The question of language comes up a lot in stewardship circles. I think the search for the right words suggests our discomfort with the present realities of stewardship in congregations. Words matter, and it’s hard to find the right words that connect us to deep, meaningful realities of money, God, and giving. In today’s post, stewardship leader Karen Johnson Kretschmann shares some of her search to match faithful words and action.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Speaking of Generosity
Karen Johnson Kretschmann
So many words that fill us with joy; who doesn’t love talking about thanksgiving, gratitude, blessings, gifts, abundance, and generosity? Yet these words make some of us quake in our seats if we have to talk about stewardship, fundraising, giving, money, or budgets. For the last several months since accepting the position of Associate for Generosity with the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA, these words have allowed me to share my passion for faith-filled giving, mission, and storytelling, but they have also kept me awake at night worrying over mission support, stewardship plans, pledges, and programs.
I am one of those people who actually likes the word “stewardship.” I trust it’s about caring for and protecting that which is entrusted to one’s care. While God has entrusted us with the care, growth, and delight of all that God owns, we are responsible for managing what God has given us, for God and the good of the kingdom. What an honor. Yes, what a responsibility.
As a person who likes organization and is also an extrovert, I was eager to create a way to use all these words to live out and proclaim relational and spiritual giving. The opportunity to attend the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising at Luther Seminary last spring presented itself, and I’m now reframing much of my thinking on this topic of money and the church. Having learned and laughed with an incredible group of ecumenical leaders, I came out of this training feeling empowered to boldly proclaim God’s case. We trust that if we speak with words that are honest, compelling, and relevant, words that are rooted in history and grounded in God’s mission, and if we articulate a thoughtful plan to steward gifts of time, talents, and financial treasures, we will provide inspiration for spirit-filled passion and generosity to abound.
I find myself grounded when I consider 2 Corinthians 9:11-12: “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.”
Generosity and stewardship: what we do to give thanks to our God. It’s what we do with what God has entrusted to us as caretakers for the good of the community of saints in our congregations, but even more importantly, for the good of the greater kingdom. My hope is that by working together as interconnected communities of faith, living Christ-centered lives, and celebrating God’s grace, we realize that asking for the abundant sharing of blessings and gifts opens the way for grace to abound, faith to grow, and mission in the name of Jesus Christ to flourish. Who doesn’t want to live that kind of generosity?
For More Information
Karen Johnson Kretschmann is the new Associate for Generosity at the Delaware-Maryland Synod in Baltimore, Maryland. Her career has primarily been focused on project and grant management; however, about 5 years ago she had the opportunity to join the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin staff and began her journey into stewardship. As a lay leader, she is always honored to share, connect, and communicate with others seeking to grow God’s church in the name of Jesus Christ.