June 29 - July 5, 2009



Faith in a Positive Future

By Tuck Aaker

I spent some time talking with a pastor I've known for a few years, who is leading one of the fastest growing Lutheran congregations in Florida. He told me of his challenges in finding an associate pastor who was "geared" to get involved in a growing ministry. "Most of the candidates", he said, "are not sure they want the burden of an extremely tight schedule and all the things that go with serving a fast growing congregation. Many, if not most, are looking for a congregation where they can "ease into" the work and focus on the traditional spiritual needs of the members, not also engage in new programs to meet people’s every day needs as well as reach out to the un churched."

"That sounds like a maintenance mindset," I said. "Exactly," he replied. "They are not thinking growth, but maintaining the status quo!" It’s hard to understand why young pastors would prefer to "keep things the way they are," when they look at the tremendous numbers of people in this country that profess to be Christians, but don’t attend a church worship service. In every rural village or large city there are huge numbers of people who are unchurched but recognize that God exists and are missing the opportunity to let God guide their lives! Somewhere in the educational process, these pastors have missed the mission of the church!

It’s pretty difficult for me to understand why anyone who is called to serve God, doesn’t also feel the “call” to approach their future with a positive, proactive mindset. The words of Jesus Christ were totally given to establish the foundation for positive action by His disciples. There has never been a more positive, proactive thinker in the history of the world! And yet we see the fear of change everywhere we look in our congregations.

I’m not a student of Theology, but simply an interested layman. But after spending years watching the fundamentals of growth and success in many different venues of life, I can tell you that neither is ever achieved through a “maintenance" approach! You either pursue changes that will move you forward to your goals or you will gradually recede into an ineffective leader mired down with fear and a negative approach to life.

Some of you that are reading this are “wrestling” with this situation now. You have concluded that being positive is fine for someone else who doesn’t have the challenges and problems that you face every day. Growth is for those pastors and congregations lucky enough to have affluent membership or “enlightened” people. Your people are just “average” folks, many on a “fixed income.” Snap out of it! Every day businesses that struggled for years make the changes to become a success, athletic teams that weren’t supposed to win half their games, become champions, and congregations that were in a downward slump, decide to make the changes that will bring them growth! It’s all about believing it’s all about a positive approach!

Whether you are a new intern ministry or a pastor three years from retirement you are called to become positive. "Knock and door will be opened, seek and you will find! That's what our mission is all about and it's just stewardship!

Tuck Aaker is a retired businessman who now consults and specializes on stewardship issues for the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA. He shares his expertise in Stewardship Now, a column he writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

New This Week:

A Catechism of Creation
Episcopal ChurchThis is the mother lode of resources for teaching about creation from a mainstream Christian perspective. Prepared by the Episcopal Church’s Committee for Science, Technology & Faith, this resource contains meaty sections on Theology of Creation, Creation & Science, and Caring for Creation. It’s also backed up with Bible study and preaching resources. Click here for “A Catechism of Creation,” from the Episcopal Church.

Lectionary Reflection:
Traveling Light
Sharron LucasJesus sent out his disciples with instructions to carry very little – advice that many of us in North America would find impossible. “Relying upon the kindness and goodness of our fellow human beings is not something we do too well in our culture. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide for ourselves and those we love.” Click here for “Traveling Light.” It’s this week’s lectionary reflection from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

The Attributes of a Biblically Generous Church
Center for Christian Stewardship“Ten attributes seem to capture the essence of generosity across many different communities of faith. It may surprise some that tithing is not one of the attributes considered.” Yes, it does surprise. Click here for “The Attributes of a Biblically Generous Church,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Practice the Five Principles of Stewardship
Crosswalk.comQuantity of money is not important to God. Therefore, in determining winners and losers in God's economic system, it is the quality of financial management, not the quantity of finances that matters most. Godly financial stewardship is a matter of how, not how much.” Sounds intriguing, huh? Click here for “Practice the Five Principles of Godly Stewardship, from Crosswalk.com.