What are the words you long to hear most from the children in your life? Is it that very first "mama" or "dada" that you still hold dearest? Or is it the periodic "I love you"s that get you through the demands of your day? I can answer yes to both.
But the sweetest words I will ever hear came out of my eldest's mouth just this past Sunday. She affirmed her infant baptism, and through the Rite of Confirmation,
she said "I BELIEVE!"
People of faith, get real with me.... Could there possibly be ANY other words that we long to hear MORE than these?!
If you know me or have followed me, or have been a client, a student, a co-worker, or a donor, you know I care deeply about passing on a legacy of faith to the next generation. Probably because every generation before me cared enough to do the same for me! And for this I am so very grateful!
I keep this photo on my desk as one of many legacy reminders in my life. The infant is my grandmother - Gladys Christina Strande Peterson, born in 1909. She played a significant role in shaping my faith, and so we have named our eldest daughter Christina out of gratitude for Grandma Peterson. Grandma's tough Norwegian immigrant godmother is on the left, and her mother, Julia Knutson Strande, is on the right. (Julia's immigrant parents were Ole and Lena Knutson - yes, really - but that is a different day's blog post.)
I've asked this question of the donors I've worked with over the past 35 years...
"What's inspired your faithful and generous support for this ministry?" The answer usually has something to do with gratitude. One of my followup questions is often this - "What's the one thing that would most motivate your gift decisions in the future?" This answer usually has something to do with passing on faith to their grandchildren. Some tell me they lose sleep worrying whether or not the next gen will say "I Believe." They wonder if these ministries they've supported all their lives will even survive the current culture, much less thrive in it and be there to walk alongside their loved ones.
Christina's "I Believe" has given me pause to reflect on a few "I Believe"s of my own.
I BELIEVE that the 3-in-1 God who claimed me in baptism is my Reason for Being - period. Insert my favorite scripture passages, creeds, and hymns here - I BELIEVE!!!
I BELIEVE that God isn't finished with the church on earth just yet, despite all of the signals pointing in that direction. On the contrary, I Believe in a God of both mercy and might who will neither forsake us, nor our children's children.
I BELIEVE that this generation of God' people must STEP UP rather than GIVE UP.
Here are 3 steps I'm inviting you to take with me:
1) Read John Roberto's new book Faith Formation with the New Generation. And while you're at it, learn a whole lot more about it at LifelongFaith.com or VibrantFaith.org
2) Pay for your children, grandchildren or somebody else's children to go to Bible camp. Nothing - NO NOTHING - shapes the faith of our youth like these experiences. Go to the websites of these favorites of mine, and discover why and how.
Cathedral of the Pines, Lutsen MN
Green Lake Bible Camp, Spicer MN
Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camps, Amery WI
Mount Carmel Ministries, Alexandria MN
3) Attend my Legacy Giving Leaders Academy on November 2nd so you can learn how to grow your ministry's endowment and fund its future. This half-day workshop will equip ministry leaders, endowment volunteers, and professional advisers with philanthropy's best planned giving practices. I'll introduce you to trusted experts, provide hands-on training, and equip you with easy-to-use tools for doing this work. Invite your pastor or executive director of the ministry you hold dear. Give a shout out to the board members or professional advisors you know who are ready to move the needle on generosity. ENROLL NOW or LEARN MORE at www.brendamoore.org.