It’s a New Year! The anticipation to put 2020 behind us was real. Everywhere I turned I was reading a post or seeing a meme that suggested that the “dumpster fire” of 2020 needed to be gone. There was so much collective pain and grieving, so much tension and anxiety, so many Zoom meetings and technological adaptations that occupied our spirits. The hopes for vaccines and a change in politics provided a bit of hope for 2021. We were ready for something new and while the challenges we faced in 2020 have not magically disappeared in this new year we humans need markers and 2021 provided us with one.
With this E newsletter we are launching something new! Your SNEC Stewardship and Development Team and the Philanthropy Team of the National Setting believe that local churches are the center of our life together in the United Church of Christ. We want to provide helpful resources on giving and generosity that will be of interest to you and your church. There is a direct link between money and mission and having a clear sense of your congregation’s “why” will build the support that is needed for your church to live out its mission and make an impact on your community and the wider world.
The Coronavirus pandemic has invited us to think together in new ways about how to be the church when many of us are not occupying our buildings. The Lake Institute recently published an article which highlighted some of the challenges that we all are facing. I wasn’t surprised to see this statement which underlines the importance of mission clarity:
“We found that those that had established mechanisms and cultures of online giving alongside consistent communication with their members, as well as an ongoing focus on their mission and values, fared better than those that did not.”
How can local churches adapt to the changing environment we find ourselves in? Beyond technology (which is important) we need to think of stewardship and generosity as a year-round engagement. A seasonal approach to stewardship is often the way churches approach generosity as if it’s in the church “playbook” to do it that way. When October or November rolls around the stewardship committee asks the pastor to preach the “money sermon” and there may be four weeks of stewardship testimonies about why I give to the church. Pledge cards are sent out and there is a dedication Sunday where members come forward and put their gifts on the altar. Sound familiar?
What if generosity and stewardship was a focus that was part and parcel of the mission and vision of the church? What if every Sunday there was a way to lift up the goodness of God in our lives and our response to God’s generosity? What if stewardship was not something that needed to be attended to for a season but rather was so important, so mission critical that leaders spent time in every meeting and in every worship making the connection between faith and possessions, between discipleship and stewardship, between justice making and financial support of the congregation?
It’s a New Year. We want to hear from you. What resources are you seeking to help you grow in your understanding of generosity and stewardship? We want to make this newsletter a valuable resource to you and your church. Your ideas and suggestions will help us make this resource one that you will count on to help you and your leaders address the connection between generosity and mission. You can send your suggestions to: Andrew Warner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
May God’s abundant blessings equip your church’s ministry today and in the days to come.
Yours in Faith,
Rev. Kent Siladi, Director of Philanthropy for the United Church of Christ
Generous Thoughts is a collaborative effort of UCC stewardship, generosity, fundraising, and development professionals to provide our conferences and congregations with information to aid them in their fundraising efforts. The SNEUCC is represented ...