May 4 - 10, 2009



Spring Training

By Tuck Aaker

My career has been devoted to coaching corporations, companies, organizations and congregations in the development of growth. It has always been and continues to be a personal "passion" for me to see these organizations flourish and become exciting, vital groups.

Last weekend I led another congregation in "Spring Training." It was perfect timing, for many of the pros are back down in warm weather to hone their baseball skills. It was a weekend when all the ball players reported to camp, and the leadership team at All Saints Lutheran Church in Orlando, Fla., had a camp of their own right in their fellowship hall.

It was time for the pro baseball players and the All Saints leaders to work on the same things:

  1. To "brush up" on the basics
  2. To work on new "wrinkles" to old challenges
  3. To prepare for a winning season

We went through the "Top 10 Ways for Congregations to Grow" list. A roundtable of 15 of us talked about how we can use each point to increase growth – growth in attendance, spiritual growth of the leaders and the members, and growth in giving of ourselves and our money.

Three hours of exciting ideas and interchange between these dedicated leaders and their pastor Judd Ludder, with me just directing traffic with a ball cap on and whistle around my neck.

Here is a congregation that has grown from attendance of 20 at a Sunday service to 150 today in not quite three years. The day after our spring training session they accepted 32 new members! They are adding a new wing for more Sunday school rooms and they will continue to grow because of their positive attitude and their belief and faith that God is telling them to grow.

What great involvement! What great leadership! What a great attitude!

You wouldn’t think of taking a trip into new territory without looking at a map. Large or small, growing or declining, new or older it makes no difference. Every congregation needs to review the basics and "get a handle" on where it’s going this year.

It gives you confidence and a positive attitude about the future – and it’s just good stewardship.

Tuck Aaker is a retired businessman who now consults and specializes on stewardship issues for the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA. This is one of his Stewardship Now columns that Aaker writes regularly for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

New This Week:

Baylor UniversityStudy Guides for Global Wealth
Not sure how a Christian should look at issues facing the global economy? You are not alone! This resource gives you study guides to explore six issues facing us, including “An Economy for Earth,” “A Just and Living Wage,” and “Global Inequality.” Click here for “Study Guides for Global Wealth,” from the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.

Energy Conservation in Religious Institutions

Now that we are sort of in between the prime heating season and the prime air conditioning season, why not plan steps to help reduce your congregation’s energy usage? This resource has lots of practical advice, such as “Getting Started,” “Five Steps,” and “Twelve Priority Measures.” Click here for “Energy Conservation, from GreenFaith.

Sharron LucasLectionary Reflection:
Praying and Pruning
Spring gardening time is perfect to explore Jesus’s teaching that he is the vine. “I want to produce good fruit. I am grafted to the vine, an adopted daughter who finds her every movement and very being in Jesus.” Click here for “Praying and Pruning,” from columnist Sharron Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Episcopal ChurchSo You’re the New Stewardship Chair?
There’s that slightly queasy feeling you get when a new church responsibility is dropped into your lap. But incoming church stewards fear not. Here is a basic resource that will guide newbies and provide a good check for veterans. Click here for “So You’re the New Stewardship Chair, from the Episcopal Church Stewardship Resources.