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.
What’s happening in the life of your congregation and in your neighborhood? Where is the Spirit moving, challenging, bringing hope and healing? Take a minute and think of a story, an “impact” story. Something that is happening in your church and because of it. And then think about telling the story.
Recently, our church was contacted by a friend of a friend who lived far away but whose cousin lives in our town. Their cousin lives alone and has stage 4 cancer and needs support—rides to appointments, help shopping, that kind of thing. The person who called knew about our church and wondered if there was some way we could lend a hand, even though we were strangers. Our Caring & Connecting team said, of course! And went into action. Someone in the church spent time shopping and someone else took him to a doctor’s appointment an hour away and waited until he was done and then they went out for coffee. We recently got a thank you note that expressed just how much our bits of ministry have helped and made a difference, how they are experiencing such relief and hope because of the actions of our church. What a great story!
This month, we start our annual stewardship campaign, and while it is tempting to focus the conversation around budgets and fundraising, this is the kind of thing we need to be talking about. We need to share the story of what’s happening because of our church. More than numbers on a spreadsheet, this is what people need to know—that what we do makes a difference.
In telling an impact story, it’s important to remember there are 2 parts—before and after. Before, someone was sick and in need. After, they felt relief and hope. What happened in between the “before” and the “after” was the work of the church, which is so much more than shopping or driving to appointments—it is the nurturing of hope in the lives of the people we meet. That’s a powerful story to tell! It is the story of God working through God’s people to transform and heal the world. Which is never about numbers on a page but always about the powerful and redemptive work of a loving God.
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.