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ELCIC Strategy for Stewardship

2000 - 2005

Author: Rev Cindy Halmarson, Assistant to the Bishop
Issue: 2000
Copyright: © 2000 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.



This Strategy for Stewardship is prepared in response to the Future Directions process (1995-1997) and at the request of synods, bishops and National Church Council. It arises in light of the continual decline in revenues for national and synod budgets which causes the church to curtail its mission and ministry. It is timely due to shifts in societal values that lead people away from the spirit of generosity and abundance evident in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The audience for this strategy document includes the National Church Council, synod bishops, synod councils, and synod stewardship/resource development committees. The target group for the strategy itself is congregational leadership, including pastors, lay leaders, and stewardship committees. The purpose is to articulate the ELCIC's principles for stewardship and to outline action plans for supporting synods and congregations in their stewardship efforts. This strategy describes the current and ongoing stewardship activities of the ELCIC and points to new and proposed actions that will encourage ELCIC members to respond to God's gracious goodness with generous living in every sense. The stewardship strategy is a process that will continue to evolve as the various expressions of the ELCIC live and work with the ideas and resources at hand.

In 1997, the National Church Council authorized the development of a detailed stewardship strategy as recommended in the Report of the Future Directions Task Force on Mission. The strategy is to include: giving consideration to the (then) proposed Evangelical Declaration; building a strong relationship between stewardship and discipleship; affirming, coordinating and developing new and current methods of financial support for mission; and working with synods to identify and serve the stewardship needs of congregations.

Janet Morley, at the request of Bishop Sartison initiated a consultative process with synods through the former Stewardship Interim Working Group. In 1998 the national Lutheran Planned Giving program was established. The ELCIC published A Reason to Celebrate in 1998 to highlight ministries of the ELCIC. In June 1999 fourteen individuals from synods and church institutions attended the North American Stewardship Conference in Toronto and provided input to ELCIC leadership on principles and programs of stewardship for the development of a stewardship strategy.

Stewardship in the ELCIC is a partnership involving congregations, synods, and the national church:

  • The ELCIC national office facilitates cooperation and collaboration with synods by articulating common standards, sharing programs and resources, and providing training resources and support to synods; maintains involvement in ecumenical stewardship groups, collects stewardship materials from other sources, and provides stewardship materials for congregations.
  • Global Hunger and Development Appeal is a ministry of the ELCIC that raises money to fund programs that address hunger and poverty both in Canada and around the world.
  • Lutheran Planned Giving exists to encourage and enable members of the ELCIC to make planned gifts to the church in all its expressions (congregational, synodical and national).
  • Mission Giving Program for ELCIC Mission raises funds for personnel and projects in Canada and overseas.
  • Synod Committees for Stewardship / Resource Development exercise primary responsibility for stewardship decisions and program delivery in synods. Synods cooperate and collaborate with the national church and other synods to support the mission of the church, coordinate common standards, address common concerns and develop covenants for partnership in specific areas of mission.
  • Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship-Canada is a self-supporting volunteer organization, bringing together women and men of the ELCIC who are actively concerned about the stewardship of all of life.


The ELCIC in every expression encourages members to identify the gifts they receive from God and to respond to God's goodness with faithfulness, generosity, wisdom, and good stewardship. ELCIC expressions include congregations, synods, national, institutions, and international relationships.

A Definition of Stewardship:

"Christian stewardship is grateful and responsible use of God's universe in the light of God's purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ. Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions. Stewardship is lived out in: living and telling the Good News; sharing with God in seeking justice, peace, and the integrity of creation in an interdependent universe; wisely employing God-given human resources, abilities, and relationships; sharing the material resources we hold and giving them in service, justice, and compassion; providing for future generations; sharing in the life, worship and responsible stewardship of the Church and of its mission. Both for the individual and for the community, stewardship is a joyful act for the sake of God's world."

From the Ecumenical Center for Stewardship Studies

Desired Outcomes for ELCIC Stewardship:

  1. The ELCIC will articulate and embrace an understanding of the integral role of stewardship in the life of the church that reflects the gospel. As a result,

    1. The ELCIC as congregations, synods and national church will model the behaviors of faithful stewardship.
    2. Congregations and pastors will explore and encourage faithful stewardship year-round through learning, worship, and personal faith formation, especially as it relates to Christian stewardship.
    3. Members will participate generously in congregation and community life through personal involvement, prayer, a steadily growing level of financial support, and a lifestyle of justice and compassion for all creation.
    4. The ELCIC as congregations, synods and national church will communicate clearly about the vision and opportunities for mission and ministry in the church and the wider community.
    5. This church will assist members in discerning their spiritual gifts and encouraging them to commit their time to the greatest effect and benefit to the individual and the church.
    6. The church will practice good stewardship by receiving financial and in-kind gifts graciously, using them prudently and to maximum effect following the directions of givers, and accounting for their use with transparency and openness.
  2. ELCIC members will grow as stewards of God's creation in all aspects of our lives: personal relationships, home, congregation, community, church and the world, including the care and use of time, money, abilities, vocation, health and well-being, and the environment.

