Stewardship Newsletter Jan 2023

Stewardship news and information from the ELCA

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“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
(Matthew 6:21).

It Begins
Both the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures and the book of John in the New Testament have creation stories. Beginnings. In these stories, slowly but surely, things come together.

In the U.S. we're taught to "start out strong," but my own Celtic heritage comes with a different take. Instead of urging worshipers to start out strong, the ancient Celts said pragmatically, "Every beginning is weak."

In other words: nothing comes out fully baked at the beginning. Be patient with yourself.

As we begin a new year, and as your ministry continues to change lives in the name of Jesus Christ, imagine a calendar that highlights different aspects of stewardship. Don't worry if you haven't figured it all out yet; every beginning is a bit weak.

The goal, though, is to begin. Too often we start to plan our stewardship calendars behind the proverbial eight ball, when we're caught up in Lenten planning, vacation planning, fall kickoff planning. It's never too late to begin, but those crowded moments are not optimal.

Where do we begin when planning a stewardship calendar? Well, a good place to begin is by taking stock of where you are and what you have. What families and individuals, both inside your congregation and in the wider community, have been changed by your work? Write down their names and imagine ways they might share those stories.

What cool things do you hope to accomplish with your community's gifts this year? Write them down. Imagine a schedule of sharing these "dreams become realities" in articles, social media posts, adult education, Sunday morning talks.

How do you steward the earth in your ministry? How do you steward your voice through advocacy? How do you steward your building to the betterment of your community? Write it down, both what you do and what you long to do, then look through the 12 months of the year and imagine times when you might emphasize different aspects of your work for your congregation and the wider community.

The list doesn't have to be complete, but now is the time to start. Every beginning is weak, but we are called to begin so that people can see our hearts in action through the work our community does.

We find ourselves in January, Beloved. Time to begin.


Tim Brown
Director for Congregational Stewardship

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New Date: Upcoming Stewardship Webinar
Have you ever wondered why people are generous in the ways they are? Curious to explore how you can tap into giving motivations to encourage generosity? In this increasingly post-pandemic world, rostered and congregational leaders might well explore some of the nuances of giver motivation with the upcoming webinar “Practical Stewardship Tips,” which is free and open to all. Stay tuned to ELCA communications for more information and the opportunity to register.

Mark your calendar – New date:
Practical Stewardship Tips
Wednesday, Feb. 1
6 p.m. Central

“Cultivating the Craft of Asking”
Start the new year learning new techniques to ask donors for financial support. In the MYTE Ministries webinar "Cultivating the Craft of Asking," you'll join peers in five interactive sessions and learn techniques to deepen donor relationships by connecting the church's vision to its mission. The webinar begins Thursday, Feb. 9, with morning and evening sessions available. The cost to participate is $150; register at

“Cultivating Generous Congregations” Cohorts
How do we, as communities of faith, change our thinking on stewardship and generosity to meet the challenges of the moment? In partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, we're offering congregations the opportunity to reexamine their stewardship thinking and imagine ways to act on their findings in their communities. Over six weeks, "Cultivating Generous Congregations" will offer virtual cohort sessions where congregational leaders will discuss, dissect and collaborate on how generosity can work within their contexts. The sessions cost $550 per congregation, plus workbooks, and qualify for Thrivent Action Grants.

Mark your calendar:
Cultivating Generous Congregations
Spring 2023 (Mid-April through mid-May)

More information to come!

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Are you looking for stewardship resources to fuel your ministries and your imagination? Here are a few places to find guidance and support:

Lutherans Restoring Creation. Whether you're interested in supporting creation care on an individual level or curious about what actions a whole congregation might take to care for the world God has entrusted to us, Lutherans Restoring Creation has resources to get you started. Care for creation is an act of stewardship!
Michael R. Ward's Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity (Fortress Press, 2020). Pastor and professional fundraiser Mike Ward has years of experience leading congregations and other nonprofits through transformational generosity. Using anecdotes and practical tips, Abundance invites the reader to reimagine how generosity works in their own life. Individuals, stewardship teams and congregational leadership teams will all find ways to use this book in their ministries.
Michael Mather's Having Nothing, Possessing Everything: Finding Abundant Communities in Unexpected Places (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2018). Methodist pastor Michael Mather weaves a story of how asset-based community development inspired a movement of advocacy and rejuvenation in his inner-city parish. The book offers insight and inspiration to those who dream of using their congregation's gifts to pursue justice and peace in their communities.
Have a great stewardship resource to share? Please send articles, books, movies and other media to The best gifts are those that are shared!
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Finding organic ways to speak about stewardship can be difficult, especially in relation to the lectionary texts. Not every sermon should be a “stewardship sermon,” but on any given Sunday, stewardship themes arise from the biblical witness and can be highlighted!

Below are just a few readings for Lent and Easter that might inspire thoughts on stewardship:

Matthew 4:1-11 | Feb. 26
On the First Sunday in Lent, Matthew invites us to consider how we steward our hearts, heads and whole bodies when pushed to our limits. The 40 days of temptation Jesus experiences in the wilderness—mirroring Noah's 40 days on the water and Israel's 40 years wandering in the desert—push him to his physical limits. How can we steward our bodies when we are under stress and duress? How does knowing that Jesus suffered temptation help us in our most trying moments?

John 9:1-41 | March 19
How do we share our stories with others? How might we testify to others how God has impacted our world with healing grace and overwhelming love? This Sunday's story from the Gospel of John centers on an individual born blind and prompts us to consider how we talk about God's work in our lives. How do we, as individuals and as communities of faith, explain to others what God is doing in our midst? How do we steward God's story, made real in us?

John 10:1-10 | April 30
Good Shepherd Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to highlight local agriculture, farmers and farm-workers. The distance between the pasture and the plate is quite a gap for most of us. If you have farmers in your community, name them today and thank them for their work. If you can highlight a farm-to-table market or food source, do so and connect it to God's call to steward our resources justly.

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