Stewardship projects receive Thrivent grants

With goals to develop “learning communities” in congregations and advocates in districts, two stewardship projects were approved for block grants from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans when the LCMS Board of Directors met in late November.

Both projects should be well under way by the middle of this year, according to Rev. Larry Reinhardt, acting director for LCMS stewardship ministry.  Focused on training, the projects aim to spark the “Stewardship Renaissance” called for by the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission.

Reinhardt said the first training event will be Feb. 15-18 for “Faith Aflame: 360 Degree Stewardship.”  The objective is to develop “learning communities” of stewardship leaders in congregations.  The first training will occur during the District Stewardship Leaders Conference in Tempe, Ariz.  During the rest of the year, up to 10 regional conferences will be opened to commissioned and ordained workers and lay leaders.

“The learning community is a group of people in a congregation who will serve as stewardship models and encouragers of other members,” Reinhardt said.  He compared them to “yeast in a lump of dough” that grows as the original trained leaders influence others.

He also explained the “360-Degree” title: “It means looking at stewardship from all sides, not just money, time and talents, but all the aspects of the Christian life as our definition of stewardship states — ‘Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the Church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.’”

A second project will recruit and train “stewardship advocates,” which Reinhardt compared in structure and service to the current Laborers For Christ or Harvesters For Christ programs.

“We envision that they will be people with a real passion for stewardship,” he said.  “Prime candidates include recently retired district and national stewardship leaders who have the time and flexibility to travel where needed.” 

The advocates, he added, will be available to assist district stewardship leaders with events like church-worker conferences or regional stewardship gatherings.  The goal is to have advocates trained by the fall or winter of 2007.

“Faith Aflame: 360 Degree Stewardship” is funded by a $53,000 grant to cover preparation of material for four sessions on stewardship basics, personal stewardship, group stewardship and congregational stewardship leaders.  The grant will cover expenses for the presenters at 20 regional training events over a two-year period.

The “Stewardship Advocates” project received $60,500, which will be used to develop materials and costs associated with training the advocates.

Posted Dec. 8, 2006

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