September 23, 2021 by Sandy Webb

Imagine that you had a time machine.

Imagine that you could travel back in time and talk with the leaders of your own congregation two or three generations ago. Imagine that you could give advice to your predecessors in a time when sustainability was assumed, pews were full, and every Sunday school was teeming with children. What would you say?

I spent my recent sabbatical asking this question of church leaders in highly secular contexts. My goal was to learn what congregations that are currently in positions of strength might do now to prepare ourselves for a future ministry context that will likely look very different from the one we now know.

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September 22, 2021 by Cathy Hornberger

This month we offer five resources on stewardship and abundance. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers, blogs, and the monthly digest.

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Topics: Stewardship
September 13, 2021 by Sandy Webb

My grandfather and I are different kinds of investors.

Grandpa’s investment portfolio was comprised largely of equities and he knew something about each of the companies whose stock he held. When he moved to a new town, he was likely to buy several shares of the company that employed the most people there because he wanted to invest in his community. By contrast, my investment portfolio is a carefully managed collection of mutual funds. I would be hard-pressed to tell you what companies are represented, what they do, or where they are. My strategy is focused on outcomes, on projected return and estimated risk.

My grandfather and I are also different kinds of charitable givers.

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Topics: Stewardship
September 10, 2021 by Audrey C. Scanlan

Early this summer, the Church of England’s Vision and Strategy group released a plan addressing the continuing decline in church attendance in England and proposing a path forward for growth and vibrancy. The plan calls for the planting of an ambitious number of churches - 10,000 by 2030 to be exact - that would be predominantly lay-led. The release of this plan hit a very tender spot when it targeted educated, ordained leaders and beloved ancient church buildings as “limiting factors” that are holding back the growth of the church. Following the release of this plan, a social media maelstrom ensued, wounded clergy people cried out in pain, and a movement called “Save the Parish” began to defend parochial structures and fend off the “emergence of a church … not want(ed) or need(ed)” (The Rev. Marcus Walker, Spectator Magazine 8 July 2021). An ocean away, I watched it all unfold on my laptop, feeling ripples of resonance in the diocese that I serve in The Episcopal Church.

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Topics: Leadership, Change
September 2, 2021 by Linda Buskirk

Stewardship sermons and testimonies offered through the years eventually sunk in, causing me to prayerfully consider how much I give back to God and why I do so. I think I’ve reached a good place in my understanding and generosity, and I’m happy about that.

The opportunity to give electronically helped my giving too. It’s easy and convenient to make donations with a few taps on my computer or phone. When I started giving online, I felt a little squirmy on Sundays when the offering plate went by and I sat frozen in my pew, avoiding eye contact with the usher. But then my church added a new option on our pledge envelopes: a place to check “We/I gave this week online.” So now I can drop an empty envelope in the plate and smile assuredly at the usher.

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Topics: Stewardship