June 2016

June 1, 2016 by Presbyterian Foundation

Stewardship Ministry

Steve Wirth,
Ministry Relations Officer Southwest Region

Creation Lab is what a group of young, artistic pastors and friends in Chicago Presbytery call their project. My son, Alex and his wife Megan are both actively engaged with this group. I think of it more as the “Hope for the Future of the Church Lab,” as they invite other artists and creative people, often not church members, to come and consider how the Spirit moves in the world. The synergy in this group is inspiring. They do not think the Church is in crisis or falling apart. They see decline and discouragement in the institutional church as a way to bring in new ideas that no one in the church would even consider before. They see a church beyond the walls and buildings as neighbors are touched, and those turned off by what they thought was church see a new way that the Holy Spirit can be worshiped, and a loving, accepting Christ can be served.

Denominational funding has given them a start to rent some warehouse space and fill it with art supplies many of them had in cramped quarters before. Now with room and open space to think and create they have come up with worship ideas, illustrations for written material and other things too creative for me to even describe! They also get calls for workshops to help churches get unstuck and think with new senses and perspectives that can be open to where God might be leading them in a new time. Check them out at http://creationlab.org and leave a donation!

In San Francisco Presbytery they are using some of the funds collected from departing churches as venture capital grants to churches and groups with new ideas for ministry. To receive these grants, the receiving group has to agree to be trained in sustainability through a series of classes taught by Eric Law – based on his book, “Holy Currencies: 6 Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries.” Law has some unique ideas about how to fund ministry that have worked for his ministry for over 30 years. It is an exciting project just getting off the ground and I can’t wait to see the results.Ministry Relations Officers (MROs) for the Foundation visit churches, presbyteries and faithful individuals all across the country. All nine of us have stories of vitality being rekindled and thriving ministries growing. Our job is to help these churches and donors invest their funds to provide long-term stability to the ministries for which they have a passion. Our theme this month is about surviving and thriving. The Presbyterian Foundation has resources to help your ministry do that. MROs have experience well beyond investing funds. We have seen many helpful examples from other churches. We have been part of workshops to learn the latest thinking on reaching millennials, outreach to those choosing a spiritual path outside the organizational church, and how to take a passion and turn it into a purpose. Give your MRO a call; we are ready to help you thrive.

The Presbyterian Foundation and, I dare say the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), only survives and thrives if our churches thrive. We do not exist or have a reason to exist if we are not doing everything we can to help churches survive and thrive. I have heard it said that the future of the Church is in mega-churches and small, strong churches. Some places have the demographics and pastors have certain personalities and skills to have mega-churches, but the majority of the ministry will happen in small, strong, resilient, caring communities that find new, creative ways to thrive. Let’s give up scarcity and decline thinking and realize God in Christ has put us here for a reason and has a purpose for our ministry. God’s grace is ours in abundance. Let’s work together. Let’s invest in our churches. Let’s celebrate the love of Christ for all people.

Church's youth group leads in generous giving

By Eva Stimson
When the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church in Cary, North Carolina, launched a capital campaign, they named the effort “Stepping Out in Faith.” And the youth of the church were among the first to step out – by pledging $5,000 to the campaign.

“The youth are part of the church,” said high school senior James Pinson, who proposed the pledge to the church's youth council. “So we thought it would be good for the youth to actually participate in raising the money – not just let our parents do it all.”

Pinson said the idea of making a pledge grew out of conversations with his father, Jim Pinson, about what role the youth group should have in the campaign. Father and son both served on the session of the 1,200-member church, which is located in a suburb of Raleigh. The 15-member youth council helps plan and lead programming for the congregation's approximately 40 middle and high school young people.

Kirk of Kildaire teens were already excited about the primary goal of the fundraising effort: to construct a three-story Christian education building, which will expand the space for youth activities. The new building will replace a cramped and dilapidated office building that served first as a worship site for the 36-year-old congregation and now is used for education and meetings.

“We've really outgrown our space – which is a good thing,” says Amanda Golbek, the Kirk's associate pastor for youth and young adults. “And the youth do stand to benefit significantly from this new building.”

It makes sense that the youth would want to contribute, Golbek says, because they have been encouraged to be leaders in the church. “We try to involve youth in the total life of the congregation,” she says. “It is as much their home and congregation as it is anyone else's.”

When James Pinson presented his pledge proposal to the youth council, he suggested that half of the $5,000 be taken from the youth reserve fund, money raised by various fundraising projects over the years to support youth mission trips and other activities. The council would then encourage the church's young people to match the initial $2,500 with their own donations.

Youth council members thought the proposal was “a little iffy at first,” Pinson admits. “They saw the big numbers and thought, ‘We can't do that.'”

But the youth warmed to his idea, “once we broke it down,” he says. They calculated that raising approximately $60 per person would enable them to match the $2,500 and meet their goal. They decided to supplement individual contributions with car washes, bake sales, and other group fundraising projects.

“I think the excitement is going to grow,” Golbek says. “It was just a matter of getting them on board and helping them understand that a lot of small gifts added together can amount to something big.”

The “Stepping Out in Faith” campaign evolved from conversations about stewardship and generosity that have been going on among Kirk of Kildaire leaders for more than a year, Golbek says. “We've looked at how we make stewardship part of the fabric of our life, not just something we do once a year.”

One evening in September 2014, Olanda Carr, one of the Presbyterian Foundation's Ministry Relations Officers (MROs), met with the Kirk's pastors and session members to discuss how to get leaders of the congregation more actively involved in stewardship. Carr says he adapted his presentation from “Culture of Generosity,” a four-hour seminar that he and other MROs lead for church groups.

“We had a very frank and open conversation,” he says. Participants wanted to know: “How can we grow as leaders in stewardship and generosity and then translate this to our members?”

Carr suggested that Kirk of Kildaire leaders read Not Your Parents' Offering Plate, a book by J. Clif Christopher, founder of Horizons Stewardship, an organization that works in partnership with the Presbyterian Foundation. Church leaders read the book and continued the conversations. The following February they invited Horizons Stewardship to assist with a capital campaign.

Golbek believes these conversations about cultivating a culture of generosity have had “a trickle-down effect” on the church's youth.

“Our youth council leaders are setting a great example in helping focus our youth on the concept of stewardship,” she says. The capital campaign's challenge to “step out in faith” has helped them understand “that all we have is a gift from God, and we're called to give back in order to grow in Christ.”

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