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A Lenten spiritual practice of stewardship

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

“In Lent, we, as disciples of Jesus, are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor: self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament.” (ELW)

On Ash Wednesday, we were met with these words; an invitation into Lent with a reminder that faith is a practice. And, at the core of that practice is the call to be faithful stewards of everything in our lives.

This season of Lent is about so much more than just giving something up. It’s about the discipline of recognizing our sin and seeking forgiveness from God. And ultimately, it’s about the spiritual practice of receiving that blessing from God and responding likewise to our neighbors as stewards of the faith.

On Sunday, April 1 and Wednesday, April 4, we will have an opportunity to “Try a Tithe.” We learned in the fall that our regular “support” is wrapped up in our practice of stewarding our gifts towards the routine ministries of this congregation. A “tithe” is something that is sacrificial; it’s something over and above our regular support.

Between now and then, I invite you to pray over your own spiritual practice of stewardship. Just as we did in the fall campaign, we are encouraging you to pray over all those cherished gifts of your finances, your time and your talents. Consider a gift of a tithe on one of the dates above. Not only will our ministries be blessed by your tithe, but we hope that you will be blessed as well. Join us this year as we reach out even further into the world through these gifts to live and love as God loved us first. Amen.

Giving Tree

Thank you to all who generously purchased items for the Share and Care gifts and gas cards for those in need. The tree, located just outside the library, still has tags for ELCA Good Gifts. Instructions are on the tree. Gifts come in many levels and help create better lives for people around the world.

Thank you for your gifts to God

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

We have spent a great deal of time this year reflecting over what it means to be faithful stewards of all that God has given us. Over the past several weeks, we’ve heard sermons from our ministry leaders and temple talks from a variety of voices within our congregation, we’ve spent time in study with the book Giving to God by Mark Allan Powell, and we’ve been learning new ways to think and talk about stewardship. Leadership is hopeful that God has been working on your heart, encouraging you to steward your gifts of time, talents, and finances in ways that are familiar, and to stretch yourself just a bit to use those gifts in new ways as well.

We would like to continue this journey together by saying thanks to all of you who have responded to God’s grace in your lives by sharing it with others. In Acts 20:35, it says that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And we, as a community of faith, have been truly blessed through your generosity. Thanks be to God for the gifts He has given to us all, most-especially the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, in whom we have received grace upon grace; grace meant to be shared freely and generously with the world. Amen.

Your commitments

On Sunday, October 27 and Wednesday, October 30 during worship, we collected “Commitment Cards” to help us plan for next year’s ministry here at St. John’s. Sometimes referred to as “pledge cards,” we are thinking about stewardship this year not only as your pledge of financial support, but also your willingness to commit your time and your talents for next year.

If you have not yet submitted a card, there is still time! Leadership asks that you prayerfully consider how you are currently stewarding your time, talents and finances, to consider the many needs to be met here in our congregation, and make a commitment according to your means for 2020. In order to do our best in planning for next year, we are asking that you put your cards in the offering basket or leave in the office by Friday, November 15, 2019.

Stewardship Commitment

Reflecting on stewarding what we have

We have spent a great deal of time so far this year reflecting over what it means to be faithful stewards of all that God has given us. Over the past many weeks, we’ve heard sermons from our ministry leaders and temple talks from a variety of voices within our congregation, we’ve spent time in study with the book Giving to God by Mark Allan Powell, and we’ve been learning a new way to think and talk about about stewardship. Leadership is hopeful that the God has been going to work on your own life of faith, to encourage you through the work of the Holy Spirit to steward your gifts of time, talents, and finances in ways that are familiar, and to stretch yourself just a bit to use those gifts in new ways as well.

Commitment Services

On Sunday, October 27 and Wednesday, October 30 during worship, we will be collecting “Commitment Cards” to help us plan for next year’s ministry here at St. John’s. Sometimes referred to as “pledge cards,” we are thinking about stewardship this year not only in regards to our financial pledge, but also your willingness to commit your time and your talents for next year. These commitment cards will include a space for you to indicate your offering of financial support and sacrifice, as well as your other God-given gifts.

