Instead, explains Rev. Bruce Barkhauer, director of the Center for Faith and Giving, the event will provide opportunities for group discussions and one-on-one conversations with keynote speakers and leaders about the changing landscape of religious philanthropy.
“We are stewards of the Gospel, not just our financial resources,” Barkhauer says. “Conversations like those at this conference equip us and give us resources to do the work we’re called to do.”
Because of the benefits of such conversations, the ecumenical event’s planners recommend pastors bring lay leaders with them, so the group can more easily return to their congregation and implement new ideas and strategies.
Another unique opportunity at this conference is a first look at the initial findings of the National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP), conducted by the Lake Institute for Faith and Giving. “This conference is crucial for anyone in church finance,” Barkhauer says. “We get the first opportunity to hear about the NSCEP study and provide input for the next phase of the project. Occasions like this don’t happen often, and this specific opportunity comes because of our wider ecumenical spirit.”
This conference is a collaborative effort of stewardship leaders like Barkhauer and his counterparts in other denominations. “Working with ESC made sense for all of us, and we knew that what can we do together has a larger impact across the wider Church.”
Disciples will be well-represented at this ecumenical event. Barkhauer, who currently serves as the chair of ESC’s board of directors, has been involved in the planning. One of the keynote speakers is also a Disciples leader: Rev. Lee Hull Moses, who serves as the Chief of Staff in the Office of the General Minister and President and has published the book, More than Enough: Living Abundantly in a Culture of Excess.
“This conference will really go beyond traditional conversations about stewardship,” Moses explains, “because stewardship is about much more than raising money for the church. It’s about helping people live generous and meaningful lives.”
The work of stewardship, Barkhauer says, is the work of a Church that believes in resurrection. “As I always used to tell my congregations at Easter, Jesus didn’t go through the cross and resurrection to get us into Heaven, but to get Heaven into us and through us into the world.”
The Center for Faith and Giving is one of many general ministries supported by your gifts to the Easter special offering, received in many congregations on April 14 and 21.