MARCH 2021. It’s been a year since the pandemic turned our lives upside down. A whole year—and who knows how long it’ll be until we can all get together in person again? I sure don’t, do you?
Maybe it’s time for all of us to think about what stewardship really means in times like these. No, it’s not all about money. That’s just a tool. No, it’s not just for treasurers. It’s for all of us.
What does a steward actually do, anyway? A steward is someone who takes care of something people care about with an eye to the future. Farmers know that. That’s how they take care of their land.
For us, that means taking good care of this ministry that we all love with an eye to coming out of the pandemic as a community of women acting boldly on our faith in Jesus Christ. We might do it differently then, but we’ll still be a community of women acting boldly on our faith—together.
Pretty words, but how do we actually do that? How does a good steward make that happen? What does that look like from day-to-day?
Know the ministry well
I think the first step in taking good care of this ministry is knowing it well, knowing how it works, inside and out, top to bottom. Our constitutions are the place to start (welca.org/tools-for-leaders; scroll down to find our constitutions). Could you put your hand on your own constitution today? Maybe it’s time to think about studying our constitutions together and talking about what their provisions actually mean for us.
Besides knowing how our organization works, a good steward knows where to find more information when she needs it. The welca.org website is a good place to start, but we can also talk things over with our sisters in other SWO’s, conferences, or congregations. Do you have their phone numbers and email addresses? Our sisters are a gold mine of good practical information.
Your churchwide board members are another good source of information, as are your churchwide staff members. However, almost all of your churchwide staff members have recently had their work hours cut in half, so please be patient if you have to leave a message.
What else does a good steward know about this ministry we all love?
Care about the people the ministry serves
She knows and cares about the people this ministry serves—the women who participate. And since we can’t just get together and chat in person, we have to make an intentional point of communicating, deliberately communicating.
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that so many of us have grown accustomed to virtual meetings and online worship and video everything else. Social media, e-newsletters, websites—we’ve all gotten used to using them. If we don’t know all the details of how to use them, we know someone who does, and we can all learn together.
Not everyone can take full advantage of the internet, since not everywhere has good broadband service yet. But the mail still goes through—so let’s use that! Ask your board to authorize spending some money on a printer, stationery, and stamps. Send frequent newsletters, postcards, or greeting cards! Everyone loves to get mail, so send some to the women in your congregational units, conferences, and synodical organizations.
Even in places without good data service, most people are comfortable with the phone. Ever take part in a conference call? You can have Zoom meetings with both video and phone participants. Anyone with a touch-tone phone can dial into a Zoom meeting using one of those phone numbers and then enter the webinar or meeting ID and the passcode. It’s just like an old-fashioned conference call!
At the bottom of every invitation to a Zoom meeting is a list of phone numbers that looks kind of like this:
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +13126266799,,81615102949# or +16465588656,,81615102949#Or Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 669 900 9128 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Webinar ID: XXX XXXX XXXX
What else does a good steward need to know as she takes good care of our community of women?
She needs to know that our community of women won’t be the same, won’t look the same, won’t work the same, through the pandemic and even after we get past it. But it’s going to be all right. Really. We’re still a community of women acting boldly on our faith—together. We’re going to be all right.
Audrey Novak Riley is director for stewardship for Women of the ELCA. Download Audrey’s PointPoint presentation on stewardship here.