July 6 - 12, 2009



The Missing Link

By Tuck Aaker

Has this ever happened to you? You got up, showered, dressed and poured a cup of coffee. Then you sat on the sofa with the papers to catch the latest news, reached over to turn on the light and – nothing happened. Your first thought is that the bulb has blown. You go to the closet, find a 75 “watter” and screw it in. You take a sip of your cooling coffee, turn the switch and – still no light!

“What in the world,” you exclaim, and then the bulb inside your head goes on. It must be the plug. You move the sofa, and on your hands and knees reach back there, and sure enough – the lamp is unplugged! You say to yourself, “How can we get any light without any power? There’s no connection!”

Stewardship is like that in many congregations. The church has a stewardship team, they have a program they used last year but it’s still good, they have the letters written about the church’s needs, the temple talks lined up to tell the members what they need, and they have the commitment cards. They are all set! They follow the plan, making sure the members understand how much the congregation needs, but on Stewardship Sunday the results aren’t very good. There are fewer commitments and a lower total than the last year. The whole team is pretty down.

One member says, “Well, most of them are on fixed incomes. What do you expect?” Another chimes in, “Yes, and the economy isn’t good.” A third offers, “There’s a lot of people out of work, you know.” Feeling a little better now that they have some excuses the team leader says, “We’ll just have to cut back again and wait until things perk up.”

What has happened here? Why did they fall so short of their goal? They followed the program and told the congregation the church’s needs. What else is there?

Possibly, just like the experience with the lamp, the team had no POWER. There was no connection, no real reason for giving. People give generously when they understand they are saying thanks to God for the good things they have been given themselves. That power, that connection to God fulfills a need inside each of us that “turns on” a feeling of compassion and love.

There’s more to motivating people to give than following a program, and people don’t give to pay the light bill. Without the POWER, the connection to God, the light won’t go on inside anyone. And that, my friends, is the gospel truth.

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:

The Green Sanctuary Movement
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