Cards are available now in the Narthex or the office if you haven’t picked one up yet! If you can’t attend the 27th or 30th, place them in the offering basket or bring to the office any time through November 15.

Time for prayer

Leadership asks that you prayerfully consider your current level of stewardship of your time, talents and finances, to consider the many needs that need to be met here in our congregation, and make a commitment according to your means for 2020. In order to do our best in planning for next year, we are asking you to let us know your intentions by putting your commitment card in the basket at one of our worship services, or by leaving your card with your name on it in the front office.

You are a blessing

In Acts 20:35, it says that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And we, as a community of faith, have been truly blessed through your generosity. Thanks be to God for the gifts He has given to us all, most-especially the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, in whom we have freely received grace upon grace; grace meant to be shared freely and generously with the world. Amen.

Mark your calendars

We want to say thank you for all who are responding to God’s grace in your life by sharing it with others. And, what better way for us to do this than over a meal! Whether your gift is one of time, talents, or your finances, we want you to know that we appreciate the ways that you have stewarded all of your gifts this past year, and given them freely and generously to the life and ministries here at St. John’s. 

We have two options for you to come and join us:

  • Sunday, November 3, 9:00 am
  • Wednesday, November 6, 5;30 pm

No need to RSVP! Just come and spend some time with us celebrating the many and varied gifts that have made ministry possible here this past year!

What if you put God in charge of everything?

Pastor Dave Efflandt
Lead Pastor

Jesus said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs.”
(Mark 4:30-32)

We’ve been spending these past few weeks learning what it means to be good stewards of all God has given us. It has been an uplifting experience indeed! Because we’ve been talking about stewardship of time and talents, as well as finances, I thought I would offer this information about our current giving. These are from St. John’s August financials:

Year to Date Giving Units
$0 975
$1-$50 45
$51-$150 53
$151-$250 37
$251-$450 36
$451-$520 54
$521-$800 36
$801-$1,040 28
$1,041-$1,300 25
$1,301-$2,300 24
$2,301-$5,200 26
$6,000-$12,000 6

Total number of giving units at SJK = 1,425
Total giving from Tithe.ly: approx. $40,000
The total number of giving units on Tithe.ly = 80
The total number of recurring giving units on Tithe.ly = 42

Jesus says that we’re to scatter our faith like seeds on the soil. And, even if it seems like our faith is the size of a mustard seed, God will still go to work, bringing about the biggest harvest from the smallest of seeds. We don’t know how. It’s truly a mystery. But faith gets its greatest opportunity to grow in that mystery.

What would it be like you put God in charge of everything in your life? How might this change your outlook on sharing your gifts, your time and your finances? Would you hear God encouraging you to give up a little more time each week for worship or engaging in outreach ministry? Would you hear God directing you to share your talents on a ministry in the congregation? Would you feel God leading you to give a little more each week? What would it be like if, in that first category of givers, even half gave just $5 per month on a regular basis? What about $10? Even the smallest of gifts, given generously, can make a huge difference! And you can do just that in our Stewardship Bucket Challenge through November 3, either in the offering plate or through Tithe.ly (download the Tithe.ly app or at stjohnskasson.org/giving).

Join me in giving thanks for God’s amazing providence and abundant gifts. Let’s continue to step out together on this path of faith, and see where God is leading! Amen.

How are you giving this summer?

Last spring we had a big roll-out—our new online giving platform, Tithe.ly!

If you haven’t set it up yet, now is a great time. If summer is keeping you on the run, automated giving is an easy way to simplify. No more remembering cash or checkbooks or catching up after a week away. And it’s easily managed online or through the Tithe.ly app on your phone.

