hofman.gifMark Hofman understands President Matthew C. Harrison’s call to action more keenly than most: “It’s time for us, together, to get our financial house in order” (May 2011, The Lutheran Witness). As the Synod’s new executive director of Mission Advancement, Hofman works in the world of dollars and cents, major gifts and direct-response appeals, campaigns and special programs.

“The choices we make as stewards ultimately either lift up Christ for the world to see, or they hide Him from the view of others,” says Hofman candidly. “The same holds true of the material things God has entrusted to us. Ultimately, a Christian steward is motivated to make good choices by the empty cross and tomb of our Lord Jesus who even forgives us when we make poor choices.”

Mindful of this, Hofman sees his role as one that engages the Church in her life together so that she can remain a vibrant and faithful source of witness and mercy. Read now, in his own words, about the Church’s understanding of stewardship and the way in which God continues to care for His children.

WMLT: When it comes to raising money, meeting budgets and giving, what is your prayer for the Church?
MH:  My first prayer is that the Holy Spirit would help us live out the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed. Luther explains that all we truly need comes from the loving hand of God, yet we so often think that it’s up to us to scrape together what we need and want. My second prayer is that all of us would give serious thought to what the word stewardship really means. We’ve somehow reached a point where it is perceived as only being about money. Stewardship is how we use all of God’s gifts, not simply the gift that comes in the form of dollars and cents. Luther tells us that God gives us our clothing, shoes, food, families, vocations, all of it. My responsibility as a manager of those gifts is to use them in ways that thank, praise, serve and obey Him.

WMLT:  What blessings have you already seen in this role?
MH:  All those who support the Synod’s national and international ministries—regardless of how they route that support to the field—are the biggest blessing.

WMLT:  What are some of the challenges?
MH:  Membership in the LCMS is declining, so there are fewer households who can support the work. Congregation and district resources are strained. Engaging more people and inviting them to join us in supporting ministry efforts is the first order of business. It comes at a time when the national economy has instilled a real sense of fear and uncertainty about the future. That uncertainty and fear also increases the demand for witness and mercy work, so it becomes cyclical. Then, there’s the reality that our opportunities to witness will always demand more in resources than our fund-raising efforts can supply. This reality draws us back to the meaning of stewardship, which is the discerning use of limited resources to achieve God’s marvelous purpose for His Church.

For more on Mark Hofman, go to http://bit.ly/t5gZK1

(Interview and article by Adriane Dorr)