The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The reflection below was provided by Rev. Stacy Emerson.
Gratitude is an essential part of stewardship. It begins with gratitude to God for every blessing—for life itself, for time, for health, for relationships, for grace and forgiveness. And it is important to extend that gratitude to each other, to the partners God has given us for the journey. Here are a few ways to keep gratitude at the center of stewardship:
Say Thank you
How many times a day do you say, “Thank you”? Is it enough? Saying thank you is a spiritual practice that does more for the speaker than the receiver. A hundred times a day it is a great reminder of every single blessing that brings a bit of light into the world, and it deepens our awareness of God’s holy touch in every ordinary and extraordinary thing.
Send a Note
Written notes to givers and volunteers make a big difference. For one thing, we rarely receive a handwritten note anymore and the personal touch adds meaning to the gesture. Be sure to be specific about why you are grateful and how the person’s donation or job well done is making an impact.
Weave giving thanks into worship
Throughout the pandemic and on-line worship, I made it a point to keep the “offering time” in worship, except that without a plate to pass and gifts to physically gather, it became a reflection time on gratitude and generosity instead. It has been a transformative experience in worship to focus less on ritual of receiving of gifts and more on the ways gratitude and generosity are intertwined and at the heart of discipleship.
Be kind and generous
How do we go beyond mere words and give thanks, especially to God? We live the ways God has called us. We act kindly. We do justly. We are generous with our resources of time, talent, and treasure. We forgive. We give someone a chance. In these ways and more, we give thanks to God who calls us to love just the way God has already loved us. There is no better way to give God thanks.
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 Coordinator 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.