In 2006, Joyful Servant was engaged in a stewardship emphasis which included a capital fund drive to expand their facility.
This is a letter that he sent to the participants of the congregation giving a personal testimony of how he learned to give and how much he and his wife were going to contribute for the appeal.
Dear fellow Joyful Servants,
Stewardship has been a growing experience for me. I owe much to my mom and dad, and later to Windi's parents as teachers and examples. My mom is the practical sort who is always finding a way to do more with less--especially meals! My dad involved me in all kinds of projects from home remodeling to building a "lab" out of recycled materials (for my science experiments) to counting money with the ushers at church. I learned the importance of giving and to use (and reuse) materials wisely.
While in seminary, Windi's folks paid part of our rent each month for a year. I have no dramatic "Aha!" story, simply a growing awareness through the witness of others about being a giver and a steward of God's blessings.
As a child my parents would give me money to put in the offering. When I got my first job I got a box of envelopes like my folks and started putting my own offering "in the plate." I was not always consistent, and many times the lure of other things to spend money on would win. But I kept up the habit, becoming more intentional, regular, and generous. I have even come to the place that Glenn Reid talks about: moving from "have to" to "want to" to "get to!"
Windi & I give because we are blessed...blessed to be a blessing. We give because we have been given to, having numerous "teachers" and witnesses to the power and blessing of being givers. We realize that giving demonstrates our becoming joyful servants like Jesus. God is the Giver par excellence. We are simply called to trust and follow the model.
At times, as students or when living on one income, we "compared" ourselves with others (bemoaning our meager income), but we have always had our "daily bread." We're grateful.
Over the years we have grown in our giving so that we now tithe on our combined income at $165 a week. To move us forward in ministry with the "tool" of a new building, we are prepared to commit close to a second tithe of $150 a week. That will be a stretch, but it is a response to how we are being blessed. We believe the ministry we share with you is worth it.
Windi and I feel that God has called us into our vocations. We are committed to our callings and to you. We love being part of Joyful Servant, working with you to bring into being God's kingdom here in Newberg and beyond.
This fall we are taking a risk. We are responding to the need for more space in which to do ministry, from which to go out to do ministry, and to which we can invite others to experience God in our midst. I invite you to join us--at the level God has blessed you--as we answer God's call to be "joyful servants like Jesus, sharing God's love with the whole community."
Serving together with you,
Pastor Tom Struck
Tom Struck is pastor of Joyful Servant Lutheran Church, Newberg, OR.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.