Pr. Judy Converse serving at First Lutheran Church in Northwood has only just returned from a conference on Stewardship. Here are her musings:
During the last couple days of July, two church friends and I attended the Rethinking Stewardship Conference at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sandwiched between great worship at the beginning and end were presentations from a range of people about aspects of stewardship.
Unlike the more traditional conference, there was no ‘keynote speaker.’ Each presenter – and there were eleven of them – had a 35-minute window and specific instructions to NOT thank the academy for this opportunity or spend time telling about themselves. Each launched right into the topic and finished ON TIME! Immediately our facilitator, Rolf Jacobson, would respond to the presentation – with thoughts to ponder or a question to mull over, and then he’d ask us to spend a couple minutes discussing what we heard and thought about with others around us. This reflection and conversation created an immediate synthesis of the subject matter.
In addition to the reflection time, there was a time set aside each day to gather with others and do a bit more processing and planning around how to bring these thoughts and understandings home.
There was a stated intention by the leaders of the conference that a new stewardship experiment would be implemented by each participant by October 31, 2014, AND evaluations of the conference would not be mailed to participants until AFTER that day.
Some of the areas of discussion over the three days included:
Broadening the term stewardship – to think about it as shepherding the lives and callings of individual Christians as well as their gifts and talents.
Seeing stewardship as a faith formation practice – not just a response to faith. Invite others to a small set of practices that will shape them into being people of faith.
Stewardship starts with God – participating in God’s work.
Stewardship is about gratitude and saying thank you as often as we can. Form a thank-you committee; keep a thank-you journal, etc.
Create a culture of stewardship where we can talk about stewardship all year long, but not ask for money all the time. Teach about money without asking for it.
The theology of stewardship is that everything belongs to God – not just the 10% we think God wants.
The plan that we developed for our congregation is this:
We are planning a gratitude emphasis this fall. We’ll have a tree in the narthex. Everyone will be invited to write things they are thankful for on ‘leaves’ and attach them to the tree. The tree will move into the sanctuary over a few weeks and end up at the altar on Gratitude Sunday. On that day, each member will