Cohort 3: 2019-2020

Reported results from Cohort 3 - Statements of Intent, Donors Who Increased/Decreased, Anticipated Revenue Change

I believe that because of sharing information and asking for thoughtful and prayerful consideration to re-evaluate their giving made an impression on many in the congregation as the overall giving was increased considerably.  Just seeing the numbers and how a small increase would make a big difference inspired me to give more.

I think over the next few years we will see the congregation’s understanding and participation in stewardship deepen with the program. The culture shift from stewardship being just about money and mostly about obligation will take some time, but I think we are beginning to see people put their passion into practice through their giving and involvement.​

SAS has enabled us to increase our ministry budget significantly to begin empowering ministry by moving pastoral time and compensation from 1/2 to 3/4 time. We also made the commitment with that appeal to increase our giving to Synod by $1000. These are significant increases for such a small congregation. We are excited to be growing in ministry while growing our ability to give to the Synod. We appreciate the benefits of the Lily Grant that empowered us to participate in SAS which in turn empowered us to grow our ministry impact. - Pr. Wendy Kalan, Shepherd of the Valley, LaSalle, CO

Since Shepherd of the Hills, Fort Collins, has been in pastoral transition this past year, many of the inward and outward looking ideas that were generated during congregational meetings worked well with the development of our SAS program.  SAS helped our congregation grow in generosity by helping us use these ideas to focus on our strategic plan and ministry initiatives.  With these tangible ministries, we all responded well to the idea of increasing our giving by “falling upward” one step on the giving chart.

The generosity team persistently encouraged generosity for about 9 weeks through the appeal letters and brochures, temple talks, small group meetings, thank yous and progress notes in the bulletin and on the bulletin boards in the narthex.  In addition, our pastor must have mentioned or preached on generosity almost every Sunday.  Giving a temple talk was a real challenge for all of us.  These weeks and weeks of generosity conversations and communicating stewardship goals helped everyone be very intentional in their pledges when we finally celebrated “Commitment Sunday”.

Budget may be a “dirty word”, but everyone at Shepherd of the Hills, Fort Collins, was thrilled by the increase in the number and the amount of our pledges for 2020.    It was a difficult decision last year, but our approved 2019 budget was $10,000 in the red.   However, at the end of the year, we were $200 in the black. I believe that our focus on generosity and stewardship throughout the year encouraged everyone to give just a little more.   Although we did not reach our goal of $27,000 over our budget for 2020, our budget is enough in the black that we will be able to start work on parts of our ministry initiatives.  We were also able to give our staff raises in 2020. And as we all know, the more we give, the easier it is to give more. - Shepherd of the Hill Lutheran Church- Fort Collins, CO

The SAS program changed our perspective on stewardship by focusing on generosity.  The direction of the consulting firm was very valuable in helping develop a successful campaign. Our fall campaign was successful because with the direction of GSB we focused on generosity and its importance to meet our ministry initiatives.   This was a change in the message for our stewardship appeals.  It was appreciated by our members to have objective ministry initiatives to focus on rather than just the idea that we need to increase giving or tithing.   As a members of the stewardship committee, I appreciate having the ministry initiatives so that we can continue to communicate with the congregation during the year of the Joyful success we have in 2020.​ - Joe Fangman, Joy Lutheran, Parker, CO

 SAS provided a whole new perspective on stewardship and generosity. By looking at and focusing on Ministry Initiatives rather than budget and dollars, I think people were more receptive to increasing their giving. Now there is a purpose for how our money is being used beyond the “nuts and bolts” of everyday expenses. Plus, the concept that this is a year round program and not a “once and done” campaign; that there are things we can be doing throughout the year to keep stewardship in the forefront, not the background. Finally, keeping the word “budget” out of the conversation was quite helpful.

We hadn’t had a stewardship program or pledge drive for a few years; we were in transition for almost a year; our membership numbers were down for various reasons, but our budget remained stable. With Church Council’s blessing and an anonymous donation, we decided to take a leap of faith and participate in Cohort 3 of SAS and start an intentional stewardship program. By working with the GSB consultants, following their guidelines (dos and donts), and using their handbook, we had astounding results. Keeping in mind that our interim pastor left in September, so we didn’t have a pastor, and we started our campaign in November with our Commitment Sunday on December 8, 2019, we DOUBLED our goal of $12,000!!! We had 31 giving units - our total was $24,586 ($20,286-statements of intent & $4,300-cash donations)!!! In my opinion, having a purpose (Ministry Initiatives), regular communication, and thanking are the keys to a successful campaign. - Joan Mahoney, Prince of Peace, Logan, UT

I think that it renewed a spirit of giving and commitment has been present at OSLC over the years. SAS gave voice to that spirit once again.

Incorporating ministry initiatives into the stewardship process was new to our congregation and what it needed to truly put a stake in the ground on funding necessary items starting 2020.  In a way, it was a way to become accountable on things that we have said we would like to do, but had never put a plan in action to make it happen.  There is still a tremendous opportunity for growth when it comes to the topic of cultivating a generous congregation and the church council is fully aware of the opportunity to continue stewardship education.

Focus on generosity. Commitment to a year-long program. Mission initiatives gave us local homegrown commitment for the congregation. Goals are reachable, practical and exciting.

We had a visitor come on one of the three Sundays we had folks do temple talks. He wrote a letter that he was moved by the couple’s story of giving and included a check for $2,000 for our youth ministry. He was a former member who lives on the east coast and was just elated to be back after a decade or more.