Automated giving is an ideal option, but if you decide it’s not right for your family. Tithe.ly also offers one-time giving. Same web portal, same app, different selection.

Get started:

Simply visit stjohnskasson.org/giving or download the Tithe.ly app to set up your giving. (Not a web person? Contact the office or a council member for assistance.)

Make the most of your gifts:

  • Select ACH/bank to incur the lowest fees.
  • Opt to “Cover card processing fees” to pay the fees and ensure your full intended amount goes directly to St. John’s.
  • This is a good time to consider if you can enhance your giving. Even a small step up – such as a $5 or $10 periodic increment over time provides St. John’s the valuable support we need.

Thank you for generosity to St. John’s. We appreciate all the ways you give so that we may live as witnesses of Jesus Christ in our community.

Giving just got easier

After months of careful research, we are excited to announce we have a new platform for giving – Tithe.ly! We now have the opportunity to set up automated giving or send one-time gifts through our website OR through a convenient app on your phone. Simply visit stjohnskasson.org/giving or search for the “ELCA Giving Tool by Tithe.ly” app to get started.

Make the most of your gifts:

  • Select ACH/bank to incur the lowest fees.
  • Opt to “Cover card processing fees” to pay the fees and ensure your full intended amount goes directly to St. John’s.

If you haven’t participated in electronic giving in the past, now is a great time to consider setting up this option! It’s easy and secure. It also makes consistent giving one less thing to think about because Tithe.ly works even through vacations, inclement weather, and forgotten wallets. St. John’s will continue to offer envelopes for donations, but we ask that you consider electronic giving!  Giving electronically, is a tremendous time savings when counting and recording donations, it also provides the church with more reliable and steady donations.

Please take this time to consider, if you are able, to enhance your current giving. Even a small step up – such as a $5 or $10 periodic increment over time provides St. John’s the valuable support we need.

If you have any questions about the new system, council members or office staff are available to help!

Participants enrolled in our previous automated giving option will be receiving information about the changeover. Your current automated giving will end April 30, 2019.

Thank you for generosity to St. John’s. We appreciate all the ways you give so that we may live as witnesses of Jesus Christ in our community.

New envelopes in 2019

New envelopes are now available at the Welcome Center and have been placed in the pew slots in the sanctuary with the hymnals. We are using these general offering envelopes instead of the personalized booklets we’ve used in the past. Please take as many as you think you will use. More will be available throughout the year. Please print your name on the envelope so we may ensure you get proper credit for your offering. This use of generic envelopes has helped us save over $2,000 in printing and mailing. Regular online giving is also appreciated – stjohnskasson.org/giving. Forms for automated giving are available at the Welcome Desk or download one here. St. John’s is grateful for your regular and special offerings to fund the ministry that we are able to do through your generosity.

Giving Tree

There will be a variety of giving opportunities this holiday season on our giving tree in the narthex. Ornaments with ELCA Good Gifts items will be available, gift cards to resupply our Good Samaritan Fund, and a local family to support this Christmas. All items should be turned into the office no later than Sunday, December 23. Any checks should be made out to St. John’s Lutheran Church. Items for the local family should not be wrapped. Thank you in advance for your generosity! Any questions may be directed to Lindsay at lindsay@stjohnskasson.org

Cheerful Givers

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful givers.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

There are three types of givers: the flint, the sponge, and the honeycomb. To get anything out of the flint, you have to hammer it. Then you only get chips and sparks. To get water out of the sponge, you have to squeeze it. The more you squeeze, the more you get. But the honeycomb simply overflows with sweetness.

When a person understands what God has done for them, you don’t have to prime them to give and you don’t need ten requests. They understand that He is a great God. In fact, at offering time, we ought to jump to our feet and applaud that we are here to give, have something to give, and have been blessed to have strength enough to work that we might be able to give. We ought to just applaud the privilege of giving.

