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Value of Lay Witnesses

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Value of Lay Witnesses

Stewardship, lay witness


What is a lay witness presentation?

Simply put, a lay witness presentation is the communication of an individual testimony.  Individuals share with the parish community their personal life experiences in giving of their time, talent and treasure in a planned, proportionate way.

Why do we need them?

An important part of stewardship is embodied in the stories and testimonials delivered to the entire congregation by individuals whose lives have changed as a result of stewardship.  They are vital to the success of the parish program.  These testimonies allow fellow parishioners in the congregation to share their own faith story. Their experiences demonstrate their commitments to their faith and how their giving of time, talent and treasure is a key part of their faith.  Stewardship is a result of the internal change of heart, or conversion process we know so well from the scriptures. People are motivated by hearing that “giving of one’s time, talent and treasure” is working for other people, especially people that seem just like them.

Who should be a lay witness?

The most inspirational lay witnesses are individuals from the parish who believe and practice the concept of stewardship.  They give of their time, talent and treasure in an intentional, planned and proportionate way.  They also are individuals who can relate well to other parishioners, and feel comfortable speaking to a group about their experiences.

Here is a simple outline for a stewardship presentation by a lay witness.

Introduction - Lay witnesses introduces themselves and describes their affiliation with the parish. They express gratitude for the opportunity to speak on stewardship.

  • Scriptural references - Be aware of the scriptures assigned for that Sunday, and use those in preference to others if possible.
  • Properly define Christian Stewardship - Stewardship is a response we make in gratitude to God for what God has given to us. We put God first in our lives by giving in gratitude a portion of everything God has given to us. The gift is more meaningful if it is a sacrifice that affects our lifestyle. We need to be changed in some way by our giving.
  • Witness Section - Be sure to answer these questions:
    1. When did I first hear about stewardship?
    2. What was my initial reaction to the concept of stewardship?
    3. What motivated me to accept stewardship as a way of life?
    4. When did I begin to experience the benefits of stewardship?
    5. How does my family give of time, talent, and treasure?
  • Invitation - Ask the members of your parish to examine what God has given them and make a response.
  • Remember - People can understand much more easily the concept of God’s blessings as compared to a parish budget.  When the emphasis of giving is placed on giving out of gratitude, they begin to give themselves…the way God wants them to. This type of giving brings joy.

 

Do’s and Don’ts 

DO:

Explain that stewardship means giving of the “first fruits,” not what is left over.

Talk about the personal need of each Christian to give thanks.

Stress “Many of you know from your own experiences that what I have told you is true”.

This is a way to thank those who are already practicing stewardship.

Stress the joy and fulfillment that comes to those who give God the first share of their time, talent, and treasure as a way of expressing their gratitude and trust in God.

Talk about intentional, planned and proportionate giving.

Emphasize that it is important to give all three - time, talent and treasure.

Explain that stewardship involves not only church (parish and diocese); it also includes community.

DON’T

Stress church needs or budgets.

Talk in bargaining terms (e.g. “I gave this much time or treasure and God gave me this in return.”)

Talk in specific dollar or time amounts.

Use threats of possible consequences stemming from the failure to give.

Suggest that parish stewardship is an obligation.


The above information is from “Stewardship: disciples respond, a practical guide for Pastoral leaders."

Please see book for full details.

Additional help:

The Archdiocese of Chicago has an excellent page on lay witness talks.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page for ideas on lay witnessing using couples, groups and dramatizations.