    1. In daily lives members will reflect increased awareness of God's call to live intentionally as Christian stewards.
    2. Members' lives will show evidence of generosity of spirit, joy, personal wholeness and a greater sense of justice and compassion.
    3. The per capita percentage giving of members to congregations will increase annually as measured by parochial reports.
    4. A increasing number of members will make regular gifts beyond weekly offerings to the congregation to GHDA, church institutions, endowments and foundations, and will designate planned gifts to the ELCIC through the financial vehicles available.
  3. ELCIC mission and ministry will be fully funded by the support of our members. This outcome will be measured according to the following criteria:

    1. Growth in per capita giving and total giving to congregations by baptized members. (In 1998, total regular and special giving to congregations was an average of $247.74 per baptized member for a total of $50,450,325.)
    2. Increase in disbursements from congregations to ELCIC general treasury, directed gifts, and GHDA. (In 1998, total remittance from congregations to ELCIC general treasury, directed gifts and GHDA were $5,805,737 or about 10% of the total disbursements.)
    3. Growth in the budgets of the church in all its expressions (congregations, synods, national) to accomplish the vision and plans for ministry. (In 1999, the national operating budget tier 1was $1,241,069 with support from all synods budgeted for $1,088,819.)

Theological Principles:

  1. Stewardship is our individual and corporate response in faith to the gracious goodness of God in creation and the call of Jesus to be disciples and participants in God's mission to serve our neighbors in Canada and around the world. This response is seen in the following biblical references.

    Genesis 1–3—Humanity is created in the image of the lavish and generous Creator.
    Genesis 43–44, I Chronicles 27 & 28, Daniel 1, Isaiah 22—The steward is responsible and accountable, is identified with the master, but is not the master.
    Parables of Jesus, e.g. Luke 12:42ff—The steward is responsible for Christ's household.
    I Corinthians 4:1–2, 3:21–23, 4:2—The steward is responsible for the mysteries of God.
    Ephesians 2:12–13, 2:19–22, 3:1–2—Stewardship is participation in the household of God.
    I Peter 4:7–11—Eschatological stewardship is living in anticipation of the end times.

    From The Steward: A Biblical Symbol Come of Age by Douglas John Hall

  2. Christian stewardship is joyful response to God's goodness expressed in gratitude to God and in generous living toward other persons and the whole creation.

  3. Stewardship involves the care and use of God's gifts in all aspects of our life - body, mind, spirit, financial, community, work, family, church, environment, etc.

  4. As the body of Christ, the baptized are a diverse people who exercise faithful stewardship in a variety of ways.

Working Principles:

  1. Our church will exhibit consistency in stewardship principles throughout all expression of ELCIC while using a variety of practices and methods appropriate to different settings.

  2. This church will value and practice accountability and transparency in stewardship programs, methods and message and in the use of the gifts given to the church.

  3. "Recognizing all the gifts which God has graciously given us, this church shall support its programs and ministries through the free-will offerings of its people. Any money-raising venture within the congregation should have as its intention the nurturing of the community within the congregation and the mission and ministry of the church." (from An ELCIC Statement on Commercialism, 1991)

  4. This church will strengthen its practice of developing and nurturing youth, clergy and lay leaders for stewardship and all aspects of the life of the church.

  5. The ELCIC will model and uphold mutual support relationships among congregations, synods and national church in planning, collaboration and sharing of resources.

  6. This strategy assumes that synods will have a committee with responsibility for stewardship including, supporting stewardship education in congregations, encouraging congregational support of synod and the ELCIC through benevolence, collaborating with other synods in identifying and developing effective resources.

  7. This church will cooperate and consult with ecumenical partners and organizations including the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and the Canadian Interchurch Stewardship Committee, other denominations, and the Lutheran World Federation.

  8. The Strategy for Stewardship is an evolving process. This church will continue to identify working principles and practices and engage in periodic reviews of national standards and action plans.

Action Plan:

  1. National Coordinator for Stewardship:

    In 2000 the national bishop will name a National Coordinator for Stewardship who will be accountable to the bishop for implementing the Strategy for Stewardship; facilitate cooperation among national programs such Global Hunger and Development Appeal, Lutheran Planned Giving, Mission Giving; relate to synod staff and stewardship committees; convene an annual stewardship consultation; oversee the development and distribution of stewardship resources to synods; meet with ecumenical partners in stewardship; and with the ELCIC treasurer monitor financial offerings to the congregations, synods and national church.

