Faith Raising - Not Fund Raising
A leader from a large ELCA congregation in the southwest has a stewardship lesson that carries far-reaching implications. During a particularly heated council meeting, the church's budget was a particularly touchy subject. After a while, someone grew tired of haggling over what they called "the details of the expense side of the ledger" and suggested that the council hear from someone on "the income side"--or better yet, one of "the fund raising people, you know, stewardship". The meeting was quiet for a moment, and then the stewardship chair leaned forward and said softly "we don't think of our task as fund raising. We are a faith raising team." She sat back, and her real meaning sank in.
The depth of the stewardship chair's words provides insight into what stewardship is all about.
What would happen in your congregation or synod if the ministry of stewardship was treated entirely as a faith-raising challenge?
All of your stewardship team's activities could center on what it would mean to grow faith in your congregation. Stewardship planning would become a primary emphasis, and a measurable tracking system would be developed.
How would you track faith growth?
Resources like Janet Hagberg's The Critical Journey can lay out a timeline and process for faith growth.
Year-round stewardship would become a much more manageable idea if all of the team's activities were centered on providing opportunities for faith growth in individuals and the congregation as a whole.
What would your congregation's annual financial response like in a process like this?
One possible scenario encourages an intensive immersion in faith building activities for the entire time of your congregation's response, and then a low-pressure invitation to respond to what God has done for the individual members of the congregation.
That invitation might summarize all the faith-building activities the congregation has been a part of and then say something simple like: "With all God has done for you, this is your opportunity to respond to God's love. Please consider what you might do."
One of the interesting facets of this invitation is it might be a financial response or it could be a response involving one of the other gifts that God has so generously given.
And if stewardship is "everything we do after we say 'I believe, '" then a multi-layered response is a wonderful opportunity!
How might this happen in your congregation?
Stewardship Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Any part of Salt Seasonings can be reproduced with attribution. All Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV).
Salt Writer, June 2004.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.