Giving back to God
Central Lutheran Church in Spokane, Wash.
"I've been around the church a lot and been the recipient of lots of generosity," he says. "I've seen first-hand people working out their faith and lives through generosity."
So as the pastor of the ELCA's Central Lutheran Church in Spokane, Wash., David makes sure to keep stewardship in everyone's minds as much as he can.
"For a children's sermon back around Thanksgiving last year I came to worship with a bunch of ten dollar bills," he recalls. "I told the kids, 'This is not my money. This is God's money. I'm giving to you. I want you to find something to do with this that would make God happy.'"
One of the children challenged all of her cousins to match her donation to a local Thanksgiving turkey drive and ended up donating twelve turkeys. Another bought supplies to build a lemonade stand, donating everything she raised to a food pantry.
Then there was the time during another sermon on stewardship when a visitor was inspired to empty his pockets into the collection plate.
"We have a fellow, a veteran, who I have given permission to kind of live on our property," David shares. "He was sitting in the front and during the offering time, the plates had gone by, and he just sort of jumped up and went down the center aisle and told the ushers quite loudly that he wanted to give, too."
David has also been hosting an ELCA stewardship program called "Ventures in Growing Stewards" for several congregations in the ELCA Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod. "Ventures" is a four-part workshop series that develops a vision and plan for growing stewards through a year-round stewardship ministry.
"I think these days in the difficult economy congregations and individuals alike are looking for different ways to think about money and how we handle it and how we relate to it," he says. "The 'Ventures' series really gives you an opportunity to think deliberately about money and the role it plays to be a blessing."
In particular, the workshop planted seeds for new ways of looking at stewardship -- like building budgets around stories instead of numbers or thanking a congregation for their offering each week.
With the first round of workshops behind him, David says he can definitely see more excitement around the idea of stewardship.
"We've been doing little things to try and help people keep in front of them the idea that stewardship is kind of a yearlong act of worship," David shares.
"Stewardship isn’t giving 10 percent back," he continues. "Everything belongs to God, and he gives us the delightful permission to give some of it back."
You might also want to read:
Worship and stewardship: foundations of the life of faith
Gearing up for financial stewardship
Is stewardship a dirty word?