Behind the Numbers on a Spreadsheet

Date posted: Tuesday 17 April 2018

Dear friends,


One of the special opportunities I have as stewardship coordinator is to meet with Bishop Lull and Greg Triplett to mull over our mission support as a synod. I appreciate Bishop Lull’s insights, interpretations, and translations of numbers into larger stories. She never fails to see the good and holy work that our congregations are doing together in this place and in the world around us. As a fellow congregational worker, I am grateful for and humbled by the ways you all have committed your resources to the work of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, advocating for justice, and preaching the gospel. Thank you for what you have been doing and continue to do on behalf of Christ.


The spreadsheets that Greg makes for our meetings have congregations broken down into groups based solely on gross dollars committed to our shared ministry – this makes complete sense for accounting purposes. It is clear that our mutual work is made possible by a variety of large and small contributions. Many of the congregations that have given the greatest financial support – speaking in terms of gross contributions – have been doing so for years. However, this support is not simply a matter of the size of these congregations. I suspect it is much like looking over the giving records of our individual congregations. We are not surprised by some of those who give the most support, but we are inevitably surprised both by who does and who does not financially support.


The full story

Behind the numbers on the spreadsheet, there are a couple of different things at work. To see the bottom line, our giving as a whole has remained fairly consistent and dependable. The overall trends are – of course – an indicator of what has been happening in most of our congregations. However, the bottom line never tells the full story. And these are stories of renewal and re-invigoration!


One of the things that we have seen as a synod is that the congregations who have done the hard work of renewing their mission have also increased in their commitment to our work as a whole. I believe the healthy conversations and discernment that are part of that process leads to a deeper relationship with other congregations in our synod. These deeper relationships foster collaborative projects like the funding of mission partners, the important work of facilitating call processes, and more.


There are also stories of a deeper commitment to our common work that do not have their origins in the renewing mission process. Individual congregations – through strong volunteer and professional leadership – have decided that our work together is meaningful. Looking through the spreadsheets, you can see how these congregations have decided that a key part of their identity is in their relationship with the synod.


All of this is to say, that regardless of how your congregation has supported our common work, we should all be grateful that renewing mission, being steady supporters, and investing in relationships has been good and holy work. We could all take the time to give thanks for the work that happens in so many places throughout our synod. Thank you for your generosity and your partnership.


See you around the synod,



The Rev. Tom Jenkins

Stewardship Coordinator

Saint Paul Area Synod