Few congregations have effective year-round programs for stewardship education, tithing and planned giving. Most need help. SALT helps supply that need. SALT, through information provided by "Church Stewardship & Growth Center" will meet the needs of your church by bringing you articles of what others are doing in the stewardship field, suggestions on new programs, ideas, displays, literature, electronic medias, and training materials. It will give you and your congregation the satisfaction of more effectively meeting the needs of the work of Jesus Christ.Many of the articles may have been written years ago but the information is still very important to your congregation.
The difference between the success and failure of bringing families to full stewardship stature is vested in local leadership and knowledge. As the chief steward under God, you hold the key of leadership. Use it or lose it!
The Pony Express Stewardship Plan
More than a century ago, mail was carried westward by the Pony Express. Daring men who sped on horseback from one station to another, relaying to fresh riders their mail-filled saddlebags. The success of this exciting venture was based on teamwork.
Pastors and financial stewardship officials have been using The Pony Express Stewardship Plan to conduct highly successful budget campaigns. It has produced impressive results in more than 25,000 churches of all sizes in cities large and small. The program works equally well in churches ranging in membership from many thousands to less than 100! You can easily tailor it to meet your particular needs.
Most churches use this dynamic system several years in succession. Many have been able to achieve an increase in income of from 10% to 20% per year. Here's How The Pony Express Works
Members are divided into ten-household "Pony Express Run" routes. A special saddlebag is prepared for each route. It contains financial stewardship reading material as well as unsealed enclosure envelopes containing "estimate of giving" cards. Attached to the saddlebag is a list
showing the names, street addresses, and phone numbers of the route families AND the "trail boss" recruited and trained to supervise the bag relay from home to home.
About noon on the Sunday you designate, trail bosses and their families start the Pony Express Run by digesting the motivational stewardship reading material. Each prayerfully fills in their estimated giving during the coming year, seals the card in the envelope and places it in the opposite bag pouch from which it was taken. The stewardship booklet is returned to the pouch from which it was removed. The saddlebag is hurried on to the next household on the route list.
This second household repeats the process, delivers the saddlebag to the next house on the list and reports by phone to the trail boss that the bag has been handed to a responsible member of the receiving household. After the last one on the route has used the bag, it is relayed back to the trail boss - who delivers to the church office the "church mail" it contains.
Route-assigned households who were "missed" during the Run are sent letters with estimate of giving cards and return envelopes enclosed. They are urged to respond without delay, ahead of the Sunday on which the summary report of the results of the campaign is made.
Prior to the Run, homebound members and members too scattered to have been placed on neighborhood routes will have received in the US Postoffice mail their estimate cards and return envelopes -with the invitation to let their postal carrier assist them in participating in their church's campaign. Or, as an option, special routes will have been created for these persons, with trail bosses recruited to relay the bags for them.
What - No Pledge Cards?
That's right! The Pony Express Plan does NOT ask members to sign pledge cards. Nor does it call for "officials from the church" to call on members seeking their financial commitments.
Part of the magic of this different approach is that it "eliminates" the objections many
members have to "signing a pledge."
Members are invited to simply fill in the amount they "estimate" they will contribute to their church during the coming year. (The name and address of the member will have already been entered on the card.) The much-appreciated setting in which the card is filled in is the privacy of the member's home - with only members of the family present.
Do Church Members Pay Their Estimates?
Yes! They nearly always maintain the level of giving required to meet or exceed their giving estimates. They seldom need more than a note now and then thanking them for their financial stewardship and enclosing a report of their giving and the estimate they made.
This approach consistently produces higher results than traditional approaches used to secure pledges.
Why Does The "Estimate Of Giving" Concept Work So Well?
Members receive a strong vote of confidence from their pastor, who presents the scriptural basis for financial stewardship, and those lay persons responsible for soliciting faithful responses to God's claim on their financial resources. In effect, the pastor and these stewardship leaders say by their actions, "We trust you to act responsibly in making decisions about your financial stewardship. You are mature Christians. You love God and care about funding the ministry of Jesus Christ, just as we do."
Members are very much aware of this positive attitude toward them. And they very often demonstrate their gratitude with renewed and increased giving!
