Ditching Our Stewardship Campaign - for Discipleship

September 24th, 2012

A few months ago our ministry team made tentative plans for this fall’s stewardship campaign. A few weeks later we ditched that plan. Instead, we are going to lead a discipleship emphasis. Financial stewardship will be one of the topics. But we felt the need to raise the bar on overall discipleship, and not just focus on financial giving.

We used the new program Committed to Christ as a starting point. However, we wanted a more engaging, life-giving title, so we are calling it “Real Life Ahead: Fully Alive in Christ.” Our theme text is, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, The Message)

For eight weeks, we will ask people to take concrete steps towards becoming more committed followers of Christ. We believe this will lead them to a more abundant and “real” life. They will be asked to fill out a commitment card each week. The card lists multiple options for stepping up their commitment in a particular area of discipleship, from beginner steps to more demanding spiritual practices. All of these details can be found in the Committed to Christ materials. We made significant revisions to the commitment cards for our specific context, but generic examples can be found in the published materials.

Most of our small groups, including our Sunday school classes, will be studying the Committed to Christ materials. However, we added an additional lesson on group-life that the curriculum does not include. The heart of our “Real Life Ahead” emphasis will be implemented through our weekend worship services. Our worship themes follow:

Real Life Ahead: Fully Alive in Christ

  • Finding Real life through Christ
  • Finding Real Life through Prayer
  • Finding Real Life through Scripture
  • Finding Real Life through Worship
  • Finding Real Life through Community
  • Finding Real Life through Witness
  • Finding Real Life through Generosity
  • Finding Real Life through Service

Each worship service includes a testimony by a layperson, a commitment card, and attempts to offer creative and interactive ways of engaging the theme. We put all of this together via a “Real Life Ahead” team who brainstormed sermon and worship ideas (including appropriate music, drama and congregational involvement), created small group lesson plans for our teachers, identified candidates for the testimonies, worked out logistics on how to follow up on the commitment cards, and promoted the emphasis in the congregation.

I can’t tell you what impact this emphasis had on our congregation because, as of this writing, we haven’t started it yet! But we are hopeful this initiative will serve as a fruitful step forward in engaging our congregation in deeper discipleship. We understand discipleship is a life-long journey. But we are using this emphasis to jump start that experience for our nominal members, and enriching it for our more mature members.

So if you are planning a fall stewardship campaign, you might want to ditch it in favor of a discipleship emphasis. Or, you might want to make this your emphasis for the New Year or for a spring or summer initiative. Or perhaps you will want to wait until next fall. Regardless of the timing, if you do this, may God’s blessings be with you and your church as you attempt to lead your congregation to become more fully devoted disciples of Christ.

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