Larger percentage of congregation contacted and participated in SAS than in recent stewardship programs. Definitely increased our perspective on faith driven generosity.

Helped us begin to develop a true spirit of generosity that we can maintain long term.

SAS helped us be far more intentional and effective about communicating two "whys" of our stewardship work. (1) We focus on financial stewardship not in order to "meet the budget" but to accomplish specific ministry goals that make real differences in the lives of both those who for whom the ministries are intended (e.g., youth) and also those who help lead and/or support those ministries (e.g., adult sponsors, the whole congregation). (2) We work together on financial stewardship because it is a vital aspect of our individual and shared growth as followers of Jesus Christ.

Cohort 2: 2018 - 2019

The SAS program provided good materials and mentoring as we worked through this different approach, but the key is to have full buy-in from top leadership.  Our pastor provided strong leadership & we were consistent in presenting our goals from not just a financial need but as a direct connection to our mission and ministry.  While the number of pledges (at about 73% of active family units) did not significantly increase, the amount pledged did.  Overall pledges increased by 14.3% (exceeding our goal) and for those who had pledged in both 2018 & 2019, pledges increased over 20%. In addition, a special facilities repair/renovation appeal was a part of our SAS program, with a goal of $40,000, raised $50,850. - Mary Anne McKenzie, Christ the King, Denver, CO

As a redevelopment congregation, we struggle with the prospects of both short-term and long-term sustainability.  There has been much fear and anxiety in our system about whether we have a future as a congregation.  Coupled with our our redevelopment process, SAS equipped our congregation to not be fearful about our giving, but to look to what God is doing in our midst, and how our generosity can help us respond.  In 2018 we saw over 15% growth in giving, plus we were able to raise over $50,000 in capital to address deferred maintenance and building improvements.  The fear and anxiety around finances has dissipated and we have some individuals who are thinking of making estate gifts/legacy gifts because they want to make sure our long-term future can be realized.  SAS gave us the tools we needed, as a pastor and as a congregation, to lead not a campaign, but a cultural transformation. - Pr. Joel Rothe, Christ the King Lutheran, Denver, CO

The financial stewardship drive was highly successful. Eighty percent of those in our congregation who were contacted either directly or in follow-up calls responded with a Statement of Intent.  Further, we exceeded the aggressive goal we had set at the start by over 40%. Of course, now everyone who turned in a Statement of Intent needs to follow-through.  Hence, the year-round aspect is import I think. - Paul Ruths, Grace Lutheran, Colorado Springs

I asked the council to commit to SAS just a few months after I began my call as pastor. They had just weathered several difficult years of challenging conversations about their viability, resulting in moving from a full-time to part-time pastor, and moving from rented space to sharing space with St Laurence Episcopal Church. The incentive to name ministry initiatives right away focused our energy. As a result we called a (non-stipendiary) deacon and launched an occasional worship designed to bring the generations together in faith formation and relationship building in the context of worship. The fall stewardship campaign resulted in statements of intent going from $79,000 for 2018 to almost $94,000 for 2019. We added a fifth local organization to our benevolence and will continue with our practice of giving 10% of actual offerings to the Rocky Mountain Synod (up $1720). We are already planning a time for summer to identify ministry initiatives for 2020. - Pr. Kim Gonia, Risen Lord Lutheran, Conifer, CO

We set out with a goal of increasing our church's donations by an additional $47,000 over what was needed for the operating budget so that we could finance four new initiatives (or ministries): "Elders Alive!", "ABQ-Lu.", "Make A Joyful Noise", and "Christ's Church, Better Together".  We had not had a stewardship drive the previous year, so we didn't know what to expect.  Plus, we had lost many members in the last two years, so, again, this lack of information on who was going to pledge/how much people were going to pledge/how much of an increase people were going to pledge over previous years/etc., left us truly "in the dark". We did not know how much money we were going to be able to raise for the actual budget, let along these new ministries.  (Our budget for calendar year 2018 was in the "red" for almost the entire year.)

After receiving the pledges in December, we found that we had actually raised approximately $60,000 over previous years.  However, since we have fewer members, we discovered during the budget-setting period that we would need to scale down our ministries and only budget approximately $31,000 towards those ministries in order to present a balanced budget to the congregation for calendar year 2019.  (The Benevolence ministry, however, was not scaled back. We felt that this particular ministry should receive the exact amount {$7,000} that we had requested from the congregation.)  Since we had consistently said during our presentations that the other three ministries were created with the possibility of scaling their costs, the vast majority of the congregation was supportive when we presented this at the Annual Meeting in January.

We received very few negative comments throughout this process.  Those members who have remained in our congregation throughout the problems we have faced over the last few years have been very supportive.  There is still a number of people who do not pledge, so that is an area of opportunity for us.  Our committee is already discussing a "Special Appeal Drive" for this Spring and believe that we can reach out to those "non-pledge members" to commit more easily to this smaller appeal which will in turn make the concept of pledging more "appealing" to them in the future.  (pun intended) - Barbara Shirrod, St. Luke Lutheran, Albuquerque, NM

We had a very successful campaign and during this campaign we had 12 new members come forward.  10 of which pledged.  The specificity of asking for help, and the newfound focus that SAS helped us prepare was so important.  People want to be part of a church that is in transition and is coached well.  We felt very supported by Evan's coaching, and I know that as the redevelopment pastor his personal coaching was crucial. - Our Savior's Lutheran, Denver, CO

For more Stewardship for All Seasons Cohort 1 stories in video, visit