Parishes all over the country are turning to stewardship to renew and revitalize their faith life.
If your parish has decided to embrace stewardship, it is important you connect what you’re teaching with the stewardship concepts. This is not a daunting task. Stewardship is not a foreign language or a religious program one needs special training to grasp. It is simply a deeper way to live the Christian faith. Stewardship is discipleship, so as Catechists of the faith, it is a great opportunity to teach the true meaning of being a disciple of Christ. Many of the concepts are already embedded within religion lessons, they just need to be drawn out.
Here are some suggestions:
Put God first – This seems like a basic but it needs to be mentioned often. In other words, start each day and year with announcements like,
- Because we put God first in all we do, we will begin each day (or this school year) in prayer.
- Putting God first, we will begin this lesson in prayer.
- Tonight, we will put God first by praying for His guidance as we proceed with this school board meeting.
Stress stewardship concepts of generosity, sharing, gratitude and trusting in God to provide for our needs. Make sure your lessons emphasize these points. Much of scripture and many religion lessons are built around one or more of these areas. For instance, point out that the boy who gave his fish to Jesus was a good steward by sharing what he had.
Do not shy away from teaching tithing. Tithing is the area we, as Catholics, are weakest. Children should learn not to come to God’s table empty-handed. Tithing is the way each of us can be a part of the Mass, giving back some of what God has blessed us with, for the good of all. Learning this as children makes it much easier to follow as adults.
Make opportunities for action available. Introduce group projects for every age level, not just as service hours for Confirmation. Find ways to reward individual efforts. Highlight good use of time and talent on bulletin boards, in newsletters, and in parish bulletins.
Use positive language. Using the word steward rather than volunteer adds an element of commitment. Talk time, talent and treasure, and stewardship as a way of life. These are phrases that will stick in young minds and will connect with the parish efforts.
Tailor lessons specific to stewardship. These can be used certain times of year, i.e. when the parish is doing the annual renewal. It should be emphasized at this time but not pigeonholed to a certain month. Stewardship is a way of life and needs to be woven into all areas of Catechesis, not used as a seasonal theme.
By following some of these simple steps you will be greatly aiding your parish by teaching some of its most enthusiastic members how to be true disciples of Christ with stewardship.
Roselyn Smith is a teacher and the Coordinator for Stewardship Education for Children and Youth at Blessed Trinity in Ocala, FL. She and her husband of 28 years, have raised six daughters, three of which were adopted.