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[...]
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I have been thinking a lot about the words of the above verse lately in the wake of all we are going through as a world. As if COVID-19 was not enough, the murder of George Floyd in our own community and the unrest that followed served as a stark reminder of the pain that runs deep—especially for people of color who face the hatred of racism every day. Rejoice always? Give thanks in all circumstance? To be honest, that has seemed a bit impossible lately.
Yet, in the midst of my own reeling I have found reminder that God is present even in these hard times. The way that our congregations in this synod are stepping up and the way that one of our churches, Bethlehem in the Midway, opened their doors to the community in its time of need. And the response to that was awe inspiring as the community and the church— many churches—came together. So yes, I suppose I have been giving thanks even now. Thanks for the promise of a God that shows up again and again and again. Even when I may miss it.
That brings me to what I really want to write about. Stewardship. You see, to me, stewardship is at its core about saying thanks to God. It’s about giving back to God sacrificially and faithfully at all times out of the abundance of what God has blessed us with. That giving back takes many forms for sure but here I want to talk about the financial giving back. Even in a time like this—where COVID-19 has shaken up our economy—personally and in our communities—the call to give to God remains. I have heard from some leaders in our synod about the challenge of stewardship in this time. I get it. I do. And to that I want to offer a few opportunities for you and your congregation to consider. The Stewardship Committee of the synod is excited to walk with you in this new reality. And to that there are three specific offerings:
In this year of great uncertainty, "Beginning a Culture of Generosity" is a process to help congregations financially stabilize ministry as the congregation looks to the future. Ending 2020 with a strong annual appeal will allow congregations to move forward in hope, positively impacting their ministry decisions for the coming year. In the midst of a pandemic, strong congregations are needed more than ever as they proclaim words of hope, community, service and resurrection. "Beginning a Culture of Generosity" will provide a road map for congregations to follow, with a consultant meeting regularly with the cohort to clarify the process and ensure the greatest impact. The cost for this is $450. If your congregation is interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Stewardship Committee will be sharing the highlights from their February Tool Kit presentation around the concepts of Ask, Thank, Tell. This short video will be available soon and could serve a place to start conversation in your congregation as you work towards a fall campaign.
Does your stewardship team need a little help thinking through best practices or diving deeper into the work of generosity and giving? If so, the Stewardship Mentorship program may be for you. Experienced and passionate for stewardship pastors will work with your team directly. You will get two face-to-face (could be Zoom) meetings as well as availability for phone and email communication. The cost for this is $250. If you are interested in this, please email email@example.com.
I give thanks daily for the work going on in this synod. Thank you for being part of that.
Director for Evangelical Mission, Assistant to the Bishop for Next Generation Ministries