From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Congregations Move from 'Scarcity Thinking to Abundance'

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Thu, 6 Feb 2003 15:52:11 -0600


February 6, 2003


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In the context of the current economic climate
in the United States, the stewardship ministry of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is providing the 10,766 congregations
of the church opportunities to move from "scarcity thinking" toward
"abundance and generosity" with a new "money leadership" approach.
     Nancy L. Snell, director for stewardship and mission giving, ELCA
Division for Congregational Ministries (DCM), said stewardship has often
been about "dealing with scarcity."  In an interview, Snell said "there
is abundance and generosity" in stewardship ministry.
     "People are generous.  If we base our ministry in congregations on
an asset-based approach -- looking at what we have instead of what we
need -- we can quickly learn what we can accomplish and how we can do
it.  That becomes a whole new way for a congregation to be and think
about itself with some confidence," she said.
     "Stewardship is not always about money; it's about how we live our
lives, about how we live out the call that God has for our lives.  But,
because we are a 'money society'; we think of stewardship in financial
terms.	If stewardship is our response to God's love and how we're
living out our lives, then stewardship has a lot to do with how we
manage our money, how we give and set priorities," Snell said.
     The ELCA stewardship team has produced a series of resources
designed to make stewardship "exciting," said Snell.  "We want to bring
Technicolor to stewardship and make it something that people are not
afraid of in the church."
     The new stewardship resources are crafted so that congregations
can start a stewardship program, connect its mission, vision and goals
with funding, and develop sound principles for money leadership and
management, Snell said.  They are also designed for pastors to help
"lead the way" in congregational stewardship, she said.
     Developed by the ELCA and the Alban Institute, Bethesda, Md., "The
Whys and Hows of Money Leadership: A Curriculum for Pastors and Lay
Leaders" is a seven-lesson curriculum that examines the connection
between personal experiences with money to one's spiritual journey and
"congregational economics" -- connecting a congregation's mission,
vision and goals to its use of money.
     "Pastors often feel inadequate in dealing with stewardship issues.
A lot of that stems from their own insecurity about how they manage
their own personal finances," Snell said.  The seven-course curriculum
begins with the personal management of money and "moves to how to
connect money to faith" and "into the corporate structure of the
church," she said.
     The curriculum was originally put together for people coming out
of the seminary.  Some new pastors "have given zero thought to the fact
that they will be the chief person in the congregation responsible for
funding that church.  So, we put this curriculum together hoping that
pastors will feel confident that they can become stewardship leaders,"
she said.
      Another new resource produced by the ELCA stewardship team
designed to ground pastors and lay leaders in stewardship theology is
"Step by Step: Fostering Financial Stewardship in Your Congregation."
The 48-page booklet provides 17 steps to help congregation leaders
implement a "solid" stewardship foundation.  It includes a "bonus
section" on the theology of stewardship, Snell said.  The booklet was
written by the Rev. Michael L. Meier, director for leadership
development, DCM.
     The booklet was developed because congregations interested in
starting a stewardship ministry asked for a "stewardship primer" or
"stewardship 101," Snell said.	In response to that request, the ELCA
stewardship team produced "Step by Step," which has become "hugely
popular," she said.
     The ELCA stewardship team has produced a different resource called
"The Great Permission: An Asset-Based Field Guide for Congregations." It
offers new ways for congregations to maximize their stewardship
potential, Snell said.	The 140-page "field guide" assists congregations
with "mapping their assets" and illustrates some general principles of
abundance and generosity, she said.  It also includes case studies,
"how-tos for congregational leaders," workshops and Internet-based
     Future stewardship resources will focus on the notion of
accountability, Snell said.  "The notion of accountability really began
with Enron and our country's concern with accountability," which has
been "a negative term," she said.  "I think accountability is a love-
your-neighbor-as-yourself kind of issue," Snell added.
     The ELCA stewardship ministry team holds an annual Stewardship
Leadership Conference every year.  It brings together more than 200
Lutheran stewardship leaders, mission interpreters and partners, and
staff from the ELCA churchwide office, congregations and 65 synods.  The
next conference will be held here at the Marriott Hotel O'Hare Feb. 6-9.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, will deliver a
keynote presentation Feb. 6.
_ _ _
     Information about the ELCA's stewardship ministry and resources
are maintained at on the Internet.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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