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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Internship Project Story: Susan I Olson, MS Ed.

Susan I. Olson, Pastoral Intern 2017-18, Long Lake Lutheran Church, Isanti County, Minnesota

Title of Project: Stewardship Task Force 

This project was and still is, a very important subject of interest to me. I believe first and foremost that since God created everything, everything belongs to God; and we are fortunate to be entrusted with much in our lives. We are entrusted to be stewards, not owners of these gifts. I am a good steward of my time, talents and treasures and am leading a Stewardship Task Force at LLLC to consider a holistic and multi-dimensional approach to a three year plan for my internship project. 

I took Adam Copeland's "Money, and the Mission of the Church," course in the fall semester of 2017 and got so motivated, I had to share this information with my congregation. The congregation has not had a formal stewardship drive for at least 10 years; no one that I asked could ever remember doing one, and they had no idea what a pledge or commitment card was. I felt they truly needed a big push on stewardship that would include a lot of education and leadership. I had just completed a successful stewardship drive, “Let Your Light Shine,” at Zion Lutheran, my home congregation in International Falls and had been involved in many yearly drives. I was pretty revved up about stewardship and giving back to God what was first given to us. 

I began with inviting a few key members to be on the Stewardship Task Force and set weekly meetings to study the book, “Embracing Stewardship, How to put stewardship at the HEART of your congregation’s LIFE,” by Charles R. Lane and Grace Duddy Pomroy. We met weekly and brainstormed ideas for a holistic approach, which would include financial planning, creation care, music, art, worship, newsletters, and other forms of education and communication. One of the team members was an artist, so we commissioned her to come up with our logo. We scanned many, many bible verses about stewardship and came up with James 1:17-18 for our theme verse. [17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.] 

Our team was on fire and couldn’t stop talking about stewardship. We gained a new member when the council stewardship chair switched to a new person, but still retained the original chair. We presented our ideas to the council and were validated and directed to go forth. 

Then, as if divinely ordained, the Minneapolis Area Synod invited us to join a cohort of congregations to work with Stewardship for All Seasons (SAS), a professional company, run by Richard Sayther of Gronlund, Sayther, Brunkow. For $1,000.00 we could get the benefits of professional guidance that would normally cost upwards of $20,000.00, including cohort meetings and personal visits with our own team. It was a no-brainer to join. SAS provided us with a workbook, which includes sample brochures, letters, timelines, checklists, bulletin inserts, and other forms of communication. It has a four- fold plan of Inform, Motivate, Ask, Thank. 

This type of project would be valuable to other interns because you learn by doing. I had quite a bit of knowledge going into the project, but I learned from researching, listening to others, and asking a lot of questions. This is a practical experience that would be useful in future ministry. We are called to be good stewards of all that God has provided. We have to model that behavior and we have to talk about money in the church. We have avoided the subject as people get really nervous; some people think that’s all we talk about, but, you know that is not true. Jesus talked a lot about money; why shouldn’t we? 

Our Stewardship Drive will begin September 16th and culminate on October 21st with a thank you dinner. We will use temple talks and testimonials, sermons, bulletin inserts, letters, commitment cards, brochures and electronic giving lessons. Our multi-dimensional approach will utilize a spiritual painting night, an organ concert, a movie night, Thrivent presentations, table talks, home visits, book studies, posters, focus groups, and more. I hope to have set this team on a mission to continue with intentional stewardship after I am gone. The groundwork will be laid so it will be easier for the next year’s drive to develop. 

I am truly anxious to see the results of this Stewardship Plan. We have a goal of increasing our giving by $60,000 in 2019 that we will present to the congregation. It will be presented as a Ministry Excellence Initiative. We have identified the wonderful things already happening at LLLC, identified the needs and opportunities along with dollar figures to accomplish addressing thos needs, and a Dream Big strategy for an upcoming capital campaign that will begin in 2020. Exciting, eh? 

Yours, in Christ, 

Intern Pastor Sue Olson

Long Lake Lutheran Church

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