The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
This past summer, rostered ministers new to service in our church were invited to attend a stewardship retreat, "Love Let(s) Go". Recognizing that generational attitudes toward money and the church have shifted, the retreat discussed the need to re-examine existing models for stewardship. After the retreat, each participant was given $300 to steward in a way of their choosing. In a series of blogs, each participant will write about how they invested the impact of that money. Today, the Rev. Patrick Joiner writes about how his $300 was divided up to have triple the impact.
At the stewardship retreat this summer, I was hoping to receive a fool proof plan for stewardship that I could implement into my current call and carry with me throughout my time in parish ministry. To my surprise the retreat was not about a one size fits all plan for raising money in the church. Rather, the retreat focused on our personal experience with finances and how to encourage generosity in our congregations. This focus on generosity included generosity of God’s love and resources, and our ability to share God’s love and resources generously. To reinforce this theme, the synod gave the participants $300 each and challenged us to give these funds away.
I chose to give a portion of the money that I received toward camp scholarships for youth in my congregation. This gift made camp more feasible for youth in my congregation and it strengthened the relationship we have with summer camp ministry. I also gave a portion of these funds to the NAMI Mental Health Walk. The rest of the funds I cashed out in one-dollar bills. I use them to connect with the many folks that I see everyday as I exit and enter the freeway ramps near my home. By doing this, I have been more generous with my time. It encourages me to take just a minute out of my day to talk with people living in my neighborhood. On a few occasions I have even prayed with them, sharing God's generous love.
The retreat and the challenge helped me personally shift my view of stewardship from asking for money to promoting generosity. To help people of all ages try to live more generously, I implemented “God’s Generous Children” as our theme for Sunday school this year. We are focusing on Matthew 25 and we are learning about how God gives to us and how we are called to share that love and generosity with our neighbors.
The Rev. Patrick Joiner
Luther Memorial, South St. Paul