Advancing the Lord’s Mission Together

LCMS Mission Advancement helps contributors accomplish their goals for giving — all in the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Two bold gifts made last June reflect a growing confidence among contributors in our Synod’s stewardship of resources to advance the Gospel close to home and around the globe.

An anonymous couple from the Great Lakes Region provided a $3.7 million contribution to open the new “Together as Synod” endowment, an invested fund that will provide annual income to be used wherever budgeted LCMS mission and ministry opportunities or financial pressures are greatest. As part of the gift, the couple allowed an amount equal to the first year’s projected income for use in the current fiscal year. They also chose an already recognized name for the endowment in the hope that others in the Synod would be able to add to the fund as the Lord leads, without concerns about satisfying a minimum required gift amount.

At almost the same time, a family foundation in the southeastern U.S. committed a $3.56 million grant to accelerate several strategic focus areas of the Synod’s national and international work. Received at the end of fiscal year 2023, the grant will be expended during the current fiscal year, with the family praying that their investment will inspire others to join them. In both instances, in direct conversations with a mission advocate from LCMS Mission Advancement, the families exhibited high levels of trust that the LCMS will put their interests and goals at the forefront.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with how both of our mission advocates spent time listening very deeply to what God is doing in the lives, hearts and minds of these contributors as they fervently seek to live out their calling as His disciples, and then more time coordinating with internal leadership to carry out each family’s vision and wishes,” said Mark Hofman, executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement. “These two gifts — as with any donation — serve to affirm that the biblical model we’ve adopted for contributor care and service leads to phenomenal mission and ministry partnerships between God’s people and the LCMS. And they are not the only contributors thinking along these lines, that personal investment in the mission by many strengthens the overall mission.”

Hofman emphasized that neither contributor wanted attention, and the details about how they came to make these gifts are being treated with the utmost care.

“These are their own stories to tell, to those they want to hear it,” he said. “We’ve been given permission to share some information about the two gifts, with the donors’ blessing, because we’re seeing this same kind of joy and confidence across all the people and groups who also are choosing to support our Synod’s work, regardless of the amount the Lord leads them to give. Sharing the story of these gifts will hopefully encourage all contributors — especially those who may not see themselves as an equally important player in a larger, inspiring group — to take action to spread the Gospel. The person who sacrifices personal comfort and security to make a $20 one-time donation, because that’s what represents their very best gift, is inspiring to others who see that and ask, ‘What would be my best gift to the Lord for His purposes?’ Sometimes those are the people God has put into a position to give the ‘big gift.’”

Since 2017, Mission Advancement has been shifting its approach to a model Hofman calls “appreciative response.”

“When we’re welcomed into a person’s home or a congregation to have a conversation,” Hofman said, “we don’t charge in with a list of things we’re trying to sell. What is most important is taking time to be genuinely interested in what that person, family or group is trying to express about themselves and their faith through their charitable activities. We work to listen, ask clarifying questions, and try to see the world and their faith journey through their eyes.

“That’s the appreciating part. Only when the person feels they’ve been truly heard can we respond appropriately and begin the deeper conversation about what they are striving to accomplish in the name of Jesus for His glory alone. We recognize God’s Word has worked a driving desire to give to spread the Gospel, and our job is to connect them to the best options available.”

In the case of the “Together as Synod” endowment gift, the couple was in search of a way to continue their consistent support of LCMS mission and ministry as they anticipated the end of their earthly journey. The option of establishing an invested fund, one that would generate an annual gift, was appealing.

Coordinating that plan required input from LCMS leaders as well as the expertise of the LCMS Foundation, which manages these kinds of investments under its charge and charter by the Synod. In the case of the family foundation grant, the decision to give such a transformative donation required close coordination and prioritization by LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson, Chief Financial Officer Nathan Haak and the executive directors of all five of the mission units of the LCMS.

“What was, to me, most impressive about those internal conversations was how no one — not a single person — was competing for the greatest share of this offering. The goal was to deliver the deepest meaning back to the family foundation, focused on what was being made possible because they freely chose to give,” Hofman explained. “It should be that way with every donor, and by God’s grace that’s becoming the standard approach. We are all committed to being vigorous in making known the love of Jesus in word and deed, everywhere and at all times. God is always the best giver, working through His faithful disciples to accomplish His work and will in the world.”

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