Mission Support 101

As congregation finance people put together a budget for 2019, it is a good time to talk about Mission Support. What is it? It is the lifeblood of our interdependent denomination: congregations share Mission Support dollars with their synods, and the synods then share it with the churchwide organization. These funds flow back to ELCA members, congregations, institutions and global companions through churchwide and synodical ministries. If you’ve been reading these mission messages for all or part of the last 6 years, you are aware of the wide variety of ministries that mission dollars support: hunger, disaster relief, advocacy, seminaries, chaplains, missionaries, candidacy, call processes, malaria eradication, campus ministry, immigration services, racial justice, new congregation starts, outdoor ministry, youth ministry. And that is not even an exhaustive list! 

So, how does it work? Most congregations have a line in their budget that they intend to send to the synod, while some congregations depend on dedicated donations. The tithe (10%) is the benchmark for faithful giving, of individuals to their congregation, and of congregations to their synod. The synod passes 50% of what it receives from congregation on to the churchwide ELCA. So a portion of your personal offering ends up in Syracuse and Chicago, allowing you to make a difference way beyond just your own congregations.   

If you think of Mission Support as a verb, that this is what we do, then you can see it as a continuation of the work we do, sharing our firstfruits to expand beyond our local communities to other places to follow the Gospel. 

So, when you are at your congregational meeting and are presented with the 2019 budget to approve, look for a line that says “Mission Support.” If you don’t see it, ask about it. If it seems miniscule compared to your congregation’s income, suggest increasing it, even just by 1%. This is definitely one instance where we are literally church together for the sake of the world! 

God’s Work. Our Hands.

Katherine Neugent