Does This Program Include The Youth And Children?
It does. Youth and children who have made professions of faith and taken vows of church
membership are given the opportunity, along with their parents, to make stewardship responses by filling in estimate of giving cards. In fact, campaign leaders are encouraged to give all youngsters from the first grade up the privilege of turning in cards.
What better time is there to introduce the joyous discipline of giving than early in life?
A religious habit established while one is still young is a habit that may well last a lifetime,
having become a part of the individual's spiritual lifestyle!
The Pony Express program is designed to give these youth and children the same opportunity to make giving estimates that the older members of their family are given. And many of them do
participate ... with a real sense of "belonging" and "importance." They respond in just as enthusiastic a manner as their parents and grandparents respond. They, too, love the respect they are shown!
The Pony Express Stewardship Plan is a powerful program.
It is a program of maximum involvement in the solicitation of the estimates of giving. The relay system democratizes the solicitation, giving many, many members the chance to help with the campaign in a way that is comfortable and rewarding for them.
It is a program of minimum resistance due to the use of the "estimate of giving"
concept. Members who in the past have refused to sign pledge cards are willing to fill in estimate cards. Members who have made and paid pledges customarily treat their estimates as if these were pledges and pay them just as faithfully!
It is a program of total accountability within the framework of a very sound organizational structure. The various key workers are held accountable by other key workers, so that all features of the program are likely to be carried out on time and in appropriate ways. Each such person is held accountable, and each is supported in appropriate ways.
Churches For Which This Program Works Well
The Pony Express program is a natural for churches that desire to conduct a campaign that will produce increased giving AND a raised Spirit-level in a time of economic uncertainty or financial opportunity.
This program is a natural also for churches that need an organized campaign with effective leadership, and do not want to spend funds to hire a professional company to lead it.
The Pony Express Stewardship Plan works well for churches that have been using a Commitment Sunday(s) approach with diminishing responses, either in terms of numbers or amounts - or both!
It works well also for churches that feel the need of a "soft" approach to their members, having attempted hard approaches that have failed to produce the desired results or having used no serious approach at all.
Churches in Which The Program Does Not Work Well
This program does not work well for churches that have never conducted a financial solicitation using a developed organizational structure AND whose clergy and/or laity leaders do not think such a structure is necessary.
It does not work well for churches looking for a program that requires little effort, believing they will have - automatically - the financial support needed to be all and do all that God is calling them to be and do!
And, this program does not work well for churches whose leaders are unwilling to trust members to respond generously to the estimate of giving concept and insist on the absolute necessity of using the traditional pledge concept.
The Steps In Your Decision-Making Process Concerning This Program
The Pastor and the Finance Leader familiarize themselves with the campaign key worker positions and responsibilities. Both study the Timetable For Action (the campaign master calendar) to understand the preparation, execution and follow-up features. And, they examine the remaining contents of the Preview Kit, using the "map" provided as a guide from one envelope to the next.
The Pastor and/or the Finance Leader present the program to the financial stewardship committee for their consideration. Committee members are given the opportunity to understand the campaign's style, its flow, and the personnel needed to enable it to succeed. They are briefed on the organizational structure, the built-in accountability, and the approximate cost of the materials and other expenses, such as postage. They hear the strong testimonials of churches that have used the Pony Express home-to-home relay solicitation system. The committee members are given the opportunity to endorse the program and recommend its use to the church's primary decision-making body.
This larger body hears, considers, and acts on the recommendation of the financial stewardship committee. This recommendation includes a proposed Sunday date for the start of the Pony Express Run (0 Week Sunday) that does not conflict with another major church function or community activity.
Preview Kits are $69.95
Ordering Your Church's Pony Express Supplies from ChurchSupplier.com who now publishes these programs.
As soon as your church's primary decision-making body acts positively on the financial
stewardship committee's recommendation to use the Pony Express Stewardship Plan, the Pastor or Finance Leader, or another church official knowledgeable concerning the supplies needed, orders these without delay. A copy of the Order Form is used for this purpose. Desired quantities of the various items and calculated prices are filled in by the person ordering on the Order Form, using the Formula Sheet in the Preview Kit as a useful tool in figuring the needed quantities.