1. “Let Your Light Shine… and Shine!”
Based on Matthew 5:14-16 and our baptismal identity and purpose, we will promote legacy giving among every family in our congregation. Gifts given to our Foundation (or the ELCA Foundation or the Lutheran Community Foundation) would be gifts that would perpetually “let our light shine.”
Our team will work with our Foundation as well as with Pastor Keith Nelson of the ELCA Foundation (who will be here Nov.5-6) and Greg Shepherd in our region. We will identify and train key leaders who would then do home visits or home dinner gatherings in “telling the story” of how our legacy gifts will continue “to shine” for the work of God’s mission near and far.
Our Foundation has been strong in managing funds and faithful in distribution of grants and scholarships, but this “path” will help us better promote legacy giving for all families. Families need to “be asked.” We dream that we could have total future commitments of $10 million dollars. What a blessing and joy this would be for future local and global ministries! As our team travels down this path, we will evaluate our methods effectiveness and make adjustments as we proceed, to accomplish these goals for the sake of God’s mission in the world.
One question that we will continue to explore is, if in the asking, we need to provide people with alternatives with the receiving fund, that is, with our Foundation, or the other two mentioned above? One reason for asking this question is that our Foundation is managed by our own trustees. Would some families feel more secure with their gifts with a foundation that was managed outside, professionally? How best do we attract large legacy gifts?
Also, as we develop this “path,” this model, we ask how often this could be repeated in our congregation, so that more people, future families, will continue to be asked to participate in legacy giving, to “let their light shine… and shine!”
2. Healthy Habits
We would like to utilize the time between our first Sunday worship and Sunday School (8:30am - 9:20am) to have breakfast and work with families and children. We will be putting together a program based on existing workshops - maybe from Thrivent, columbusparent.com or sharesavespend.com. We need to put together an announcement and verify interest. This will probably take place in January/February and we would like to make it an annual event.
We want to improve discussions of stewardship as a faith practice in our households and hope this will be a spark for our families on how to have these conversations at home. Hopefully this will lead to an annual series going forward. Open discussions about stewardship outside of this event will be a great indicator of its success.
Our plan is to build this into the church calendar and that people will know that January/February is family planning time. We might move onto other topics besides stewardship, but think this is the best place to start. We are open to using existing workshops/ideas and will customize for our congregation.
3. "Let the River Flow!" and "Ventures in Growing Stewards"
These are two parts of one path that seek to encourage all congregations in our synod in faithful stewardship, even as we grow in our own.
“Let the River Flow” – this was a past stewardship emphasis at Ascension, based on Ezekiel 47 and the artwork of John August Swanson, that our team will share with each of the nine conferences of our synod at the bishop’s leadership events throughout our synod in September and October 2011. We will lead the Bible study at each event and be part of the panel discussion on faithful stewardship.
“Ventures in Growing Stewards” is the ELCA ministry that our congregation will participate in and our team share in the leadership in our synod. Ventures in Growing Stewards is a four-part workshop series that develops a vision and plan for growing stewards through a year-round stewardship ministry. The process is organic in that each congregation develops an approach to fit their context and culture. For many congregations this experience has included moving from a “paying the bills” approach to stewardship to a healthier response of “living the mission.”
As part of this workshop series, participants will receive tools to grow in their personal stewardship and resources to teach others. Each participant will receive online access to assessment tools, education materials, communication elements, and response methods. These will be helpful in completing the assignments between workshops and in implementing a year-round plan. Workshops in our congregation and synod will begin in the spring of 2012.
Our congregation, as we continue to learn and grow, seeks to be a resource to other congregations in our synod. With strong lay leadership and the ability to emphasize stewardship ministries in our budget and with staffing, we can “learn as we teach” others, as we learn from them too and grow together. We need to be using the good resources of our ELCA in the Ventures ministry. We seek stronger partnerships with our sister congregations and with God’s mission around the world. We will measure its fruitfulness in the numbers of leaders who are trained in our congregation in Ventures, as well as the number of congregations and leaders in our synod who are trained with the Ventures workshops.
To request a copy of the CD “Let the River Flow” with its stewardship resources, email firstname.lastname@example.org. It is possible to learn more about Ventures from the website of the ELCA or contacting Keith Mundy at email@example.com.