  2. Synod and national consultation and collaboration:

    A process of consultation and mutual support for synod stewardship committees will be established. The process will include an annual consultation on stewardship involving national and synod stewardship leaders with the first consultation will be held in 2000. On the basis of the consultation, program resources will be developed to provide a variety of models for synods to engage congregations in stewardship training and in synod / congregational consultations for mutual support. The National Coordinator for Stewardship is responsible for initiating the consultation process. Funding for the consultation and resultant projects will be shared by the ELCIC operating budget, synod budgets, and a grant from FIM for resource development.

  3. Congregational stewardship materials:

    The national office will continue to provide stewardship materials to congregations such as those currently supplied from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center through the Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship at the recommendation of the stewardship consultation.

  4. *Stewardship Toolbox:

    By summer 2001 a resource for congregational stewardship will be developed in consultation with the synods and provided to all congregations with periodic updates. A Stewardship Toolbox will be prepared and distributed by the national church in cooperation with synod stewardship committees through the annual consultation. The toolbox will include such materials as annotated bibliographies, sample resources, notices of conferences and events, worship resources, and a significant section for tried-and-tested ideas garnered from congregations. Program materials will be suitable for a wide range of congregational sizes and types and will include suggestions for adapting to the specific setting. Materials will encourage a home and congregation connection with program ideas for use by parents or other adults with children in the home. A resource will be acquired or prepared for personal or group study on personal finance and generous living. Materials will be acquired or prepared for the care and nurture of volunteers. The National Coordinator will oversee the development of this resource. Funding for the resource (initial cost) will be covered through a grant from FIM for resource development. Once the initial Stewardship Toolbox has been prepared and distributed, additional materials will be identified through the annual stewardship consultation and provided through the ELCIC budget and sales. (* NOTE: This has been redesigned as a website project and is currently under construction)

  5. ** Theology of Stewardship:

    A book will be published in Spring 2001 with material on stewardship from theological, biblical and contextual perspectives, including sermons, essays, homilies, studies, etc. The purpose of the book will be to encourage reflection and discussion on a deeper understanding of stewardship in the life of the church. Authors will be sought from among theologians, pastors and lay members of the ELCIC. A contributing editor will manage the preparation of the book under the oversight of the National Coordinator of Stewardship. The audience for the book will include pastors, theologians, and lay leaders of the ELCIC and other Christian churches in North America. Publication costs will be underwritten by a grant from FIM for resource development. After an initial distribution, the book will be available for purchase. (**NOTE: The National Church Council recommended that this project not be pursued.)

  6. Ecumenical cooperation:

    The National Coordinator for Stewardship will maintain a relationship of mutual support with the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, the Canadian Interchurch Stewardship Committee and other Christian denominations.

  7. Policy:

    The National Church Council will consider the following policy issues related to stewardship.

    • Review the ELCIC Statement on Commercialism from 1991.
    • At the recommendation of the treasurer the NCC, consider a major fund raising campaign.
    • Review periodically the Lutheran Planned Giving program, the Global Hunger and Development Appeal and the Mission Giving Program.
    • Direct the national office, in consultation with synods, to make significant improvements in the mechanisms for collecting and reporting data from congregations on membership, activities and financial activity in order to monitor participation and giving, and to enable more accurate and informative interpretation of data.


This Strategy for Stewardship was approved by the National Church Council in March 2000. In the spring and summer of 2000, the strategy was reported to synod conventions.

Appendix A

Rationale for Stewardship from ELCIC Documents

From the Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

The mission of this church, as an expression of the universal Church and as an instrument of the Holy Spirit, is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people in Canada and around the world through the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments and through service in Christ's name.

(Article IV)

The commitment of each baptized member to this call is to be expressed through this church, its synods and its congregations by a life of repentance, faith, prayer and the sharing of resources.

(Article V)

From the Evangelical Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

We believe, teach and confess that the crucified Christ calls us into a life of discipleship in which we are to be persons for others.

We believe, teach and confess that everything we have is a gift from God entrusted to our nurture and care, and that the Christian life is a life of stewardship.

We commit ourselves as church to share our gifts with the whole people of God beyond our specific denominational and national context. We will seek ways of working cooperatively wherever we are able. We commit ourselves as church to respond faithfully, promptly and flexibly to the many opportunities for mission. We will pursue creative and effective ways for mission and ministry in our local, national and global communities.

From the Glossary to the Evangelical Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:

Discipleship is a way of life that is obedience to living out one's faith in Jesus Christ. Stewardship is the way of living that recognizes that God has given us everything (all our talents, time and treasures). Our task is to nurture, protect and care for all that God has entrusted to us (e.g., the earth and its resources).
In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
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