The Synod Stewardship Team offers information, workshops and ideas to help create a culture of year-round stewardship in your congregation. For information contact the chair, Pastor Larry Smoose.
Generosity Stories: Win $500
The Synod Stewardship Team is asking you to tell us how generosity has brought positive change to your congregation through its Generosity Stories Video Contest. Short (two-minute) videos will have an opportunity to win a $500 grant for your congregation to hold a stewardship event or a free consultation from the stewardship team. Deadline is March 27.
Tip of the Month: Other Stewardship Topics
Year round stewardship enables us to lift up consistent themes about generosity and stewardship as a management function for the gifts and blessings entrusted to us by God.
Two of the important areas of stewardship will be highlighted by our country in April and it is a good way for our congregations to be in the forefront of these events. First is EARTH DAY.
Earth Day was thought up by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, who organized the first celebration in 1970, drawing over 20 million participants. In 2009, the United Nations adopted a consensus resolution designating April 22nd as International Mother Earth Day, recognizing the Earth and its ecosystems as our home. What better way to relate to an important topic than to observe this day in a serious, enjoyable and mission-focused celebration.
- Plan for a special Sunday celebration on the day closest to Earth Day – advertise it in the community, have some ecology projects for all ages, and invite community members to join you. Be sure to give thanks to our generous and loving God for this good earth.
- Develop an eco-ministry so members who have this passion can work throughout the year to lift up this important area of stewardship
- Go to ELCA.org and under resources, find a variety of ecology resources for seminars, workdays, and more.
- What ecological issues challenge our nation – can we sponsor a good discussion and make suggestions to our elected leaders?
The second important day is VOLUNTEEER APPRECIATION WEEK (April 23-29). Yes, it is right on the heels of Earth Day, but the last Sunday of April could be your Volunteer Appreciation Sunday.
- Celebrate your volunteers – list them for every group you can think of – choir, Sunday School teachers, VBS teachers, youth group workers, ushers, altar guild, committee members, mission trip workers – you get the idea. Yes, there is a danger of missing some – but the bigger danger is not recognizing them.
- Have a reception after services – consider a catered event so volunteers don’t have to prepare it!
- Calculate what it would cost if we had to pay all those volunteers for their vital work (the Federal Government has a scale for the value of volunteer labor). What would our budget be if we had to add that amount to it? Volunteers who generously give their time are the heart of ministry.
Get creative and use these two events to lift up these two important dimensions of stewardship and the lessons we learn from them:
- God will give me enough time for family and work and to share with the needs of others.
- Time management is an important dimension of my personal stewardship.
- God has provided this good earth and all of its resources and we need to thank God for it.We are stewards of this earth and need to make sure we care for the earth for future generations.
STRENGTHENING CONGREGATIONAL STEWARDSHIP – THE BASICS
MODEL IN THE CONGREGATION WHAT YOU WANT MEMBERS TO PRACTICE
- An attitude of gratitude – We are blessed by God, express that in worship, meetings, newsletters, etc. find ways to give thanks
- An attitude of sufficiency – God will give us enough for our needs AND to share with others (II Cor 8) Good stewardship is based on our faith in that promise from God and that faith is practiced by what and how we communicate about finances.
- First Fruits Giving – we want members to give first to God and to be confident they will still have enough for themselves. The congregation models this by giving first to Partnership Support, with confidence there will be enough for our ministry.
- Proportional giving that strives for Tithing and beyond. We encourage members to give proportionately – in accordance with what they have. We should model that and work to give at least 10% in Partnership support.
- Intentional Giving – we encourage members to make a commitment – for their sake, so that they can express their intent to God and plan within their budget to meet that commitment as they do for other commitments – mortgage/rent; food; car; insurance, etc. So our congregation makes a commitment for its Partnership support and for other benevolent giving.
- Regular giving – we encourage members to give weekly or monthly, knowing that is how we fulfill most of our budgeted expenses. Methods like Simply Giving, or an automatic bank payment are increasingly used. So the congregation should give its proportional share of Partnership support each month.
DEVELOP A CONGREGATIONAL PLAN THAT LIFTS UP A CULTURE OF GOOD STEWARDSHIP
- Recruit a team that includes people who exhibit best practices of stewardship (see above)
- Include people in various areas of stewardship (time/talent; stewardship of the earth; financial management)
- Don’t try to do it all at once – a culture of good stewardship will require 5-10 years of intentional planning/practice and a lifetime of reinforcement. Going step by step and trying a few things a year will be more productive.
- Include education – both for your team and for the congregation – go to workshops/events; read some good books; bring in local resources.
- Goals and specific plans to accomplish them are critical to accomplishing what you want.
- Stewardship involves many other areas of congregational life – work together with Education leaders, Worship team members, Outreach teams, and others to help them understand how stewardship is part of what they do and how they can be more intentional about best practices.
DOWNLOADING STEWARDSHIP RESOURCES
These instructions will help you download a variety of resources for Stewardship (and other congregational ministries) from the ELCA.
This is a valuable source of practical information and knowledge-building material to help strengthen congregational ministry.
- GO TO ELCA.ORG
- UNDER THE NAME/MOTTO LEFT CLICK ON “RESOURCES”
- SCROLL DOWN THROUGH THE ARRAY OF RESOURCE TOPICS TO “STEWARDSHIP” AND LEFT CLICK ON IT. (NOTE: THERE ARE OTHER TOPICS THAT COULD BE OF BENEFIT FOR STEWARDSHIP INCLUDING “STORIES OF FAITH IN ACTION”; “LUTHERAN DISASTER RESPONSE;” “GOD’S WORK OUR HANDS” AND OTHERS THAT CAN HELP TELL THE STORY OF HOW OUR STEWARDSHIP DOLLARS WORK AT THE CHURCHWIDE AND GLOBAL LEVEL.
- CHOOSE AREAS OF STEWARDSHIP FROM THE BAR – LEADERSHIP, CARE OF CREATION, FINANCES, LIFESTYLE, SPIRITUAL GIFTS, ETC.
- SOME OF THE MOST USEFUL, WHICH WE RECOMMEND FOR DOWNLOAD ARE:
- Giving Magazine
- The Generosity Project
- Kids, Money and Stuff (both a leader guide and participant book)
- Make it Simple congregational response program (A sample of the Make It Simple Commitment Sunday response calendar is included in this material, but other response methods and supporting materials are on this website)
- More Than Money – a workshop to help congregations look at their financial practices and levels of accountability.
- ELCA Stewards of God’s Love – a comprehensive manual for congregations that want to develop year round stewardship. This can be downloaded or ordered online.
- How Much Is Enough? An excellent 60 page booklet on personal stewardship in an age of abundance.
- Why Tithe (in the Finances category) helps youth or anyone consider a philosophy of sharing, saving and spending in responsible ways.