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 set out in the constitution of the Methodist Church, The Constitutional Practice and Discipline, which is known as the CPD. To find out more about this document follow this link.
Some of the responsibilities church stewards have are...
- Contacting the visiting local preacher before the service to fill them in on the traditions and customs of their church.
For example at what point in the service the offering is taken and if the children leave during the service to attend their own activities.
- 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.
- Keeping up to date with safeguarding matters.
For the latest safeguarding news and information see the Safeguarding pages.
- 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 Resourcing local arrangements 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.