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 anticipated financial resources.
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 nearby. And, since our congregations are members of a synod, they also recognize that they join with all the other congregations of the synod to carry out ministry together that individual congregations could not easily do alone.
Fall is also the time when synod administrators are developing the synod’s ministry financial plan (budget) for the next two years. Like the budget in your congregation, the ministry financial plan is much more than a list of line items with dollar amounts attached. More accurately, it is a description of the synod’s plan for ministry, along with the resources needed to carry it out. The plan is based on careful estimates of the financial resources that, God willing, will be available from all sources. Those sources 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). Congregations throughout the synod inform synod planners what they intend to send as their gift to support our work together.
Your congregation’s mission offering is 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 India where hundreds of children learn to know 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 enable campus ministries to serve young people at many different universities. Your generous gifts support the work of WELS Congregational Services, which provides resources and advice to congregations as they carry out their local 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, 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. Talk to your congregational leaders and with your fellow members. And pray that God will continue to bless the work we do together in his name.
Watch a special video highlighting the many blessings God has granted to WELS ministries.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder