variety of opinion and background.

Success in your stewardship effort begins with your choice of who will guide the motivation of your congregation. Analyze your membership, make a list of the best candidates, get a balanced group who are positive people. There are many teams and groups in every church, but this is one that can make a huge difference to your future and your growth.

Tuck Aaker is a retired businessman who now consults and specializes on stewardship issues for the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA. He shares his expertise in Stewardship Now, a column he writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

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