Here is a portion of a paper about funding missionaries. It is called “Missionaries Raising Money: Genesis of the LCMS Network-Supported Missionary (NSM) Model”A White Paper of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod May 2013
Beginning in the 1960s, as the baby boom generation matured, a strong spirit of individualism arose. In contrast to the “We” generation (“the greatest generation,” as labeled by author Tom Brokaw), the new “Me” generation began severing ties of allegiance to family, faith traditions and the spirit of sacrifice that were the marks of their parents and grandparents. Slowly, and with growing momentum, charitable giving in support of the church became less about duty and allegiance and more about individual choice. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the nation’s pop culture turned to self-satisfaction and the personal accumulation of wealth as the hallmarks of success, influencing younger generations. “Greed is good,” remarked Hollywood, through movies such as “Wall Street.” One casualty was the offering plate, as the average “tithe” shrank from the common 10 percent of income to a 2010 level of less than 3 percent per household.1 Congregations were the first to feel this decline in perceived value against societal forces, and they still feel it today. 1 Source: Ronsvalle, J. and Ronsvalle, S. (2012). The State of Church Giving through 2010. Empty Tomb, Inc. Campaign, Illinois.
What if duty and allegiance was never really a good motivator anyway. Is that “Biblical stewardship”? Stewardship it would seem to me would be a part of that explanation of Luther about why we pray. We give, because of our and our neighbors great need. We need to give and they need for us to give. 2 Corinthians 8:13-14 13For I mean not that other men be eased, and you burdened: 14But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
What we are missing here is the fact that a couple of generations have passed and the new folks coming up will give of their time and talent and treasure and do it willingly and sacrificially if it is about the “other”, the meek and low and the suffering. They have an enormous sense of injustice and unfairness that is not just about them and we ignore them at our peril. They don’t see stewardship as re-carpeting the basement or redoing the parking lot. They see stewardship as fairness or equality.
Mercy is huge here because these new generations hear the call of Jesus to be disciples, sent ones, and for many what he calls us to do is have an eye for His “little ones” and the “least of these His brothers”. You want support and gifts from these folks you had better have a story about those little ones and what you are trying to do for the least.