A Rocky Mountain Synod that, living in the promise of God’s abundance in Christ Jesus for the life of the church and the world, trusts the Holy Spirit to renew the life of the church in our day and guide us on the path toward sustainable economics of ministry.


3E develops new programs and strengthens existing programs that:

  • Reduce or alleviate financial pressures inhibiting the ministry of rostered leaders;
  • ​Increase financial literacy and management skills of rostered ministers;
  • Raise awareness in the Rocky Mountain Synod of the key economic challenges facing rostered ministers, congregations, and other ministries of the RMS;
  • Deepen congregational generosity;
  • Right-shape the ministries of the RMS.

3E extends these programs to other expressions of the church, especially our partners in the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA.

Core Values

  • We are better together. As the RMS website puts it: The word synod comes from a Greek word meaning “to travel a common road -- to walk together.” The congregations, the people, and the ministries in our expansive geographical region of the Rocky Mountains - this is synod. The sheer size of our synod provides both challenge and opportunity. As we live by this value, opportunities reframe challenges, giving energy to find new and creative ways to address challenges in hope.

  • We work from abundance. From the opening chapters of Genesis depicting a flourishing, fruitful creation, to Jesus’ mission articulated in the Gospel of John: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” God promises an abundance of gifts for the life of the world. The Lilly Endowment National Initiative and the RMS afford 3E abundant resources to support the development of our programs.

  • Significant, appropriately-gifted, responsible lay leadership. Our Lutheran tradition raises up the priesthood of all believers and acknowledges the holiness of the vocations of the people of God, no matter what walk of life. 3E has flourished all the more by identifying, recruiting, and supporting gifted laypersons in every aspect of this work, from primary leadership to on-the-ground engagement.

  • The power of vulnerability. While vulnerability is often regarded as a weakness and deficit of some sort, we understand that vulnerability is our shared human lot. The appropriate expression of vulnerability subverts dominating power, removes the illusion that “everything is just fine,” and acknowledges reality. Vulnerability allows us to build community and move forward together in compassion and hope.

  • The power of story. By grace, we discover ourselves to be key characters in God’s story of love for and redemption of the world in Christ Jesus. When we share the work and results of 3E in the form of story, and not merely in the reporting of abstract statistics, people are moved in their hearts and become stakeholders in the work of 3E.

  • The power of ground-level relationships. A huge key to our program is grounding it in relationships. We start our programs by meeting real people and real faith communities where they are, whether in the throes of a financial crisis or in the joy of newly discovered opportunities. We listen to what’s actually happening and commit to walking with those we serve.

  • A core leadership team based in trust. Our core leadership team lives in trust of one another (and is rooted in some of the values expressed above: relationship first, vulnerability, that working together is far better than working alone in silos) enables openness, feedback, and critique without a fear of being personally wounded. We see complementarity in giftedness and share a sense of fun amidst our challenges.

  • Accountability to others. In all ways we wish to be authentic, transparent, and accountable to the Lilly Endowment and the staff of the National Initiative Coordination Program, our National Initiative fellow-grantees, our fellow ELCA grantees, our new partners in the Grand Canyon Synod, our Synod Council and Executive Committee, the staff of the office of the bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod, and especially to the people of the Rocky Mountain Synod and the people our programs serve.

  • Adaptive Leadership Model
    As churches face new economic and ministry challenges, Adaptive Leadership calls on them to address problems by focusing on learning, engaging stakeholders, acting, and evaluating.  It calls on leaders to become nimble, be willing to experiment, and even to fail as they seek to approach their challenges in fresh ways.

    Author Ted Bolsinger tells of the experience of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, in which the explorers, equipped with canoes for the expected waterways leading to the Pacific Ocean, discovered themselves in the Rocky Mountains, ill-equipped for this phase of their journey.  In realizing their mission had changed and trading their canoes for horses, Lewis and Clark were adaptive leaders.  Likewise, we recognize that the church now lives in a cultural context for which old tools, old ways, and old outlooks may not help. We seek to adapt and develop new tools, new ways, and new outlooks inspired by the Holy Spirit for this new day in the life of the church.