A team working together around the challenge of stewardship in the 21st century has worked hard over the past eighteen months to put together “The Generosity Project,” a pilot program running from Sept. 2017 – Dec. 2018 which will work to provide stewardship resources and support to a cohort group of pastors from New England regions. Members of the team have prepared blogs for “The Generosity Project” participants, which will also be shared on the ABCUSA website in the coming months. To learn more about The Generosity Project, click here.
Letting Go of Fear
by Rev. Stacy Emerson
Here in New England, the Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship Council is in the midst of preparing for an April 2019 Stewardship Event entitled, “Letting Go.” The theme seems to be touching a nerve. We sense we have much to let go of…
- fear about not having enough—money, volunteers, worshippers in the pews
- fear of talking about money
- fear of change
At the heart of letting go is our understanding of trust. Do we trust that God can and will equip us for the ministries God has called us to? Or are we left to our own devices and imaginations? Do we trust each other in the sensitive and sacred conversations around money—so much of which is impacted by our families of origin and experiences of money in our culture? Do we trust that change is not the enemy but the fertilizer for growth and thriving? We do struggle with trust because our experiences have shown us that it’s just not that simple. And so we complicate the conversation and fear blocks the way forward. Throughout the Bible, God’s messengers often begin with the phrase, “do not be afraid.” Easier said than done! So, how do we let go of fear? Maybe we can try…
- building up our relationships with each other and nurturing healthy, honest conversation
- educating ourselves around the impact of money on us as individuals, congregations and communities
- fostering courage in each other to take one step at a time toward change and pursuing God’s vision for our ministry today
- intentionally nurturing trust in God and in each other in the small and big things
Fear shrinks our world. It limits possibility and prevents our growth. Letting go of fear is an important first step, and so let us ask together, “what would we do if we weren’t afraid”? And together, let us pursue the dream that God inspires in the answer.
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Facilitator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.