Message from Steve Oelschlager of the ELCA on Stewardship
"Dear friend in Christ,
I'm puzzled and disappointed that in the midst of so much hurt in our world, the self-improvement industry continues to grow while more people are concluding that the church isn't relevant to their lives. Did you know that in the United States our suicide rate is at a 30-year high (45,000 people per year), drug and alcohol addiction affects 1 in 10, more people die from drug overdoses (60,000 people per year) than gun violence or car accidents, and life expectancy has peaked for the first time in decades? Researcher Brene Brown puts it this way: 'We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.'
While this is happening, people in the U.S. are consuming books, events, groups, programs and techniques related to 'self-help' to the tune of $10 billion per year. It's astounding to me that this is roughly six times the amount of money collected by all ELCA congregations for regular giving last year.
When we connect the dots, this paradox emerges: Significant numbers of people are profoundly hurting, people are spending money to find ideas to make life better, and the larger percentages look at organized religion and conclude it doesn't have anything to offer, or it isn't worth the effort. How can this be?
As we continue to look for better ways to engage people in a life of faith, in the church, and specifically in becoming disciples and stewards, my prayer is that we can stay inspired."