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Stewardship's new CEO talks money, leadership and more

"We'll inspire generosity, aid discernment in giving, and strengthen churches and causes," says CEO

With a solid and, no doubt, lucrative background in financial services, Stewart McCulloch, who has been appointed chief executive officer of Stewardship, left it all behind to "devote all of his energies and talents to working for the Lord". In this interview, the former VisionFund director shares his thoughts on discernment in giving, helping churches to be good stewards of money, and much more.

Ram Gidoomal CBE, Stewardship’s chair of trustees, says the panel had to choose from a competitive field of candidates, and they unanimously selected you. In your view, what made you stand out?

I was humbled to be selected by the trustees to lead Stewardship. I obviously have no knowledge of the other candidates. I believe that the trustees recognised in me: a Christian spirit with the heart to take on this ministry, an experienced professional equipped to be a good steward, and a servant leader ready to take the wonderful team at Stewardship on the next stage of its journey.

How have your previous job roles, for example your stints at Ernst and Young, PwC, Willis and other organisations, equipped you for this position?

I have more than 30 years of experience in blue chip professional and financial services, with the last five years in World Vision, the international Christian charity. This has equipped me with the breadth and depth of experience to lead Stewardship in full alignment with its core values of excellence, integrity, relationship and generosity. I have also been a church treasurer and a regular giver, so come with an empathy for our givers and causes.

It’s clear you’ve been appointed to build upon the solid foundation laid by your predecessor. How will you do this?

Mike O’Neill goes back to his native America, having built an amazing team at Stewardship – I have some big shoes to fill. Mike planted the seeds, and it is now my job to grow a rich harvest for the Lord. Mike and I had the blessing to have a hand over’ period and get to know one another as brothers in Christ. I will see him again in the US in October as we seek to partner internationally to serve God’s kingdom.

Stewardship prides itself on helping Christians to invest in the kingdom of God’. With so many worthy Christian charities to support, as well as Christians’ responsibility to support the local church, how do believers get giving right’?

At Stewardship we provide support to our givers online, over the phone and in person. Through using Share magazine, campaigns such as 40acts, and our social media presence, we seek to inspire the generosity of our amazing community of givers. 

Furthermore, we work tirelessly to strengthen churches and charities to ensure that they achieve extremely high standards of stewardship in how the funds raised are used. I am particularly proud of our work in church planting, charity formation and supporting individual ministry. Looking forward, we will be continually developing our services to inspire generosity, aid discernment in giving, strengthen churches and causes; and so to grow the investment in God’s kingdom.

You’ve had a successful career in finance, which was undoubtedly professionally and financially rewarding. Why did you decide to move on from the financial services industry to the charity sector?

A little over five years ago I came to the realisation that I wanted to devote all of my energies and talents to working for the Lord. I talked to a few friends who had made similar transitions and in a thoughtful and prayerful way began to explore my options. Very quickly I found myself in conversation with World Vision and soon after joined VisionFund’s microfinance network. I must say that I have not regretted the change for a single moment; indeed, I would say that it has been a real boost to my spiritual growth!

To what extent would you agree with the view that many Christians gain good work experience and develop a robust skills set at secular organisations, which they are then able to apply in Christian charities and churches for the glory of Jesus Christ. 

I believe that Christians can make a huge difference, each and every day, whatever their context or line of work. Stewardship thrives on the hard earned money of generous Christians from all walks of life. That said, organisations like us flourish by recruiting Christians from the private sector who have the skills and experience we need to serve the Lord.

The Evangelical Alliance, of which Stewardship is a member, is committed to helping emerging Christian public leaders in their 20s and 30s to reach their potential for the furtherance of the gospel. What words of advice and encouragement would you give to the next generation of leaders?

My wife and I have five children in this age group, and Stewardship is already growing a diverse generation of young new leaders to succeed my generation. I truly believe young people of this next generation are superbly equipped to rapidly grow into the leaders of organisations like Stewardship. They are inspired by the meaningful and missional careers we offer, they are natural networkers suited to serve our community, and they have grown up to do this in a technology enabled way. I see a generation that is hungry to make its mark on the world, and I encourage them to do so.

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