Great River Question – Financial Practices Guidance from ELCA Churchwide

In a recent meeting of our Great River Conference pastors asked for guidance on counting and other financial matters.

I mentioned there are excellent resources that our churchwide staff have prepared.  Here are some.

Congregational Treasurers Financial and Accounting Guide 


p. 4-5 address the issue of counting offerings.

Financial and Administration Resources of Many Kinds 


Internal Control Best Practices 


Congregation Audit Guide 





Cremation – Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Ministry Resources Developed and Gathered by Pr. Don McKee

Our Lac Qui Parle Conference began a conversation about funeral practices and cremation. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Montevideo and the conference Dean Pastor Don McKee gathered resources and had conversations with funeral homes in their community about how to shape a policy regarding cremation memorial services.

We decided to share this to help other pastors and congregations think about how to shape your ministry to families who choose cremation.

Here are some resources.  If you have others let me know.  Bishop Jon Anderson


Church and Cremation.2015 Cremation Services Guide1

Funeral Home Policy Funeral Planning Guidelines 2015 – Salem




Equipping Day Presentations – Bishop Jon’s Spirit Led Innovation in an Uncertain Age



We had a great Equipping Day last Saturday. We are thankful for the teaching, conversation, singing, learning, ideas hatched and connections made.

Here are my two PowerPoint presentations.

The first is from my workshop.  The second from my closing presentation.

Formed for the Ongoing Reformation

Innovation – Continual Reformation

Equipping Minister Administrative Assistant Search


We are seeking a part time Administrative Assistant to support Pr. Bill Nelsen in his work with our Embrace God’s Mission + Equip God’s People Funding Initiative and our work with the Lilly Project.

Please share this information with people in your congregation who might be interested and able to move forward this important work.

We will be receiving resumes until Friday Jan. 8.

We are looking for someone who can come to the synod office in Redwood Falls on a weekly basis.

This is a part time position for 8-12 hours a week.

Since the formatting may be lost in this email, the position is also posted on our Faithful and Fruitful Blog.

If you have questions contact Bishop Jon Anderson at

Equipping Minister Administrative Assistant Job Description

Administrative Assistant to the Equipping Minister


Southwestern Minnesota Synod – ELCA

Redwood Falls, MN 56288, 507-637-3904 –

December 14, 2015


Mission Statement

The congregations and all the baptized who are the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are claimed by this mission: God places us in cities, farms and towns together under one prairie sky. The Risen Christ surprises us with opportunities to plant God’s Word in the world. Walking together in confidence, we cultivate life-giving congregations, nurture partner ministries, and cooperate in the life of the ELCA. By God’s grace, together we have what we need.

Office Ministry Vision

We serve and steward the life of the synod to deepen the ministry and mission of the baptized, congregations, institutions and rostered leaders as we follow Jesus Christ in a way that is…authentic, available and affirming.


Desired Outcomes

The Administrative Assistant to the Equipping Minster supports our work on the Economic Challenges of Pastors Grant from Lilly and the Embrace God’s Mission + Equip God’s People Funding Initiative.    We expect our staff to foster a hospitable culture and supporting ministry teams as assigned.


As a result of this ministry

  • We move forward the work of the Lilly Grant during the next three years.
  • We move forward in our three year funding initiative called Embrace God’s Mission + Equip God’s People.
  • People’s gifts and talents are recognized and utilized in meaningful ways.
  • Volunteers and staff serve the work of funding new ways to be synod together.



  • Administrative Assistant to the Bishop
    • Manage general correspondence, gathering and researching data, setting up individual and group gatherings, follow-up administration
    • Keeping the Equipping Ministers’s calendar, arranging appointments, supporting the Equipping Minister in time management, making reservations, etc.
    • Open, screen and route mail and email appropriately.
    • Respond via email on behalf of the Equipping Minister when appropriate
    • Initiate correspondence for the Equipping Minister or Lead Team’s approval:
      • Thank you letters
      • Anniversary letters, etc.
  • Database
    • Oversees management of funding initiative database.
    • Tracks and communicates with action teams.
    • Builds up our synod’s treasure hunting database.
  • IT
    • Maintain back ups


  • Liaison to Various committees, task forces and leadership teams
    • Prepare correspondence, arrangements (order food/set up for meals and cleanup) and do filing for the Lilly Planning Group, Funding Initiative Lead Team and Action Groups serving the synod’s mission:
      • keep files for upcoming agenda items for future meeting.



  • Qualifications
    • Commitment to Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Church
    • In all matters maintain strict office confidentiality
    • Understands the mission and structure of the ELCA and its local, synodical, regional, and churchwide expressions.
    • Computer literacy and willingness to master new programs.
    • Cooperative style of working
    • Skill in composing letters/emails and editing
    • Ability to plan and organize work
    • Ability to maintain cooperative working relationship with synod staff, committees and contacts




  • Associate degree in accounting, business management, or related field.
  • Working knowledge of computers, including word processing and database operations. Excellent keyboarding and grammatical skills.
  • Ability to efficiently and effectively organize and prioritize work activities.
  • Ability to maintain a positive, courteous working relationship with other staff and general public.
  • Ability to articulately communicate ideas and information both verbally and in writing.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality in all matters.
  • Experience in a general or church office setting desired, but not required.





