The Future of Congregational Stewardship Services
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Perspective of Wayne B. Clark, Director
January 28, 2010
As congregational lay leaders become more knowledgeable about stewardship and generosity, we continue to move toward a more collaborative model. We take our services to a higher level as we acknowledge the importance of spiritual generosity in a consumer centric world.
We provide a more flexible template of services by partnering with professional and lay leaders to promote healthy congregational growth. We emphasize the stewardship of shared ministry and fair share giving. We introduce resources (web sites, communication forums, blogs, workshops, articles, books) while not necessarily delivering these resources.
We provide guidance through conference calls, video conferencing and webinars. We continue to decrease our travel to congregations. However, we are still on site to share our wisdom and experience through assessment visits, strategic planning weekends, orientation workshops, annual budget drives, financial feasibility studies and capital campaigns.
We continue to expand the Green Sanctuary program, supporting an ever-increasing number of congregations that are intentionally pursuing stewardship efforts to protect the Earth. We provide a green sanctuary manual and offer workshops for lay leaders. For the past 20 years, we have provided financial support to qualifying congregations. We continue to offer building loans, loan guarantees, grants, and awards to facilitate the growth of our congregations.
We ask more questions, searching for congregational success stories to build upon. We take an appreciative approach, helping congregations identify their strengths, rather than looking for problems to solve. Our assessment visits continue to evolve from the medical model of diagnosis and treatment to an exploration of what’s already working well. We encourage leaders to become experts on the root causes of success while we guide them away from cycles of blame and defensiveness.
We build upon what has been learned during the three-year FORTH stewardship development project; a stewardship development program is most successfully implemented when there is at least one leader with an understanding of, and passion for generosity and spiritual stewardship development. This is especially true when that leader receives guidance from an external coach.
We launch Champions of Change, an 18-month lay leader development pilot program. The program offers a way to help build congregational stewardship. It is not offered as a “silver bullet” solution to all congregational ills. Five lay leaders have begun a coaching alliance with Wayne Clark. These leaders are being encouraged to discover meaningful actions that are compatible with their spiritual values. Wayne coaches them to find their own answers, to focus on personal growth, and to help move their congregations forward.
We add outcomes based evaluation to our well-documented outputs analyses. We begin each congregational relationship by gathering baseline data. We look for our impact upon congregations. We measure growth and progress that occurs during and after our consultation. We measure specific outcome indicators; what is seen, heard, read, enhanced, increased, altered, begun. From this data, we continue to tweak our services to help create healthy, vibrant and growing congregations.