The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Tips for tough times

Don't panic, transform spending habits, save and continue to give

Ed Kruse, ELCA director for stewardship, offered the ELCA News Service these tips for congregations “to grow a culture of generosity.”

Headline showing economy worsens• Do not ignore the economic downturn, yet do not panic. “Address financial factors in ways that do not escalate fear, nor as we are wearing rose-colored glasses,” Kruse said.

• Transform spending habits. Review your entire spending plan, identify any “bad spending habits,” and ask “Where is God in the decision-making process? What do we hear God saying to us?” Kruse said. “Or is God saying, ‘Just trust me. I have been with you throughout your life, as a family and as a congregation. I’m not going to abandon you now.’ ” Although the spiritual message may be that “it’s going to be OK,” he said, “it’s important to take people’s anxiety seriously.”

• Build a good reserve—this is not a time to quit saving.

• Maintain a giving percentage. “There shouldn’t be guilt ... here the gospel trumps the law,” Kruse said.




Posted at 1:21 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/3/2009

This article highlights something very important. We must listen to God, because gospel trumps law. That is, our relationship with God is the basis for our stewardship of his gifts. I know many people who carry around a load of guilt, because they do not feel they can "tithe." They feel as if God frowns every time they put their gifts in the offering plate if the gift is not a tenth. A tenth of what? Our government is all about law, and our government has a hard time defining the income on which taxes are based. If we spend all our time worrying about the definition of income and trying to calculate a tenth of it for God, we have spent our energy in the wrong direction.

I am deeply grateful for God's provision for my life. The din of the daily rhetoric could easily drown out the sheer silence of God's voice -- because we don't have much silence. Nevertheless, if we make time to build our relationship with Him, we will discover anew both our gratefulness for what he provides and the sense of abundance that enables us to give gifts that speak of thanksgiving, not obligation. If our lives are immersed in our relationship with God, His grace will guide us to wise and grateful use of his gifts. When we give as an expression of that relationship, we need never fear that giving gifts to our Lord will propel us into destitution.

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