The second most asked question I receive in my role as Director for Stewardship of the Nebraska Synod is, “What is Mission Share?”
This question always comes right behind, “What is stewardship?” or “What does stewardship really mean?” I am delighted with the questions and they always seem to lead to rich conversations, connections, ideas, and often even action.
In thinking about mission share today, I want to first define it within my context of the Nebraska Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); and second, then explain why I am a fan of the term and concept.
What is Mission Share?
Mission Share is how every congregation does ministry that spans the globe. It is a congregation’s undesignated offering that is shared with the Nebraska Synod and the larger ELCA. Through congregational and individual support of mission share, the Synod and larger ELCA can:
- Plant and support new and renewing congregations;
- Develop and share new resources;
- Send missionaries around the world;
- Support the work of seminaries in raising up new pastors, deacons, and leaders;
- Respond to human need through hunger and disaster ministries;
- And so much more…
Why call it Mission Share?
The name “Mission Share,” is unique to Nebraska. The majority of the ELCA calls this “Mission Support.” The function and result is the same, as it is the undesignated giving from congregations that help the larger church do its work, as partners in ministry together.
I am a fan of calling it “Mission Share,” instead of “Mission Support,” however. Both words, “share” and “support,” connote ideas of participation, but I believe the word share is stronger. Support could mean any contribution and does not necessarily mean a long-term investment. The idea of a share though, brings to mind images of shares of crops or stock, shares of something that you have a vested interest in and are a part of. This is something more than a good cause that you offer a one-time gift or contribution too. A share usually means there is a longer term relationship or interest involved.
Maybe I am splitting hairs here. It wouldn’t be the first time. But as a believer in nuance, I believe words matter.
For more on mission share, please check out these videos and stories available from the Nebraska Synod, including the video from the ELCA below about how “We are Church Together.” For more frequently asked questions about mission support from the ELCA check out this helpful document.
P.S.- A Word of Caution
A word of caution about the image or term of “share” as it relates to mission and the church- please do not take this to mean that we are “owners of the church” or “owners of mission.” At most, we are stewards of the church that God has entrusted us with the responsibility and opportunity to lead and participate. It’s God’s Church after all, so there’s no ownership on our part.