Thrive! FAQ’S

We hear that question everywhere. The answer? Thrive has something for everyone! All the goals and initiatives are designed to invest in congregations across the synod by recruiting and equipping leaders, and aiding in building up congregational worship life, which is at the core of what we are about. The stronger the synod is, the more opportunity it provides every leader – lay or rostered – to grow and develop. A study in another synod determined the clergy were fearful of the future of their vocation. Making an investment in Thrive says we believe God still has a vital plan for ministry here in Southern Ohio.

It is possible there could be some realignment of current staff, but instead of staff leading all the initiatives in Thrive, much will be either peer led or led by consultants. Full responsibility is not on staff to lead everything. Everything being staff-led is an old model and not the way to thrive.

Each synod has different initiatives when they do a synod campaign, some meant for long-term support and others for immediate concerns. So, we do not know the end results yet for any other synod. What we can tell you is:

  • Virginia Synod reached a $2 million endowment goal and it is nearly half funded at this point, so it is providing budget relief as it begins to pay out, which was the goal. It should be fully funded by the end of this year.
  • South Carolina is a couple years past reaching their goal. They are using proceeds from their campaign to have congregations participate in Stewardship for All Seasons (SAS), which is already available to congregations in Southern Ohio. In the first year, the 4 congregations involved increased annual revenues by approximately $400,000. These congreg
  • ations will provide 10% of that increase to their synod as additional mission support, leading to long-term sustainability.
  • South East Michigan is nearly at their goal. In addition to SAS, they offered congregations training by LEAD for knowing their neighborhoods and will begin in the next few months administering grants to congregations to launch initiatives into their neighborhoods.  The synod will invest all this money into congregations with the intention that the leaders and congregations will be stronger.
  • In East Central Wisconsin, they have just started a campaign, but already launched 3 of the initiatives, one of which was to install a virtual hub.  This year, they gathered at their hub and had a virtual visit with the author of a book they had read together.

Of course, the devil is always in the details. Yet, if we can’t fund the big dream it’s pretty fruitless to work out all the little details. The campaign, therefore, provides a big picture (vision) plus the impetus (funds) for gathering people together to work out the little details.

The principle reminded one synod pastor of the first effective stewardship campaign held in a church of his three decades ago. They never dreamed about anything because they said they couldn’t afford to do anything. Then, because of a new and better stewardship campaign, they ended up with $18,600 more than what was in that year’s vision-less budget. The additional income forced them to dream about how to use it, which impelled them to develop broad — and then specific — plans. It was the start of 13 years in a row of bigger budgets, bigger dreams, membership growth, and ultimately the building of a new church

Good question! Here are the distinctions:

Regular Mission Support is money sent to the Southern Ohio Synod from individual congregations to support the Mission and Ministry Plan of the Synod and, by extension, the ELCA, which receives 40% of any unrestricted Regular Mission Support the Synod receives. Synod budgets are based on anticipated Regular Mission Support income during any one fiscal year. For example, the 2020-21 Mission and Ministry Plan budget, approved at the recent 2019 Assembly, is $1,850,000 and is based on anticipated receipts during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Regular Mission Support provides funding for:

  • Compensation of Synod Staff
  • Synod Office Operating Expenses
  • Candidacy
  • Current Missions and Redevelopments, and
  • Support to Campus Ministries, Trinity Seminary, Capital University and Wittenberg

Additionally, Regular Mission Support funds budgeted ministry programs of the Synod, such as:

  • Youth & Family Ministries
  • Congregational Development
  • Lay Leadership Training, and
  • Ministries to Rostered Leaders.

Thrive! Equipping a Vibrant Church Together is a 3-year capital campaign running from January 2020 through December 2022. Income to Thrive will come through pledges made to the campaign by individuals, congregations and/or other organizations. Donations to Thrive are to be over and above Regular Mission Support.

All donations to Thrive will be collected, maintained and accounted for separately from Regular Mission Support. Consequently, Thrive income will not be part of any year’s synod budget. Rather, it will be put toward the five goals of the Thrive campaign:

  • Equipping Lay Leaders through new initiatives
  • Raising Up Leaders for Smaller Congregations via TEEM & SAM programs
  • Strengthening Rostered Ministers by way of mentoring and seminary debt reduction
  • Launching New Congregations and Reaching New People by launching two new satellite congregations, and
  • Enhancing Worship Practice by providing resource musicians, training and mentoring networks

Thrive, therefore, helps fulfill the Synod’s vision by covering initiatives not funded through Regular Mission Support. Additionally, since participating in the Thrive campaign will both teach effective stewardship practices to congregations and develop planned giving programs, it is expected that offerings given to congregations will increase, which will in turn enable congregations to increase their Regular Mission Support to the Synod. Thus, Thrive provides a sustainable model for the mission of the Synod in years to come, so that we will be Stronger and Better Together: Joining Jesus in the Restoration of the World.

For more information about Thrive, click here on the Synod’s website or contact Thrive Campaign Manager, Pastor Larry Donner, at

For more information contact Campaign Manager, Pastor Larry Donner, by completing the form below.