Apostle Paul talks about the Macedonian Christians who are cheerful givers. Their hearts are filled with thankfulness to God. So they share their blessings with Paul to do his mission. Apostle Paul was so proud of them. We pastors at St. John’s are proud of you too. You are like honeycombs. You share your time, talents, and treasures generously to support the mission at Christ Lutheran.

As you consider your future giving to St. John’s, please prayerfully consider to increase your giving as well sharing your time and talents to support the mission of St. John’s Lutheran church

Thanks again for your generosity!

The Giving Tree

Take an ornament on the Giving Tree to purchase a life-changing item from ELCA Good Gifts (more info in the catalogs around the building or at www.ELCA.org/goodgifts) or for movie tickets for Food For Friends. Take a tag, purchase the movie card, and return both to the church office. Checks for ELCA Good Gifts should be made out to St. John’s OR purchase online.

ELCA Responds to US Disasters

We have featured hurricane relief by Lutheran Disaster Response in our recent Globe Offerings. Gifts given to this ministry are used 100% for disaster response.

If you still wish to give, give a check marked “Lutheran Disaster Response” to St. John”s or visit www.elca.org/disaster.

Giving to St. John’s

Faithful giving to St. John’s Lutheran Church enables us to continue our ministry within our congregation, community, state, the wider church, and throughout the world.

Here are some ways to make giving easier:

  • Automated Giving – Since this was published, our automated giving has changed. See stjohnskasson.org/giving for automated giving through Tithe.ly
  • PayPal or Credit CardSince this was published, our online giving (one-time or automated) has changed. See stjohnskasson.org/giving for giving through Tithe.ly
  • Donate by Searching or Shopping – Through Goodsearch, every search you make on your computer will earn a penny for nearly every search you do. Set Goodsearch as your browser’s default search engine and you’ll start racking up the pennies. Visit www.goodsearch.com/about to read about additional ways – including shopping, dining out, and gaming – to earn contributions.
  • Shop Amazon.com – If you shop Amazon, sign up and shop at AmazonSmile and a portion of your purchase will go to St. John’s!

A Christmas & Giving Message

“Wise Men opened their treasures and presented Jesus with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

As Christmas is upon us we start thinking of gifts, decorations, parties, travel, etc. We receive shopping lists from children and grandchildren and proceed to the malls or go online to buy gifts so we have something to give our loved ones on Christmas. That’s just what we do as individuals at this time of year and it is a good thing. But Christmas is also a great time to think about our plans with regard to giving to the church.

The reason for the season of Christmas is Jesus. God became one of us and came among us to serve and die and rise again so that we who believe will enjoy the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life. That means that Jesus is the greatest gift of all and He is given free of charge. We just receive it in faith and share it. It’s simple. So let’s allow our focus to be on Jesus this Christmas.

I heard a story recently. There was a missionary who came to a church and shared his mission work among the poor and the needy. The missionary not only helped them with their physical needs but also shared the gospel. The missionary returned to the United States to relax and raise some funds to continue his mission work. He spoke to many churches about his mission. A boy in the congregation was inspired by the talk and came home and talked to his parents about supporting the mission. At that time the family was planning a family vacation. The boy suggested that they would cancel the vacation and give that money to the mission and they did. That family made a sacrifice and it cost them their vacation.

The love Jesus has for us cost him his life. The Christmas season urges us to think of the sacrifice Jesus made and remind us of the mission He has left us to accomplish.

As pastor, I invite you to ponder the amazing gift you were given in Jesus. I am proud and thankful that people of St. John’s have been making such a sacrifice to fulfil the mission of God by sharing their time, talents and treasures.

Doing this will inspire you to open your heart and your hands to share your time, talent and financial resources to continue the work of St. John’s Lutheran Church to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Members received this letter in the mail with a pledge card and Christmas envelope. Please prayerfully consider your gifts and support of the various ministries of St. John’s for the coming year, 2017. If you did not receive envelopes or misplaced yours, there are more at the Welcome Center.

May you have a blessed Christmas!

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt