Teaching ‘Effective Stewardship’ in Your ChurchGenerous Giving recently spoke to Ken Williams about his
unique stewardship program that has been used by over 1,500 churches. We found
Ken’s program to be biblically focused, simple and effective. We thought pastors might
find this program a breath of fresh air when it comes to discipling their members in the
area of stewardship. We asked Ken a few questions to gain a better understanding of
how his program works.
Tell me about the history of the program. How you started it? What need
did you see?
Williams: I started the Effective Stewardship program at St.
Methodist Church in Belleville, Ill., in 1992. I had been appointed stewardship chair after
successfully teaching a Wednesday evening class entitled, “What the Bible Says about
Money.” When I studied our giving records, I discovered we had a lot of good givers and
a lot of tithers, but we had a significant group of people who were not giving anything at
all. I concluded that the problem was one of ignorance, not apathy. They really didn’t
know any better. They had never really been taught what it means to be a steward. To
correct that problem, I created a program of Bible-based instruction which later became
known as “Effective Stewardship: Building on Biblical Principles.”
How does the program work?
Williams: The Effective Stewardship program is based on 48
biblical principles, one
of which is featured each month. We customize materials for each church in the Scripture
version it prefers. Each week, a small box appears in the bulletin containing a Bible
verse and that month’s principle. Once a month, a lay speaker (man, woman or
teenager) comes to the platform and gives a three- to four-minute presentation, which
we provide. Once a month, there is a newsletter article entitled, “Applying Bible
Principles,” which considers that month’s principle from another perspective. And once a
month, we give some basic questions about that month’s principle to Sunday school
teachers and youth workers and ask them to spend five minutes per month talking
about these questions.
We also provide thank-you letters to accompany quarterly donor statements,
offering appeal letters for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings, and a fall
campaign, but these are not an integral part of the year-round program.
What kind of success have you seen with it?
Williams: At St. Matthew, during the time we used this program,
our overall giving
went up 32 percent. The amount of the budget covered by what we called “Faith
Promise” cards increased from less than 40 percent to almost 80 percent. And many
people who had not been giving before became faithful givers.
The program and our fall campaign are benefiting over 1,500 churches in 46
states and Canada. Many of these churches have experienced increases in giving
ranging from 10 to 30 percent. These churches range in size from a church in Montana
which has 35 people to one in suburban Chicago which has 5,000 people. These
churches represent 22 different denominations and groups, so the program seems to
cross denominational lines and to work effectively in both large and small churches.
What do you attribute that success to?
Williams: God is faithful to honor the Scriptures. He has promised
to do so in
Isaiah 55:10-11. As we sow the seed of the Scriptures month after month, God uses the
Scriptures to heighten a congregation’s awareness of biblical principles concerning their
money, material possessions and giving which usually leads to an increase in overall
financial support of the church.
In addition, there are a few key aspects of the program that I believe have
helped make it a success. First, the program is not another responsibility the pastor has
to take on. A few key laypeople can put it into place rather effortlessly. Remember, we
customize everything for the church. Secondly, the program helps weave the principles
of stewardship into church life in a very low-key manner over the course of the entire
year—not only during a capital campaign or fall budget time. Laypeople begin to put
their guards down in regards to the money issue because they begin to understand
through God’s word that good stewardship is a natural part of godly living—like prayer,
Bible study or worship.
What typically motivates a church to begin using your program?
Williams: As the program has developed, two types of churches
are using it. One is
a church in financial distress which wants to “fix” that problem. A church doesn’t get into
financial distress overnight, and it is unlikely that it will get out of that situation
overnight. However, given enough time, the “Effective Stewardship” program has the
potential to “fix” that problem.
The other type of church is one which is meeting its budget and paying its
bills, but for the sake of the future, wants to do a better job of training its people to be
stewards. Baby boomers and busters in particular have usually not been trained in what
it means to be a steward. Most of them think that if they put $5 in the offering, they
have done a lot. We are trying to confront them in a low-key way with the fact that God
owns everything and to bring about a change in their lifestyle. We are not trying to put
them on a guilt-trip, to be legalistic, or even to preach tithing. We are using the method
of instruction described in Isaiah 28:10, “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a
little, there a little.” Different aspects of the program appeal to those who learn better
by reading and to those who learn better by hearing.
How much does it cost a church to participate?
Williams: The cost is based on average attendance and ranges
from $35 per
month for churches with an average attendance of less than 200 to $225 per month for
churches with average attendance of greater than 1,000. No money is paid in advance
unless a church wants to take advantage of some prepayment discounts. Unless a
church prepays in order to obtain a discount, it has the right to cancel the program at
any time with a 30-day notice. We also give each church permission in advance to edit
the materials as it wishes.
How does a pastor or lay leader learn more about the program?
Williams: They can request free sample materials and a video
tape by calling our
toll-free number, (800) 805-8702, by visiting our Web site www.klwenterprises.com, or
by writing to KLW Enterprises, 3705 Old Caseyville Road, Swansea, IL 62226.