Dear Partners in Mission:
The current crisis in our world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in significant ways. For the first time in living memory our congregations have been unable to gather for in-person worship for now almost a month. Additionally, it is highly likely that we will continue to have our assembly gatherings impacted by this crisis for many months to come.
Our communities have adapted quickly to providing online experiences for worship. Resources have been collected at https://www.ntnl.org/resources/covid-19/ and have proved helpful. Many new and interesting ways of being church are being developed. New adaptations that likely will continue into the future when this current crisis abates. A persistent concern however through this time is that of stewardship and particularly financial stewardship. While many of our communities have moved to ways for individuals to give regularly that do not require a check in an offering plate the reality is a significant percentage of most of our congregations financial support comes from offerings in weekly worship. So, if the community is dispersed what can we do? I offer three suggestions here to begin a conversation that must continue going forward…
- We remember that stewardship is not simply about giving money but a way of life. Biblical stewardship is about remembering that all we have is God’s and that includes ourselves, our lives, and our resources. How we spend our time is stewardship. The relationships we cultivate and those we release are decisions about stewardship. And so is how we spend our resources. A crisis is a jarring event that creates disequilibrium. Our initial desire in such an experience will be to try to get back to normal as soon as possible. However, the reality is there is no going back to a time before the crisis. So then we have the opportunity to examine why we think and act the way we do and potentially find new ways to be in the world. To assist congregations that are ready for such work NT-NL is offering an opportunity for 4 more congregations to participate in the LEAD Journey at no cost to the congregation. This resource is an opportunity for congregations, in a cohort with others, to examine themselves and their priorities for mission and to think about how God is calling them forward. Please contact BpGronberg@ntnl.org for more information.
- We have a plethora of resources on stewardship available to us. Now is the time to take seriously looking at those resources. Some of those are…
- Your NT-NL Stewardship Team led by DEM Irma Banales. This team has been leading workshops on generosity across our synod territory. https://www.ntnl.org/nt-nl-leads-in-stewardship/ Congregations participating in those workshops have seen positive results in their life together and some in increases in financial giving. Contact Irma@ntnl.org
- LEAD is offering free stewardship mini-seminars in the coming months.
- Luther Seminary’s Center for Stewardship Leadership has a number of resources for congregations and leaders.
- NT-NL Coaching. www.ntnl.org/ministries/coaching/ In addition to having trained coaches we have four Level 2 Coaches in Stewardship.
- Finally, we must be honest that this experience brings loss and grief. The grief of lives lost both to COVID-19 and to other causes has not yet been able to be mourned. In addition jobs have been lost, relationships strained, life passages missed, the list goes on and on. We need tools for working through this grief. Through our Briarwood Leadership Center and in coordination with ELCA Coaching we are offering on May 5th from Noon-2pm a webinar introducing themes and tools for grief coaching. www.ntnl.org/event/learning-coaching-skills-for-grief-and-loss/ This is an opportunity for leaders (lay and rostered) to learn new skills they can utilize to work with their communities during this crisis and beyond. To prepare us better to serve in the role of societal chaplains as outlined by Briarwood director Dr. Robert Smith.
These are just some of the ways we can be intentional about developing a holistic understanding of stewardship for our communities and ourselves. I give thanks for you all and please know we are working #InMissionTogether.