Once you’ve selected the right stewardship consultant, how can you work with him to get the best possible results? Your consultant needs four gifts from you.
Check him out carefully, then trust him. You engaged his services because you aren’t an expert in stewardship development; he is. Don’t view every suggestion with immediate suspicion. Give him the benefit of the doubt and listen with an open mind.
I’ve consulted with pastors who wouldn’t return my phone calls or emails. I’ve also talked with pastors who did all the talking in every conversation. This is very good at the beginning, when I am interviewing them to understand their church’s unique culture and special needs. This is very bad during the implementation stage, when I need to advise them on strategy for an upcoming meeting or sermon. Make sure you stay in close touch with your consultant by returning his phone calls and emails promptly.
Any stewardship consultant worth his salt is going to ask you to step outside your comfort zone and do things that are, frankly, scary. He will ask you to take steps you haven’t taken before (or you wouldn’t need him now). Be strong and of good courage. The Lord has promised to be with you wherever you go. When you boldly lead your people to biblical giving, they will joyfully respond—really! For more encouragement, check out what happened to these biblical stewardship leaders: Moses (Ex. 35:4–9, 20–24; 36:4–7); King David (1 Chron. 29:5–9); King Joash (2 Chron. 24:8–10); King Hezekiah (2 Chron. 31:3–10); Nehemiah (Neh. 13:10–12); and the prophet Haggai (Hag. 1:1–15).
When a pastor and church board first enter into a stewardship campaign, they are terribly vulnerable to the temptation to edit the consultant’s program. They will want to skip asking for pledges because they fear people will be offended; they will try to cut out public stewardship testimonies because it “unduly exalts people”; they will leave out the mailings because they want to save money on postage; and on and on.
One church that used my stewardship program only implemented four of the ten steps because six of them made them too uncomfortable. Their giving only increased 21 percent, while other churches using the same program saw 39, 41, and 57 percent increases.
For best results, follow every jot and tittle of your consultant’s advice—especially the parts that make you the most uncomfortable. They are probably the very parts that you most need. I tell churches “The program will work, if you will work the program.”
I believe it is God’s will that every church reach its full giving potential. The secret is bold, biblical, pastoral leadership. And often that leadership is most effective when guided by the wise, biblical counsel of a godly stewardship consultant. If you select yours carefully, and work with him cooperatively, God will greatly bless your church’s finances.