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.
Stewardship is About Conversion
Henri Nouwen wrote, “Fundraising is…always a call to conversion. And this call comes to both those who seek funds and those who have funds. Whether we are asking for money or giving money we are drawn together by God, who is about to do a new thing through our collaboration…” To be converted is to have a shift in perspective, an inward change that opens us up to all of the possibilities God is calling us into. And so who are we, when we are afraid to talk about money or ask people to give, who are we to deny each other the blessing of such a collaboration that has the power to transform our very lives?
That’s the thing. We are worried about what to say and how to say it; we are anxious about turning people off; we are fearful of failing. Or maybe we don’t know how to express the powerful vision God has for our ministries and so we focus on bills and what we don’t have enough of. Except that Jesus always wants to re-direct our hearts and minds away from our fears and toward the transformational work of God. And I imagine that is a gift the world is longing for—to take their fears and conquer them and put that energy into ways that heal and make the world a better place.
And so stewardship is about conversion. It is about changing our hearts and minds so that we can see the collaborations God is creating between us and pouring our resources—our time, talent, treasure, and energy—into such an amazing venture. As you think about stewardship in your church, what is the conversion necessary to bring new life to your ministry? How can you engage people in such a way that they see the value and importance of the collaboration God is creating when we pool our resources together? What does that vision look like? In what ways is God calling you to transform the world because of your faith, and your faith together in community?
Henri Nouwen also wrote, “Fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission…fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission…[and] where there is a new creation in Christ, there the kingdom of God is made manifest to the world.”
(Quotes from Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising)
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.