The Administrative Assistant to the Equipping Minister is supervised by the Equipping Minister. Performance reviews will be shared annually with the bishop.


Qualities and Requirements

This ministry team will share the love of Christ, engaging, equipping and serving the rostered leaders and lay leaders of the synod to deepen the mission and ministry of Christ Jesus in the congregations and institutions of our synod.  We will…

  • share a commitment to Jesus Christ as the Lord of the Church.
  • maintain in all matters office confidentiality and deal with issues and concerns directly with those involved.
  • work to deepen understanding of the mission and structure of the ELCA and its local, synodical, regional, and churchwide expressions.
  • be open to new ways of seeing and doing things and open to training in organizational, technical and communication systems.
  • arrive on time for work and meetings, being well prepared to address the issues at hand.
  • speak well of each other, to build up the body of Christ exhibiting a professional work ethic and positive attitude.
  • commit to ongoing personal and professional growth.
  • support a cooperative style of working honoring each other’s working style.
  • maintain a cooperative working relationship with synod staff, committees and contacts Appreciate and affirm each other’s gifts
  • affirm, encourage, pray for, and bless one another and the ministries each represents


Benefits and Wellness

  • Part time staff are not benefitted.
  • Quarterly ministry reviews for the first year. Then annual ministry reviews.
  • Continuing education, support, and networking will be supported as supervisor decides.






You Make Ministry Happen

As of the end of November, your synod’s total mission support is $9,846 more than last year at this time for a total of $1,449,048.34 (79.6% of the yearly budget)
We made a slide show that you could use to celebrate the ministry your congregation’s mission support makes happen. It is an update of our synod assembly presentation. Every day, every hour, your gifts make mission and ministry happen in your synod and the larger church. We give thanks to God for your partnership in the Gospel.  Thanks for your generosity.
Click here to download a PowerPoint file. If your congregation does not use PowerPoint click here to share a PDF document.

Youth Ministry Education to Consider from Sarah Hausken

Youth Ministry Education to Consider


  1. Vibrant Faith Training School – they have a long history of training youth ministers. This class started at Wartberg Seminary and was previously called ” Youth Ministry Certification School”  – this is going to give you a classic, well rounded, foundational yet practical education.


  1.  Faith 5 – Personally, I believe that teaching households to practice Faith5 is one of the best things we can do in youth and family ministry.  Explore the idea here:  And read the book, Holding your Family Together by Dr. Rich Melheim


  1. Rich Melheim is also working on a movement to transform Sunday School into Cross Generational opportunities to make lifelong followers of Jesus. The speaker at our most recent synod Youth Worker Retreat was Amy Kippen from West Fargo.  She spoke very convincingly on why we need to do something entirely different with Sunday School.  Rich Melheim’s book, Let’s Kill Sunday School before it Kills the Churchhighlights a bunch of congregations who have been trying something different.  The title of the book is pretty harsh, but truly, I would recommend reading at least Amy Kippen’s chapter.


  1. Recharge – the one day shot in the arm with very helpful workshops.


  1. Select Learning – This is a very accessible and cost effective way to do deep biblical and theological education. They have courses on many different topics.  I took the one in American Church History and loved it.  It looks like this winter they’re offering: * Introduction to the Old Testament, * Lutheran Heritage, * Systematic Theology: Fundamentals of Christian Theology, and * Foundations of Biblical Preaching. Here’s the online learning courses that you do with a cohort. Here are the DVD courses that you do by yourself or with a local group.


  1. Luther Seminary Kairos courses. They are continuing education for pastors and lay leaders. There are tons of options, but I think the Genesis to Revelation J. Term class would be super for Biblical foundation.  It used to be offered only to seminary students. But it’s coming up. Jan 11-15, 2016.  Also, I think the Bonhoeffer as Youth Ministry class with Dr. Andy Root in October 2016 would be fun.  Andy is a youth minister turned theologian/professor.


  1. Practice Discipleship – FREE, online classes from some of the best minds in Lutheran Youth Ministry.  Watch them from your computer – excellent and free!


  1. The Livingroom Summit – taught by some great leaders/ teachers  Lyle Griner, Andrea Fieldhouse and Marilyn Sharpe. This training  is based on the fact that for most people, their greatest faith mentors are their parents.  At the livingroom summit they teach you how to pass on faith at home. description  You could also poke around the peerministry site.


  1. Youth Leadership has wonderful training events.  Tiger McCluen has been around a long time yet he always stays fresh. They have all sorts of options and formats. I see they have a Certification School too that includes children’s ministry. I don’t know anyone who has done this training but I bet it’s good. One thing to note – the Vibrant Faith certification has it’s roots in the Lutheran church while the Youth Leadership one has it’s roots in the Baptist and Covenant Church.


  1. ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza Continuing Education Event – it’s like a youth gathering for adults with thoughtful speakers, in depth workshops and time to learn from your colleagues.


  1. Luther Seminary Lay School of Theology.  These are excellent classes but they’re offered on a weekly basis.  If that works with your schedule and life.