People’s understanding of their calling to make a difference through their congregation significantly affects their engagement, leadership and financial support. In addition to making meaningful ministry happen, it is vital that congregations continually teach, inspire, challenge, and affirm stewardship principles and generosity.
Emphasize Stewardship and Discipleship Year-Round
When Jesus reminds us that the most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, Jesus probably wasn’t thinking this directive was only worth emphasizing one time per year. Instead, when Jesus says all, most likely he meant it was applicable all times of the year and includes all of who we are. Following Jesus is about total engagement 24/7/365.
Of course, this is more easily aspired to than lived out, which is why we need to keep teaching, inspiring, and challenging people to imitate Jesus throughout the year. Our roadblocks to this kind of living are less about deficits in head knowledge and more about our daily choices and behavior.
It doesn’t seem fitting then to have a one-time per year thrust to get people to give money to our congregations. What makes more sense is to talk continually to people about the difference they make as stewards, both through their congregation and through the ministry of their daily lives. A year-round stewardship emphasis finds a variety of ways to encourage people to live and lead with generosity and compassion in everything they do.
Even if year-round stewardship emphasis is not immediately achievable, keep it as a goal and look for ways to move in that direction.
Provide Options for Online Giving
Getting people to automate their giving is a powerful way to move beyond intention to implementation. Without a plan, personal expectations to be generous can be foiled by irregular church attendance that leads to irregular giving and unfulfilled commitments and pledges.
Online giving not only allows for people to give independent of weekly attendance; it also gives people ways to make gifts using credit and debit cards and electronic fund transfers as they do with other financial transactions. Statistics show people are limiting the use of cash to smaller and smaller amounts and writing fewer and fewer checks. Online giving is an important way for congregations to continue to receive larger gifts and to benefit from a more uniform cash flow across the year.
As technology advances, look for ways to expand giving options with more features and greater simplicity.
Participate in the Larger Church through Mission Support
For many people, the Lutheran Church is probably the most important organization they belong to for making the world a better place in the name of Jesus. The larger ecology of the ELCA includes over 3.5 million people embracing ministry in their daily lives, over 9,000 congregations working collectively to provide care for their constituents and communities, and 65 synods walking alongside congregations and supporting local partners including camps, colleges, and seminaries. Furthermore, the churchwide organization provides leadership and collaboration for a broad range of ministry initiatives on behalf of the whole church, both nationally and globally.
Mission Support enables the ELCA’s congregations and synods to pool resources to love and serve our neighbors in ways that no individual, congregation or synod can do alone. It shows how we are church together and it is essential to who we are as the ELCA.
Mission Support is a primary funding mechanism for the ministries stewarded by both synods and the churchwide organization. Congregations are encouraged to share with their synod a tithe of ten percent or more of what is shared in regular giving from their members. Synods retain a portion of this and share a portion with the churchwide organization. Synods are encouraged to maintain or increase this portion shared with the wider church each year.
Just like there are always opportunities to grow in our personal giving, Mission Support is a place where congregations can make gradual increases to support the ministries stewarded by synods and the churchwide organization.
Provide Feedback to Resourceful Servants
The Congregational Certificate Program is currently in the pilot phase. If there is a resource that is particularly helpful to you, or one that is not helpful, or if you believe a healthy congregational behavior is missing from our list, we want to know about it.
Use the Congregational Certificate Feedback Survey to guide your specific feedback to us. We will take all this feedback into account as we enhance this site.
Track Your Progress
Track your congregation’s improvement on healthy financial behaviors using the Congregational Portal. Start by indicating your congregation’s current proficiency on the behaviors associated with each of the 5 modules included on this website: Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Risk Management and Stewardship.
As your congregation implements new behaviors, log in to the portal, find the behavior and indicate your improved proficiency.
To log in, you will need your five-digit congregational ID and the password provided to you to complete your 2016 Annual Report. If you need this information, contact Resourceful Servants at firstname.lastname@example.org.