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Helpful Hint – Encouraging Word – May 2018

Add an “Electronic Giving” Checkbox to Offering Envelopes

Electronic giving can be a win-win as members enjoy the convenience of a pre-determined amount being automatically deducted from their bank accounts each month while congregations are better able to plan ministry knowing how much funding is available. (If your church doesn’t offer electronic giving but would like to get started, one possibility is Vanco’s Give+ program, formerly known as Thrivent’s Simply Giving.)

Members, however, might hesitate at not being able to place an envelope in the offering plate at worship. A possible solution is to add a checkbox on the bottom of offering envelopes that says, “I’m giving electronically,” possibly with the link to your online giving page. Members who give electronically could write their names on their envelope, check this box, and put the empty envelope in the plate at worship. Members not giving electronically would weekly be reminded that electronic giving is an option.

WELS Publishes 2016 Statistical Report – Encouraging Word – May 2017

WELS Publishes 2016 Statistical Report

WELS’ 2016 Statistical Report is available online, and in print through Northwestern Publishing House. The report provides membership, ministry, education, and offerings data on congregations as well as reports on institutional ministry, ordinations and installations of pastors and teachers, and world missions statistics.

Some highlights of the report include:

  • 1,207 out of 1,275 congregations (95 percent) submitted information for the report, which is the highest participation in 14 years.
  • Baptized membership continues its slow decline since peaking in 1990, averaging a decrease of 0.6 percent each year for the past 26 years.
  • Early childhood ministry continues to be a huge evangelism opportunity with 70 percent of the children coming from non-WELS families. (Consider the new program, Telling the Next Generation, for help with outreach strategies.)

WELS Director of Christian Giving Kurt Lueneburg, whose area compiles the report, says, “‘In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others’ (Romans 12:5). As you review the contents of this report, I hope you will join me in praising our loving Lord for his faithful love to us and his gospel ministry among and through us during 2016.”

Words of Wisdom – Encouraging Word – March 2016

The Sacrifice of Christ Encourages Our Offerings

“Why will [the Corinthians] want to ‘excel in the grace of giving’ just as the Macedonians are doing? ‘For,’ says Paul, and then he gives the reason why the Corinthians will want to do this. They have personally experienced the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . ‘For your sakes,’ says Paul, Christ, though he was in a continuous state of being rich from all eternity, became poor. Paul uses a form of the same word he had used to describe the abject poverty of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:2). But it was a much deeper poverty than that. With these words all of Christ’s state of humiliation is projected before our eyes, culminating in his suffering and death. Its purpose? ‘So that you through his poverty might become rich.’ ‘We are rich, for he was poor. Is not this a wonder!’ Christ, who traded unparalleled riches for abject poverty so that we might become rich, is a wonderful example of giving for the Corinthians; but he is much more than that! He is first of all Savior. We love, because he first loved us. We give, in fact, we cannot help but give, because he gave first.”

David J. Valleskey. Laying the Foundation: The Scriptural Basis for Godly Giving. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File. Pages 6-7.

New Manual Helps Churches Promote Planned Giving – Encouraging Word – November 2015

New Manual Helps Churches Promote Planned Giving

The Lord is the planned Giver. From eternity he planned the creation of this world, the gift of our lives, and—most importantly—the gift of his Son, Jesus the Christ. How loving, intentional, and beneficial God’s planned giving has been!

We thankfully respond to God’s grace by planning our offerings to him. Our weekly offering at worship is not the only opportunity we have for giving. We honor the Lord when planning for the transition of our accumulated wealth at life’s end. And there are a variety of other opportunities to support the Lord’s work now (while at the same time receiving tax benefits). The Bible encourages planned giving to care for family and to return a portion of our possessions to God.

There is much room for growth in the area of planned giving. Only 3 out of 10 Americans (Lutherans, too) have developed an orderly plan for the transfer of their estates. Of these, only one out of the three has remembered a charity/ministry in their plans. People of faith, for whom giving is an act of grateful stewardship, need to know the options available to them.

That is why WELS has developed a new congregational planned giving manual. The purpose of the manual is to help congregations jump-start a program of promoting planned giving opportunities to members. The manual also shares how to set up a planned giving committee for encouraging this work, and how to establish and administer an endowment fund.

Interested congregations can get started as soon as today using the “Quick Start” guide in Part I. Local WELS Christian giving counselors are available for assistance.

Helpful Hint – Encouraging Word – July 2015

Develop a Ministry Plan, Then the Budget

Develop a ministry plan and then determine what forms and levels of support are needed to fund it. Many look at what they think support will be and then craft a ministry plan around that level of support, thus never giving the congregation the opportunity to pray for and respond to the plan with their offerings.

Todd Poppe, WELS Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

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