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Church Steward

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Church Steward

What is a Church Steward?

Church stewards are right at the heart of the local church. Working as a team with other stewards and alongside ministers, deacons and probationers they have responsibility for the full scope of the church’s life and activities. This key role means that Church stewards have the dual responsibilities of leadership. Which means that they need to:

  • have vision and good planning skills; AND
  • be caring, supportive, and mindful of other’s needs.

Church stewards work in a voluntary capacity, so their responsibilities are balanced alongside their personal commitments, family and social life. If you are a church steward you will know that you rely a great on your organisational strengths and deep reserves of patience!

What do church stewards do?

Church stewards have been around since the 18th century when John Wesley recognised that ministers, who because of the itinerant nature of their role, are often unable to oversee every matter in church life. And so, the role is tightly woven into the DNA of the Connexion. While church stewards are responsible for practical things, such as looking after local preachers who are visiting their church, making sure the offering is taken and announcements are made that’s not where it ends! There are also responsibilities which have more of an overarching reach.  For example, church stewards focus on fostering unity within the church and ‘talent spotting’ those with potential, encouraging them to become involved in leadership roles. They also make sure that any new policies which are made by Synod and the Church Council are communicated to their congregation, ensuring that decisions are upheld and acted upon.

Church stewards’ duties are formally set out in the constitution of the Methodist Church known as Constitutional Practice and Discipline, or CPD, for short

Some of the responsibilities church stewards have are:

  • Welcoming the local preacher before the service: The preacher might have travelled quite a distance or feel nervous, so a friendly face and prayer will probably be most appreciated;
    Looking after the local preacher when the service is over. Church stewards should always ensure that the local preaches has an invitation to a meal after the service and should offer to pay their travelling expenses;
  • Working with others: Collaborating and cooperating with those who are also involved in the Sunday service, for example worship leaders, organists, crèche and Sunday School leaders to ensure that the service runs smoothly.
  • Greeting all churchgoers: Whether they are new faces or old friends it is vital that people feel welcomed in our churches. A genuine smile can make all the difference! Often Welcome Teams are set up;
  • Organising an alternative service if the appointed preacher does not turn up! If there is a minister or another local preacher in the congregation ask if they would be happy to help out. In the event that there is not spare local preacher to hand the church steward will need to step into the breach. Copies of services which would be appropriate to use in these tight spots, called Readers’ Services, are available on the Local Preachers pages;
  • Attending official church meetings. These include the Circuit Meeting, the Church Council, the General Church Meeting and the Pastoral Committee.

Church Stewards and the Sunday experience

The practical duties church stewards carry out are crucial to creating a positive experience both for the visiting local preacher or minister and the congregation on a Sunday morning.

For many people the Sunday service, rather than housegroups or interest groups, is where they find their main point of connection with the church. More churches are also finding that a growing percentage of their congregations feel a strong sense of belonging but are unable to attend every week. For churchgoers, and for the regulars, there is an even greater need for continuity and quality in the church service.

Church stewards have a key role to play in enabling a worship service which expresses Kingdom values of grace, love and unity.

How are church stewards appointed?

While prayer should underpin the process by which prospective church stewards are appointed there are some practical boxes to tick.

Informal conversations kick off the process. Often existing stewards, the presbyter or other groups and individuals within the local church will have someone in mind. The prospective candidate is then asked, either by letter, phone or a face-to-face chat, to consider the appointment. It is important that enough time is allowed for them to think about how the role will balance with family life and other commitments.

The practice of pre-selection should be carefully judged so that the post remains open to all those eligible within the local church, and not just those the existing stewards know well.

However, the church can really benefit from this approach as it allows those with experience to use their valuable insight and can help build up a practice of ‘succession planning’, helping to ensure the post can always be filled.

Once a potential church steward has agreed that they are ready and willing to take up the role a written nomination is given to the minister, who then takes it to the General Church Meeting. It is there that the formal process of appointment happens, when the members of the General Church Meeting vote.

Who becomes a Church Steward?

Across the Connexion, and among church stewards, all backgrounds, ages and races are represented. However, there are some common personal qualities among those who take on the role of church steward.

Some of these qualities are:

  • Enthusiasm and friendliness
  • Commitment to values of trust, reliability and confidentiality
  • Faithful spirituality, meaning a commitment to prayer, people, worship and the encouraging of gifts in others
  • Prepared to live as an example of Christian living

Because this is such a crucial role in the local church it is vital that church stewards feel confident in their abilities and are clear about the expectations of the circuit, the congregation, other stewards or ministers.

By | 2017-11-30T14:27:14+00:00 June 22nd, 2015|Running the Church|0 Comments

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