Below you will find some stewardship response resources to assist you in planning your congregation’s stewardship response emphasis. These resources are well-written response programs that intentionally provide a way to invite members to grow in their giving and share their gifts for ministry.


First We Give of Ourselves

First, We Give of Ourselves is a three-year stewardship response program designed for congregations that wish to help members grow in their understanding of stewardship as a faith and discipleship practice.

Generosity and Mission

A video stewardship message from Bishop Jeffrey Clements (September 2016).

Because of God’s Great Mercy

If you have completed the three-year First, We Give of Ourselves program and are looking for another option, you might consider a resource produced by “Embracing Stewardship” entitled “Because of God’s Great Mercy.”  You can order this resource by going to

Giving MagazineGiving cover 2012

This resource contains helpful information about stewardship ministry and contains a financial stewardship response program that you might choose to use in your annual stewardship response program.

For a copy of the magazine contact Rev. Kurt Nordby, Assistant to the Bishop or visit this website.

Stories of Faith in Actionimg-ELCAMA1240

This is an annual ELCA publication that is a helpful resource as you share the stories of our ELCA ministries. Articles, stories of ministries, and other helpful information help our members see the “big picture” of our ELCA’s participation in God’s mission. This resource can be ordered through the ELCA and are free of charge. You do have to pay shipping however. “Stories of Faith in Action” can also be accessed through the ELCA website where you can download the articles and information in the magazine for bulletin inserts, newsletter articles, displays, and the like.

Suggested Stewardship Response Programs

 You might also want to check out a couple of stewardship websites that I have found helpful.

Kurt NordbyIf I can be of any assistance, let me know. My office number is 309-794-4004. Email

Rev. Kurt Nordby, Assistant to the Bishop

Ministry Touching Lives in the Northern Illinois Synod

Mission Planning Toolbox

Facts & Figures of NIS Ministries

Northern Illinois Synod Stewardship and Mission Support Strategy Vision, Theological Principles, Core Values, and Goals (passed at the 2011 Synod Assembly)

Synod Vice-President Bill Bartlett Speaks About Stewardship

(from the 2013 Discipleship Gatherings: Giving)

Download Mr. Bartlett’s Stewardship Video (right click and save to computer – .mov file 1244.34MB)


    stewardNet: God is relational, and so is how we fund the church

    Dear friend in Christ,

    From the beginning, our trinitarian God has been energizing all creation through relationship. Is it any surprise then that relationships are fundamental to faith-based fundraising? These pivotal relationships include our relationship to God, to the church, to each other and to our world, and not to be forgotten, our relationship to all the assets seemingly under our control.

    At their very best, congregations nurture, cultivate and multiply relationships, relationships that transform lives and change the world as Jesus would have us do. It is through these relationships that people can be inspired to see their own potential to resource ministry, not just in the church but everywhere they go and in all that they do. It is through the aggregation of a fraction of this capacity that our congregations and the larger church are supplied with the necessary participants, leaders and financial support that make everything we do possible.

    The implications are many. One is that, as followers of Jesus, we need to value EQ (emotional/relational intelligence) as much as IQ and understand that giving intellectual assent to beliefs and doctrines is most likely not as important as living life in a relational, loving way. Another takeaway is that most often generosity flows more from teaching and inspiration than manipulation, coercion, shame or guilt. In the end, our best strategy for funding the church will focus less on an annual stewardship campaign and more on a daily emphasis of relationship, relationship, relationship.

    This issue of stewardNet is about the value of relational stewardship and taking seriously what we want for people, not just what we want from them.

    We are a church that is energized by lively engagement in our faith and life. Thank you for doing God’s work with a faithful, generous heart!


    Steve Oelschlager
    Stewardship Program Coordinator
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    "The Culture Code"
    Groups that thrive

    In an effort to better understand what makes organizations thrive, author Daniel Coyle investigated a wide spectrum of teams, groups and companies, from the San Antonio Spurs basketball team to Pixar Animation and the military. Surprisingly, the commonality he found was all the little relational things leaders do to enhance a sense of belonging while creating feelings of trust, safety and cooperation. When leaders effectively model vulnerability, it promotes healthy risk-taking where failure may be an outcome. When leaders make use of the power of story, it promotes a sense of shared, motivating purpose. Coyle writes, “Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are, it’s something you do.” In the end, everyone feels like they have an important role to play and contribution to make.

    For a deeper look at the value of relationships and belonging as a precursor to organizational vitality, read Coyle's book “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups.”

    Congregations as cultures of generosity
    The centrality of relationships

    At an Ecumenical Stewardship Center event in Dallas this past spring, speaker Aimee Laramore gave a terrific, down-to-earth presentation (watch here) on congregations as cultures of generosity. Laramore is a person of faith with a background in development and faith-based fundraising. She covered lots of topics, but the core of her message was about the importance of relationships, meeting people where they are, being truly interested in how they are doing, talking about money without always asking for any, and celebrating all the ways people make a difference including outside of the church. She asked how our congregations can help people see themselves as benefactors. What if we didn't limit our storytelling to just how giving makes the world out there better but also cultivate stories by givers about how generosity has blessed their lives?

    Laramore mentioned her friend and mentor William Enright, the founding director of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Enright recently authored a book worth reading titled “Kitchen Table Giving: Reimagining How Congregations Connect With Their Donors,” in which he shares a similar relational approach. Here is a review of the book by the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary.

    Mission interpretation ministry
    Inspiration from Aimee Laramore

    After watching Aimee Laramore’s stewardship presentation on the “how to” of generosity, I was struck by how much of what she discussed pertained to mission interpretation. I immediately thought of the elevator speech I use when asked to give a brief description of what mission interpretation is about. It’s about telling the stories that declare God’s work in the world. It’s about lifting up our connectedness as the three expressions of our church. And it’s about thanking the doers and the givers for their generosity.

    Aimee says that our story is part of the mission story, that people want to know where their money ultimately goes beyond building and salaries. That’s exactly what a mission interpreter in your congregation does! Tells the stories that help build relationships between the giver and the receiver, tells the stories of how your Mission Support dollars make a difference. Stories that grow generosity. Aimee also speaks about how important it is for us to share our faith stories of God’s goodness with one another. An easy way to begin a conversation, to tell stories, about our faith was introduced at a mission interpreter coordinator’s conference in 2015 called The Turning Point Storytelling Method by Jennifer Strauss at (Download the outline here.) A mission interpreter in your congregation could lead you through this process.

    When Aimee spoke about philanthropy, she gave the definition as being “the love of humankind.” Mission interpreters in congregations bring to light how we share our gifts throughout our church from congregation to synod to our churchwide organization. How, together, we make a difference in the world telling stories of how we are church together.

    Won’t you consider becoming a mission interpreter in your synod? Please contact Denise Ballou for more information.

    Other items of interest
    Resources, events and more

    • If you need an approach for engaging in a “relational ask,” see this resource on LOAVES (listen, observe, assess, value, encourage, support) from the ELCA’s Rediscover Macedonia initiative a few years ago. You can find many other useful resources from the Rediscover Macedonia efforthere.
    • For more than a decade, the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary has published a weekly e-newsletter. Recently, the center went through its database of hundreds of reflections and selected 17 top posts that lay the groundwork for innovative stewardship ministry. These articles have been assembled into a PDF titled “Stewardship 101: An Invitation to Financial Stewardship.” You can download the PDF for free here.
    • Stewardship Kaleidoscope is an annual conference offering excellent plenary speakers, informative workshop leaders, provocative worship experiences and incredible networking opportunities for all who are passionate about stewardship and generosity. Drawing leaders from across the ELCA and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and beyond, Stewardship Kaleidoscope is designed to help participants explore stewardship in its many colorful dimensions! The event will be in St. Louis Sept. 24-26. Register now for $275 per person before the price increases to $300 on Aug. 1.
    • With "God's work. Our hands." Sunday approaching on Sept. 9, the Life of Faith Initiative offers a new document to expand “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday from being a single day of service to a way to equip our people for a life of faith so that "every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace." You can download the seven-page PDF here.
    • Through Capital Campaign Services of the Mission Investment Fund, experienced and professional fundraisers are available to help congregations reach their goals and potential. Many of these people are former stewardship staff in the ELCA and have years of visioning, planning and implementation experience. Paula Kitt is the executive director for Capital Campaign Services. If you have any questions, please send them to her at
    • Thank you to all the congregations, synods and individuals who have participated in Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA’s first four years. In the 2017 Campaign Report, you will see how your generosity continues to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors around the world. Please share this important work and progress with your synod and congregations! In addition, to find out how you can continue to support the campaign in its final year, please visit

    Sayings, quotes, thoughts
    Henri Nouwen

    "When we give ourselves to planting and nurturing love here on earth, our efforts will reach beyond our own chronological existence."

    Biblical foundations 
    Acts 2:46-47

    Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

    Upcoming events (watch the calendar file for details)

    Aug. 16–19
    Chicago, Ill.
    Mission Interpreter Coordinator Conference

    Aug. 30
    3 p.m. Central at 877-820-7831, participant code 6314685#

    Sept. 24–26
    St. Louis, Mo.
    Stewardship Kaleidoscope

    Oct. 5–7
    Camp Agape, N.C.
    Lutherans Restoring Creation Retreat

    Nov. 15
    3 p.m. Central at 877-820-7831, participant code 6314685#

    Nov. 27–29
    Tampa, Fla.
    ESC Generosity Next Conference


    Full calendar | Subscribe to Our Calendar File

    Find ELCA stewardship resources online

More Stewardship News

Facts and Figures for the Northern Illinois Synod

This is an updated resource reflecting ministry in our synod.

Stewardship FAQs

Q: What is Mission Support?

A: Mission Support is your congregation’s financial weekly offering that is shared with your synod and the churchwide organization. It is an undesignated gift to ELCA ministries that go beyond your congregation. These gifts are used where the need is the greatest, and they also make it possible for the ELCA’s 65 synods and the churchwide organization to keep ongoing commitments to ministry partners.

Q: What guides the churchwide organization in its decisions regarding Mission Support?

A: Churchwide Assemblies – this church’s highest legislative authority – guides and directs the work of the churchwide organization. The ELCA Church Council functions as the interim legislative authority between assemblies. The churchwide organization’s two strategic priorities are to accompany the nearly 10,000 congregations as growing centers for evangelical mission and to build the capacity of this church for evangelical witness and service in the world to alleviate poverty and to work for justice and peace. We are a church that believes God is calling us into the world – together.

Q: How does my congregation benefit from Mission Support?

A: Every congregation benefits as an active partner in the ELCA’s mission to share God’s love with the world. Mission Support funds the work of synods, and some of the portion of Mission Support that is shared with the churchwide organization returns back to your congregation and synod in the form of services, programs, resources or grants. Typically, more than 90 percent of a congregation’s offering remains in the congregation to help pay for local ministries, outreach, salaries, utilities and the building, ensuring your congregation’s vital presence in your community. We are a church whose unity is in Jesus Christ, who gathers us around word and water, wine and bread. Together — we can do more than any congregation or synod could do alone.

Make it Simple

is a stewardship resource that has its foundation in 2 Corinthians 9:8 in which Paul says: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” “Make it Simple” seeks to be a resource in growing stewards by focusing on God’s abundance and how we might live simply, generously, and faithfully in using the blessings that God gives to us.

There are four programmatic themes of “Make it Simple:” Following Jesus, Mt. 6:25-33; Facing the Truth, Mk. 4:37-41; Acting Together, Jn. 13:34-35; and Sharing Enough, Philippians 4:11b-13. These themes along with a variety of resources will help to grow healthy stewards, a sense of generosity, and an understanding of how we live in God’s abundance each day.

“Make it Simple” is a web based resource and is available on the ELCA website by visiting Also available is a DVD set from Augsburg Fortress, order number: ITEM000666.

Why We Share Gifts for Ministry

The primary reason we share our gifts is out of joy and thanksgiving for God’s blessings, especially God’s Son, Jesus Christ and God’s grace through him. This is the foundational reason for our giving as God’s people in mission.

Another reason we share gifts is from a sense of responsibility. We believe that all we have are gifts from God and are called to manage wisely the gifts God has given to us. God’s gifts are given as a blessing to others.

We also give from a sense of mission. Through our giving of gifts, we and our congregation share in God’s mission. Because of the gifts you share, one’s congregation is able to grow in ministry and boldly proclaim the good news of God’s transforming love in Christ.

One’s faith commitment is another reason why we share gifts for ministry. The sharing of gifts for ministry is a concrete expression of the faith we have in God’s promises and abundant grace in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps one or all of the above describe your motivation for sharing gifts. Perhaps you have another reason that is only yours. Whatever your reason, the generous sharing of gifts enable us to live a richer life of discipleship as we give of ourselves and resources as a blessing to those around us each and every day.

Churchwide Stewardship Resources

Resources you can download or purchase.

Bulletin Inserts