When my mom’s youngest brother was a little boy, they attended a church that used to pass Communion around in the pews in a similar fashion to that of the offering plate.  One particular Sunday, the offering plates had already been passed around the congregation and it was time for Communion.  As they began passing around the Communion trays, my uncle mistook it for another offering and shouted quite loudly to his father and thus, the rest of the congregation, “Get out your wallet, Dad!  Here they come again!”

At a young age, my uncle knew what it looked like to give.  He saw the plate being passed around and knew that giving money was the appropriate response.  Even though they had already collected an offering, he was ready to encourage his dad to give yet again!  That offering plate was a cue to give.

What are your images of giving? What are the giving patterns in the congregation you attend?  In the last 20 years, many congregations have seen a decline in regular giving and volunteering due to many factors.  These include:

1) America’s culture of mass consumption
2) Pastors’ fear of discussing money
3) Ignorance of Christian teaching about financial giving
4) Mistrust of leadership or organizations
5) Lack of conversations about money among Christians
6) Failure to adopt routine methods for giving.

(from Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give More Money, by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson with Patricia Snell.  Oxford University Press, 2008.)

How does your congregation talk about money, giving, and generosity?  Is stewardship something you only talk about once a year?  Are you ready to begin or continue these discussions?

I just returned from a Ventures in Growing Stewards training event at the Lutheran Center in Chicago.  The Ventures in Growing Stewards program for congregations is an incredible resource that encourages leadership teams to begin, continue, or reframe conversations regarding Stewardship and giving within congregations.

The basic set up consists of 4 workshops that leadership teams of at least 3 or more people from congregations will attend throughout the year.  Typically, we look for about 5 or 6 congregations to be involved in the program at one time.  At these workshops, these teams will learn about resources and tools that can be used in their congregations to help grow stewards and engage in healthy dialogue about money, giving, and generosity.  Overall, it seems that the intent of Ventures is to teach people how to be a steward rather than how to do stewardship.

If you think your congregation is ready to learn about a variety of ways in which you can grow stewards and be stewards, contact Pastor Mark Anderson for more information!

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jenna Couch

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.