When people think of stewardship they immediately equate it to “Time, Talent, & Treasure.” We know that Stewardship is a lot more than writing down your commitment once a year and then moving on with your life. It’s a Way of Life. Instead of one Stewardship Weekend a year at your parish, let’s re-think how we ask in 2019. As Julie Andrews sings, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”
Time in Prayer.
You thought I was going to say Treasure, didn’t you? Well, as I see it if we don’t start with Time and Prayer, then we’re just asking people to do community service hours with Talent and pay their dues with Treasure. If Stewardship is their way of life, then it starts before they give of their talents outside of attending Mass and opening their checkbooks.
As I work with parishes creating a Vision Plan and we discuss the pillar of Prayer, it gets pretty personal. Of course it does – prayer is our relationship with God. If we are praying with any sort of regularity then it’s quite personal as we bring our hopes, dreams, fears, desires, heartache, and praise to the Lord. However, we can challenge our parishioners to think differently about prayer and to pray for the parish.
How? With 3 simple asks in 2019, let’s think differently.
Ask families to commit to praying together each week either for a specific intention or with a particular prayer. At my parish they started this a few years ago with a Rosary Crusade Board. In the narthex one of the bulletin boards was converted to a magnet board with a print out of the rosary and 53 little rose magnets. Each week the Rosary Crusade Board is cleared and families are asked to commit to one rosary together that week. The kids move a rose magnet over one bead at the end of Mass. It’s a beautiful reminder for the whole community to pray each week, and a physical reminder for all of the families to commit.
One of the parishes I’m working with is going to put up an image of their parish with beads to outline the church asking families to pray the parish prayer together each week.
Ask individuals to commit to a prayer partner. This is a great way for parishioners to get connected. I shared this idea originally with a parish that has 5 teens in their Confirmation program and doesn’t have a youth ministry program. They don’t think they have the teens who want to be involved. I encouraged them to partner a teen with a senior or home-bound member of the parish to pray for them. They are going to swap first names of these two groups, encouraging them to pray each day for one another. I know I can always use some more prayer.
These partners might get to know one another, they might send encouragement notes, emails, or texts to each other, or (most likely) they won’t meet until Heaven. This is a great way to commit to prayer in particular, rather than in the abstract “let’s all just pray more this year.” Instead, let’s pray intentionally for each other this year.
Our 3rd and final new way is the Echo app. I discovered this about a year ago, and this year they made some amazing improvements for groups. People create an account (either through the app or on their computer) and they can keep track of particular intentions they want to pray for. They also have a new groups feature that allows people to subscribe, add intentions, and even respond to intentions. I think this is a great way for parishes to begin sharing prayer intentions. Someone in the office could add new intentions (using first names only if preferred) or parishioners could add them on their own.
Whatever your parish does regarding prayer this year, don’t just focus on it for a moment. Spend some time talking about how prayer makes a different, prayer matters, and prayer is our relationship with God. It’s one of the most significant ways we can come together as a community – which is why the Church says that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith.
What will your parish do to encourage prayer as a community in 2019?