This is in response to Rev. Matthew Harrison’s comments in last month’s question-and-answer spread (“President’s office nominees address issues in Synod,” Pages 6-7) on what he would do to “lead the Synod … in stewarding its resources and people.”
It may be true that funding from the districts to the Synod has dropped from $28 million to $18 million since 1982, but this is only part of the story. During that same period of time, direct contributions to LCMS World Mission from congregations and their individual members went from about $855,000 in 1982 to a total of more than $11.5 million in 2009, including more nearly $2 million in direct support for new missionaries and volunteers serving on mission fields. By any measure, this is a remarkable growth in support of missions.
LCMS congregations and their members are growing in their commitment to evangelize the world, and they are showing this through their gifts.
To dismiss the Synod’s Fan into Flame program as contributing only to Synod deficits, I think, lacks perspective. LCMS members have given and pledged more than $55.6 million as of June 22, and these gifts are already supporting LCMS work. By the end of the 2009 fiscal year, Fan into Flame had distributed more than $10 million dollars to congregations and districts as well as to national and international mission projects, and those gifts will continue.
LCMS members clearly want to make their own choices about the work they support. They do not want to put mission gifts in the Sunday morning offering to support work in all kinds of places they know nothing about, no matter how valuable that work may be. They want opportunities to be personally involved: praying, learning, telling, sending, going, giving and celebrating the work they passionately believe in.
The times have changed. LCMS members have not turned their backs on what their church is trying to do. They have simply chosen to make their gifts to the work of the Synod in different ways. We thank God for their commitment!
Dr. Daniel L. Mattson
Dr. Mattson is associate executive director of LCMS World Mission. Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, executive director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care, responded to Dr. Mattson’s letter at Reporter’s invitation. Rev. Harrison’s response follows. — Ed.
Thank you to my colleague, Dr. Mattson. I, too, rejoice over those things he points out as blessings. It was rather impossible to stuff everything that should be said into such limited space. No offense was intended. I apologize for any given.
I remain rather convinced of a few simple biblical principles of stewardship (Luke 14:28; Prov. 22:7). A significant one is that we should not spend more than we take in. In fact, we should make an effort to spend slightly less than we receive. “We took some in. We spent some. And we had some left over at the end of the year.” That’s an ideal financial report in my book!
For a fuller view of the finances of the Synod and of LCMS World Relief, see www.lcms.org/?17177 online.
Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
Please send letters via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. Please include your name, postal address and phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. — Ed.
Posted July 1, 2010