Fall is the time of year when most congregations begin to discuss and plan their budgets for the coming year. Ministry plans are developed, and then those plans are prayerfully adopted in keeping with the financial resources that are anticipated.
The ministry of a congregation is not limited to what is done locally. Some congregations are members of federations that support Lutheran high schools; others cooperate with neighboring congregations to carry out important joint ministries. And, since our congregations are members of a synod, they also recognize that they join other congregations to carry out ministry together that individual congregations could not easily do alone.
The first congregation I served had a wonderful way of looking at those ministries that extended beyond the local congregation. The section of the budget that included the support for the area Lutheran high school and the synod was labeled “Wider Privileges.” That label was a constant reminder that the congregation’s work beyond local ministry was not an obligation, burden, or imposition.
Fall is also the time when synod administrators develop a ministry financial plan (budget) for the next two years. The Synodical Council and delegates at the synod convention next summer will review the plan. Like the budget in your congregation, the ministry financial plan is much more than a list of line items with dollar amounts attached. More accurate, it is a description of the synod’s plan for ministry with the resources needed to carry it out. Those resources include gifts from individuals, grants from foundations, bequests, and income from investments. But the most important source of financial support comes from congregations like yours through what we call Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO). All of those gifts serve to support the worldwide ministry of WELS.
Your mission offerings are used to operate our system of ministerial education, where young people are trained to serve as pastors, teachers, and staff ministers in congregations like yours. Your gifts to the synod train national pastors in our rapidly growing sister synods in Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Your support enables us to share the gospel with hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America through modern communication tools and helps to operate orphanages in South Asia where hundreds of children learn about their Savior. Your gifts of love and faith provide needed assistance to sister church bodies like the Ukrainian Lutheran Church as they face huge challenges. Your offerings enable WELS to establish and support home missions in places like Houston, Texas, and to aid campus ministries as they serve young people at many different universities. In addition, your generous gifts support the work of WELS Congregational Services, which provides resources and advice to congregations as they carry out their ministries. And, yes, you provide the financial means for the less exciting but necessary administration and structure that support all the ministry we do. These are only a few of the many ways in which your mission offerings are used.
As your congregation decides what its Congregation Mission Offering will be for 2021, don’t just think of the dollars. Think of the faces of the people around the world whose lives and eternities will be changed by the power of the saving gospel. Be a voice that advocates for generous support of this work in your congregation. And pray that God will continue to bless the work we do together in his name.
Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 107, Number 10
Issue: October 2020