1. Holistic Stewardship—Whole Person as Steward
The first part of this path is a general focus of what how stewardship concepts are interwoven with other ministries and areas of responsibilities of the congregation and its leadership. We will consult the ELCA year-round stewardship planning calendar to help us lift up stewardship throughout the church seasons.
Three areas have been identified: 1. All we are in our diversity, 2. All of our relationships with God, one another, family, earth and creation, and 3. All we share—time, talents, treasure.
The Vibrant Stewardship Team will develop strategies that look at being faithful stewards of all we have to share.
Our first activity is the Fall Stewardship Series. It will be similar in structure as described above in Our Current Practices. This year we will offer a series of studies based on the Biblical Stewardship Our Duty and Delight by Mark Allan Powell. This will culminate with financial pledges being made on Joy of Giving—Commitment Sunday.
This will be followed with the opportunity for individuals to explore and discover their spiritual gifts. Plans are being made for a Ministry Fair that will hopefully open doors for greater participation and places for people to serve that match their gifts and passions. Each ministry leader is being asked to identify all the ways someone might be involved in that ministry form possibly providing snacks or rides to assuming leadership roles. We will follow this event with pledges of time and talent being made on Joy of Serving—Commitment Sunday.
An increase in the number of pledges being made, participation in the Spiritual Gifts class, numbers who attend the Ministry Fair, and number of time and talent pledges can all indicate fruitfulness of this path.
2. Getting in Where You Fit In
"Getting in where you fit in" is our second path. Our goal is to broaden the spectrum of members to actively engage in the ministries of the congregation. We plan to use a matrix spreadsheet that will help identify current levels of participation of individuals of the congregation, children and youth included. We will challenge ministry leaders to identify 2-3 ministry points of entry in order to offer the congregation more specific opportunities for service. With information gathered from the Ministry Fair and Joy of Serving Commitments, we will look for ways to invite those less involved to "get in where they fit in." This will likely involve one on one conversation and invitation over time as relationships are built.
We know that commitment increases when people get involved in ways that have meaning for them and they see that their gifts are valued and needed. We need to empower and encourage the use of all God’s gifted people.
The fruitfulness of following this path will be seen in the number of people moving from the periphery into more participation in the current and possibly the creation of new ministries as giftedness and passions are discovered.
3. Financial Literacy
Financial literacy is our third path. Recognizing the negative stigma associated with having difficulty or not knowing how to manage money, we believe that we need to begin with providing opportunities for one on one counseling for individuals. We hope to develop a network of volunteer financial counselors, perhaps in partnership with neighboring congregations. We will offer financial literacy counseling to those who have recently received emergency financial assistance from the church, and we will look for ways to help people self-identify as needing and wanting assistance. Then as people become more comfortable with talking about personal financial issues offer we may offer classes/workshops/discussion groups that would cover topics of budgeting, decision making, planning. We will need to be sensitive to individual experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs about money management given the great diversity that is part of who we are at Peace and our community as a whole.
We want to include opportunities for our youth and children to gain financial literacy and how their choices and decisions impact them and their futures.
The Vibrant Stewardship Team is looking at a variety of materials and other resources and possible partnerships with other agencies to support this effort.
This was an identified need in the surveys and interviews. The need is seen in many ways—from the very practical and basic practices of budgeting, banking, saving, prioritizing spending, spending within one’s means, sharing, to wills and estate planning.
We hope to connect more people to those who will guide and encourage them to learn ways to effectively manage their income and make wise choices. We hope to see fewer repeat requests for funds from our Emergency Assistance Program as families “learn to fish” so to speak. We look for openness and willingness to participate and share experiences in group settings and to hear a sense of freedom and confidence in managing and sharing our treasures.