“I will bless you—so that you will be a blessing.”
The 2003 Synod Assembly of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod adopted Blessed to be a Blessing as our stewardship approach for the coming years.
Blessed to be a Blessing is designed to open our eyes to our blessings and to help us grow in our grateful response to God’s abundant love. The goal of Blessed to be a Blessing is to ground us in a biblical understanding of stewardship.
Biblical stewardship is not about raising money to pay the church’s bills. It is about offering some portion of the material resources God has given us to others as a way of thanking God for these resources.
Biblical stewardship is not convincing people to volunteer to do jobs for the church. It is helping disciples discover the talents and abilities God has given them and then figuring out how God is calling them to use those gifts in the church and in the world.
Blessed to be a Blessing is a faith-based stewardship emphasis that recognizes our call to share our God-given blessings of time, talent and money. Sharing our blessings with others reflects our unity in Christ as Christ’s Church.
God’s call to Abraham is the model for God¹s call to us. God promises to bless us so that we might be a blessing to others, giving back a part of what we have received.
Stewardship is the grateful offering of all that we have and all that we are to God’s service. We trust that everything is the gift of a loving and generous God. The gifts we return to the church can be a sign of both God’s grateful offering to us and our trust in God.
While the world around us teaches us to fear scarcity, God calls us to trust in God¹s abundance. God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8).
Heeding the call to trust in God’s abundance, our synod will be guided by the following principles as we invite congregations and individuals to support the mission of the church:
- We will recognize how God has blessed us abundantly.
- We will acknowledge that we need to give back what we have received as a way to grow in faith.
- We will recognize that we are the stewards and not the owners of everything that God has entrusted to us.
- We will give proportionately, thankfully offering our first fruits.
- Our giving will be significant, so we experience that God provides all we truly need.
- We will give joyfully, in grateful response to our generous God.
Each week, the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary distributes an electronic stewardship newsletter filled with helpful resources for developing and maintaining a healthy stewardship ministry in the congregation. You can sign up for weekly electronic delivery by clicking here.
Contact Pastor Mike Bennethum (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about this and other useful stewardship resources.
The ELCA has pages filled with useful information and a plethora of resources relating to every aspect of stewardship ministry, many of which are available for free download. Start there.
The Stewardship of Life Institute housed at Gettysburg Seminary has sermons, Bible studies, programs, reflections and other suggestions for “promoting stewardship as a faithful response of gratitude to God’s abundant generosity.”
The Lower Susquehanna Synod offers a monthly Stewardship Resource Kit that has brief RCL-based bulletin inserts relating to stewardship for every Sunday, plus a newsletter article folks can cut-and-paste into their congregational publications. There are also links to online resources to teach, do, lead, preach about and think about stewardship.
Download the 2016 edition of “Giving” magazine from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center.
Stewards of God’s Love: a year-round guide to stewardship in your congregation is a tool that offers congregational stewardship teams a host of good ideas for helping people understand stewardship as a basic practice. In addition, it provides guidance for carrying out an effective annual stewardship response program. A print copy of this resource was mailed to every congregation in the fall of 2013. Additional copies can be ordered from the ELCA ($7.00 each + $1.00 handling fee) at http://resources.elca.org/Stewardship-Stewards_of_God_s_Love.html or click this link to download a PDF copy.
Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping: Looking for a resource to help congregational members embrace God’s call to care for the earth? Check out Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping, a four session adult study program designed to help participants gain a deeper awareness of our connection to creation. This resource is available for purchase in booklet form from the ELCA distribution center, or it can be downloaded for free from the ELCA website.
Ask, Thank, Tell by Charles Lane is an easy-to-read, exciting new stewardship resource filled with ideas for congregations just beginning stewardship ministry and for congregations looking to expand stewardship ministry in new directions. It’s available from Augsburg Fortress, 1-800-328-4648; ISBN # 9780806652634, $14.99. For ideas about how to use this resource, contact Mike Bennethum, 610-266-5101 or email@example.com.
Wrapped in God’s Love is a 40 page print resource that offers ideas for introducing many aspects of stewardship – of money, of abilities, of the earth, of self – to young people from infancy to age 18. You can borrow a copy of Wrapped in God’s Love from the synod resource center.
Bring a stewardship workshop to your congregation!
Contact Pastor Mike Bennethum at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule one of these five workshops for your stewardship leaders. The only requirement is that you invite two or more neighboring congregations to join you.
Stewardship as Faithraising. Ten characteristics of congregations with healthy stewardship ministries. This three-hour workshop focuses on nurturing a healthy, Bible-centered approach to financial stewardship in a congregation. The ten characteristics grow from the conviction that generosity is a core faith-practice, and stewardship ministry is not limited to a once-a-year program, but is a year-long emphasis.
Blessed to Be a Blessing. Herb Miller’s Consecration Sunday. This three-hour workshop introduces the basic concepts of a faith-based approach to inviting folks to make an annual estimate of giving and provides you the materials to conduct a Consecration Sunday annual response. This is the most effective approach. If you have never done a financial response campaign in your congregation (and may be scared to do so), this workshop is for you.
Choosing a Financial Stewardship Response Program. You have done Consecration Sunday and are ready for something different. This one-hour workshop surveys a variety of response methods. Some materials will be available for preview.
The Quick and Simple Congregational Asset-Mapping Experience. This 60-90 minute workshop will introduce you to an approach of discovering your congregation’s resources. Too often we focus on what we do not have. It is much more fun—and productive—to start with what we do have and what we can do with the gifts God gives us.
10-10-80: What to Do with the Stuff You Have. This 90-minute workshop focuses on youth and those who work with youth. It invites participants to see everything we have as a gift of God, and invites them to honor God in how they share, save, and spend their resources. A number of follow-up activities are included for those who want to continue the conversation at home.
For information on upcoming events, contact Pastor Mike Bennethum at email@example.com.