Adam J. Copeland, director of the Center for Stewardship at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., in the November cover story of The Lutheran magazine presents and corrects five myths about young adults and giving. In November, Living Lutheran highlights Copeland’s suggestions for turning these money myths into engaging ministry with young adults.

Money matters most.

When we talk about stewardship in the church, the topic of money gets most of our focus. This tendency makes sense since money helps fund mission, and money has a dangerous power over much of our lives.

While I’m all for holistic stewardship, I admit that at the end of the day money matters. Yet, money may not matter most when addressing young adults.

Correcting myth #3: Focus on generosity and the variety of ways to give.

Jordan Elton, 22, a Lutheran in Washington, D.C., works for a non-profit that engages young adults for social action. She cautioned, “Young adults definitely need a lot of convincing to get invested in a cause.” That investment may not start with a financial gift. Instead, young people may want to volunteer first with an organization before giving.

Elton says young people like to know very clearly how their gift would be used. “That’s why I give and volunteer,” Elton said. “I like to see the progress that’s being made. At the end of the day, it wasn’t all me, but I can see what’s going on in this place.”

You may recall the classic “three Ts” of stewardship: time, talent and treasure. For some young adults, investing time and talent comes before treasure. The money may follow but only after a period of cultivating different ways of giving.

Similarly, many electronic giving campaigns, including crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, encourage those asking for money to include videos with compelling images and storytelling. When young adults can clearly envision where, or to whom, their money will go, they are more likely to give.

Adam J. Copeland
Adam Copeland teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he is director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.

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