From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Stewardship Leaders Are 'Circulatory System' of the ELCA

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Tue, 18 Feb 2003 12:52:15 -0600


February 18, 2003


     CHICAGO (ELCA)   More than 200 stewardship staff, mission
interpreters and partners coordinators	 volunteers who tell the
stories about the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA)	 and others gathered for the Stewardship Leadership
Conference and heard they are the "circulatory system" of the church.
Staff of the ELCA Division for Congregational Ministries (DCM) hosted
the annual conference Feb. 6-9 here at the Marriott O'Hare Hotel.
     "Mission interpretation is key in order" for the 10,766
congregations of the ELCA "to share a portion of their income with
the 65 synods of the church for synodical and churchwide ministries,"
said Nancy L. Snell, director for the stewardship and mission giving
ministry team, DCM.
     "When people join ELCA congregations, they become a part of
many, many ministries that make a difference in the lives of others
domestically and globally.  Mission interpretation works to inform
members and friends about ELCA ministries that are being carried out
beyond their own walls," she said
     Snell added that a purpose of the conference was "to share new
resources, to provide a way for participants to network and share
ideas with one another."
     In a keynote presentation, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding
bishop of the ELCA, called mission interpreters, partners, members of
the Lutheran Laity Movement, stewardship staff and others "the
circulatory system" of the church.
     "You are the ones woven from congregation to synod to
churchwide and back again that brings life and the message of God's
salvation, a vision for mission and conversation about stewardship
which contributes to the life-blood that keeps the circulatory system
going.	You are the ones who always express gratitude on behalf of
this church to others," said Hanson.
     "We can't talk about mission support until we define mission.
I think that's the challenge facing the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America," he said.  "We are a church only 15 years of age.  But, I
think we've come to a time in the life of the ELCA when the issues
that divide us have become the issues that define us."
     Hanson defined mission as "what God is up to in and for the
sake of the world.  When we talk about mission, we talk about the
mission of God."
     He encouraged participants not to start their ministry "by
talking about money."  Instead he offered to begin by "talking about
mission, invite people to prayer, Holy imagination, a sense of
expectation and urgency that the ELCA is not defined by issues that
divide but by God's mission that unites us."
     Hanson encouraged participants to "live among God's faithful
people.  If the leaders of this church do not take the call to
evangelical witness in a way that causes to invite and bring with us
unchurched people, to hear the good news of God's love in Christ
Jesus, this church will continue to decline."
     As the circulatory system, Hanson said stewardship leaders
should be "savvy about how we communicate the story of what God is up
to in and to this church with members of this church."
     "In the age of communication, we may have undersold the power
of personal testimony," Hanson said.  "Speak the truth of what we see
that God is up to in our lives, the ministry of our congregation, the
work of the churchwide organization and in the world with such
clarity and conviction that other people may make a decision about
their life, faith and money that will be dependent upon and in
response to our testimony."
     Hanson said Lutherans "will not increase mission support until
we define mission in a way that elicits participation in and
excitement about, until we look at how we communicate the story of
what God is up to and until we become a testifying church." He said
that mission support will also not increase "until we stop providing
excuses for people not to give" and added, "You in the circulatory
system, including synod bishops, churchwide leaders and synod
council, need to create a culture in this church that expects
generosity and will hold one another to accountability."
     Other speakers at the conference included the Rev. Ruben F.
Duran, executive for new congregations, ELCA Division for Outreach,
and the Rev. Mark R. Moller-Gunderson, DCM executive director.
     The conference also featured several six-hour learning tracks
and workshops.	Topics ranged from faith and money to working with
people with "big money," youth and young adult stewardship to
accountability, and communication styles to reinventing the ELCA
World Hunger Appeal.
     Mark L. Vincent, lead partner, Design for Ministry -- a
contract and consulting network based in Mukwonago, Wis., that
assists congregations and other service-minded businesses -- led a
workshop on faith and money.  He told participants, "Money is the
place where faith and life intersect.  It is a gateway to the spirit
and a catalyst for talking about God's kingdom."
     Vincent offered three principles for money management.  The
first is "planned scarcity.  You don't live out of a false sense of
scarcity," he said.  "The second is manage money together.  Do it
with some capacity of others knowing.  And third, purchase only what
can be easily replaced."
     Vincent introduced "The Whys and Hows of Money Leadership: A
Curriculum for Pastors and Lay Leaders," a new seven-lesson
curriculum developed by the ELCA, the Alban Institute, Bethesda, Md.,
and funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., Indianapolis.  The curriculum is
designed to help pastors and others take the lead in congregational
money management.
     "It is right and proper for a pastor or other member of the
church to be a leader when it comes to money," Vincent said in an
interview.  Money management involves the "integration of theology
and practice and competence on the enterprise part of the church.  As
the church spends money, uses money and reports on money, the church
is connecting to what is its mission."
     Other highlights of the conference included worship and a
series of "network" meetings.  Stewardship staff, mission interpreter
and mission partner coordinators, multicultural stewardship leaders
and other leaders gathered for discussion, sharing and networking.
     The stewardship ministry team of the ELCA works to train people
and develop education materials for stewardship ministries in
congregations and synods; provides seminars and staff services to
increase member giving and mission support; helps to interpret the
ELCA budget; helps generate unrestricted income for churchwide
ministries with the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop through the
Vision for Mission appeal; seeks contributions for the church's World
Hunger Appeal and selected designated-giving projects; and provides
resources and staff support for mission interpreter networks in
-- -- --
     Information about the ELCA's stewardship ministry and resources
is maintained at on the

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

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