Grace, Generosity and Gratitude

Morning Star Campaign Service was original developed to assist Moravian congregations and agencies with planning and administering capital campaigns.  In reality, when we raise money for buildings, renovation or new ministry, we’re helping congregations talk about money and how we connect to and expand ministries through generosity. In those early days we called our service “Simply Stewardship” because, using simple plans and strategies, churches were able to grow physically or programmatically thanks to the generosity of their members or supporters.

At our 2011 Adamson Forum, our keynote speaker, Bill Enright (then director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving with the Indiana University School of Philanthropy), challenged us to look deeper and talk about why people give and what motivates generosity. 

At almost the same time, we began redesigning our marketing materials and messaging. We were influenced by Kate Engel’s work about Moravians and money; they used what they earned as a way to begin and expand ministry all over the world. Talking honestly about money, and recognizing God’s grace and generosity and our need to respond with gratitude provided a different way to view our work.

While the need for a “stewardship” program hadn’t changed, our thinking about the program had. We came to understand giving in a new way. Instead of being God’s money manager, we wanted to encourage and validate generosity and gratitude. To continue to call our service “Simply Stewardship” just didn’t correlate with our new understanding. “Grace, Generosity and Gratitude” did so we renamed the service.

Grace, Generosity and Gratitude is descriptive of how we’re thinking about money and the church, and more accurately names our efforts to move from the paradigm of transactional giving to the joyfulness of transformational giving.

While our language has changed, the basic tenets of the program haven’t. It’s comprehensive and labor-intensive, and it provides tools for churches that haven’t ever asked for money except in emergencies.

Our process has two parts:  1. Discovering Grace   2. Moving to Generosity and Gratitude.

In Part 1 we use the focus group model to discover and explore God’s grace in our lives by asking, “Who are we (as a church), why are we here, and why does it matter?”  The congregation has opportunities to talk about itself and to examine current ministries and their relevance in the life of the church.  Each session concludes with a review of the church’s budget, giving patterns, and giving levels.

We then present a detailed report of findings from the groups to the task force. Committees are formed to involve as many people as possible: prayer, communication, hospitality, leadership involvement, education, witness and more.  We also recommend involving children and including a curriculum for children and training sessions for Sunday School leaders.

Part 2: Moving to Generosity and Gratitude -  The task force develops a theme and logo and selects scripture to be used on all materials.  We identify members who will share stories of generosity and gratitude during Sunday worship, and we help prepare newsletter articles, bulletin inserts, a Sunday School emphasis and a Bible Study. A narrative budget with engaging pictures and stories of the programs and ministries of the church is designed and distributed. The program concludes with Commitment Sunday and a celebratory luncheon.

Grace, Generosity and Gratitude is the real story of stewardship. We experience God's grace and abundant gifts every day, and we are grateful and generous in return; when we are, ministry grows. Thus we enter into the wonderful and ever-renewing cycle of God's grace and generosity and our gratitude.