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)


    Congregational Treasurers & Financial Leaders Newsletter December 2018

    This newsletter seeks to provide basic information about topics relevant to volunteer treasurers and leaders involved in financial management in Northern Illinois Synod congregations.

    Congregational Treasurers & Financial Leaders Newsletter

    December 2018

    This newsletter seeks to provide basic information about topics relevant to volunteer treasurers and leaders involved in financial management in Northern Illinois Synod congregations.  

    The Northern Illinois Synod was pleased to be able to offer the Treasurer’s and Bookkeeper’s workshop on October 27, 2018 at Faith Lutheran Church in Rochelle.  There were many positive responses following the workshop.


    December 31, 2018

    1. Churches must designate a portion of each minister’s compensation as a housing allowance by this date in order for ministers who own or rent their homes to receive the full benefit of a housing allowance exclusion for calendar year 2019.  The designation should be adopted during a regular or special meeting of the church board, and should be contained in the written minutes of the meeting.
    2. Donors must deliver checks on or by this date in order to claim a charitable contribution deduction in 2018.  Checks that are placed in the church offering during the first worship service in 2019 will not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction in 2018, even if the check is predated to 2018 or was actually written in 2018.  However, checks that are written, mailed, and postmarked in 2018 will be deductible in 2018, though they may not be received by a church until 2019.
    3. Employees’ marital status on this date determines your filing status for the year.
    4. All employees should review their W-4 form and submit a new form if circumstances have changed. a. Note: “If the church did not have its employees complete new Form W-4 after the changes to the tax withholding tables created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it is advisable for all employees to complete a new Form W-4 at this time,” said Elaine Sommerville, a CPA and editorial advisor for Church Finance Today.
    5. Review payments to any independent contractors.  Preparation for filing Forms 1099-Misc should include a review of payments of $600 or more to independent contractors and related form W-9. The church should have on file a completed Form W-9 for all independent contractors (which would include correct address and Social Security/Employer Identification number for the contractor).
    6. IRS Tax Forms and IRS Publication 15
      1. What is the IRS Publication 15?  The IRS Publication 15 - Employer's Tax Guide is a document published by the Internal Revenue Service detailing an employer's responsibilities for filing and reporting tax information. 
      2. Now is a great time for the church to determine how to obtain all forms needed for processing payroll at the end of the year. 
        1. Electronic filing
        2. Hard copy forms  (Note: Forms 1096 and 1099-MISC still require original red-colored forms to be used if filing paper forms.)

    January 1, 2019

    1. “If you have a lay worker who is treated as self-employed for federal income tax reporting purposes, but who you would like to reclassify as an employee, the ideal time to make the change is on January 1, 2019.”
    2. Make sure Ministers are properly classified for paying into the Social Security System.
      1. Churches should not withhold Social Security/Medicare for the purpose of paying into the system, since the tax code classifies ministers as self-employed.  As a result, a minister would pay self-employment tax with their individual tax return.  If a minister is incorrectly classified for Social Security and Medicare it could jeopardize their ability to receive tax-free housing allowance.  (Elaine Sommerville)
    3. Paying Guest Speakers Promptly.
      1. When a guest speaker arrives you should have a written check waiting.  The guest speaker should complete the W-9 form and travel expense reimbursement form ahead of time if possible.

    Provided by: Sr Editor Richard R. Hammar, JD., LL.M., CPA Published by Christianity Today–Church Finance Today.

    Elaine Sommerville, CPA and Editorial Advisor for Church Finance Today

    January 31, 2019 – Filing Dates

    1. W-2, W-3, 1099-MISC & 1096 Forms
      1. Filing date applies to both mailed in forms and e-filed forms.
      2. Requests for filing and extension application for W-2’s must be submitted on IRS Form 8809 by the January 31 deadline.  The extension is for 30 days.
      3. The IRS penalty for failure to furnish statements by January 31, 2018, is $50 per W-2 statement.
    2. The Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return and IL-941

    Income Tax Regulations – Christmas and Other Special Occasion Gifts

    “The income tax regulations specify that Christmas bonuses paid by an employer are taxable income for the recipient. Treas.Reg.1.61-2(a)(1) i.e.: A federal appeals court ruled that congregational offerings collected four days each year and presented to a pastor represented taxable compensation rather than tax-free gifts.”

    “Many special-occasion gifts to ministers and lay church employees are funded through members’ contributions to the church (i.e., the contributions are entered and recorded in the church’s books as cash received, and the members are given charitable contribution credit). Such gifts should always be reported as taxable compensation and included on the recipient’s Form W-2 or 1099-MISC and on Form 1040.”

    Person to Person Gifts

    “Members are free to make personal gifts to ministers or lay employees, such as a card at Christmas accompanied by a check or cash.  Such payments may be tax-free gifts to the recipient (though they are not deductible by the donor), especially when small in amount.”         

    Provided by 2016-2018 Church & Clergy Tax Guide by Richard R. Hammar, JD., LL.M., CPA.


    Box a. Employee’s Social Security Number

    Box b. Employer Identification Number (EIN) i.e. 36-XXXXXXX

    Box c. Employer’s Name, Address, and Zip Code

    Box d. Control Number – Number each W-2 being issued 1, 2, 3, etc.

    Box e. Employee’s First Name, Middle Initial and Last Name

    Box f. Employee’s Address and Zip Code

    Box 1. Wages, Tips, Other Compensation: Salary + REFICA Reimbursement + Auto Allowance + Moving Expenses – (MINUS) Salary Reduction for Retirement Plan and/or Flex Spending.

    (Note Auto Allowance:  If the Pastor is only being reimbursed each month for the travel receipts being submitted this is not considered income and would not be included in Box 1 as compensation.  Auto Allowance that would be included is if the Pastor is being compensated each month the same amount and no receipts are being submitted.

    Note Moving Costs:   Prior to January 1, 2018, pastors and all church employees who incurred moving expenses related to a change of call or employment did not have to report the expenses as taxable income. This has changed.  Effective January 1, 2018:

    • Moving expenses are no longer a deductible expense except for certain members of the Armed Forces;
    • Any reimbursement by, or payment of, these expenses by the congregation are to be reported as taxable income to the employee.
    • If the church covers some or all of the moving expenses for an employee, the church is to report the amount on the W-2 Form in Box 1 as taxable income to the employee.)   (Rik Jamieson)

    Box 2. Federal Income Tax Withheld:  Amount withheld from paycheckIf the pastor had no Federal Withheld Leave Blank

    Box 3. Social Security Wages: Leave Blank

    Box 4. Social Security Tax Withheld: Leave Blank (cannot withhold)

    Box 5. Medicare Wages and Tips: Leave Blank

    Box 6. Medicare Tax Withheld: Leave Blank (cannot withhold)

    Box 7: Social Security Tips: Leave Blank

    Box 8: Allocated Tips: Leave Blank

    Box 9: Leave Blank

    Box 10: Dependent Care Benefits: Leave Blank

    Box 11: Leave Blank

    Box 12a: Code E      $ Amount  Salary Reduction for Retirement Plan

    Code DD  $ Cost of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage  (Note: A Self Insured Church Plan  (Portico) is currently exempt from this requirement.)

    Box 13:  Place X in Box for Retirement Plan (Only if Box 12a was completed; otherwise Leave Blank)

    Box 14: Other – Type Housing and $ Amount  and /or Auto and $ Amount

                  (Auto is only if the Pastor received compensation – refer back to the Note in Box 1.)

    Box 15: State IL  Employer’s State ID number:  Same as Box b

    Box 16: State Wages, Tips, Etc:  Same as Box 1

    Box 17: State Income Tax:  Amount withheld from paycheck – If the pastor had no State Withheld, Leave Blank

    Box 18: Local Wages, Tips, etc.: Leave Blank

    Box 19: Local Income Tax: Leave Blank

    Box 20: Locality Name: Leave Blank

    Information provided in this document by;

    Karen Kowgios partner at FK Partners LLP, January 2010 issue of New York Nonprofits

    “Moving Cost Subsidies for Pastors, Staff, Now A Taxable Fringe Benefit”   (Rik Jamieson)

    Elaine Sommerville, CPA and Editorial Advisor for Church Finance Today

    Richard R. Hammar, JD., LL.M., CPA.  Published by Christianity Today – Church Finance Today.

    The information contained in this newsletter is subject to change, as is the case with changes in best practices and legal requirements affecting congregations and nonprofit finance. This newsletter is not a substitute for professional accounting advice or financial advice that every congregation should seek based on their needs and circumstances.                                                                                              Prepared by June M. Cain, Synod Bookkeeper


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