Quote of the week:

"Give somebody a job and pay them some money so they can live and educate their children a buy a home and have the basic necessities of life. And no matter what the job is, it takes on dignity."

--The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,
quoted in a Labor Day commentary


Living every moment with awareness of God's abundant generosity.


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'The Treasure Chest'


Resources: Ideas and Programs

I Have Something that Belongs to You - An Exploration in Stewardship of Life - The 12-session study course offered by the Stewardship of Life Institute and written by Foster McCurley.

4G1s: An Introduction to the Gospels with a View of Stewardship as a Way of Faithful Living. Wow! Here's a free online course on biblical stewardship that your congregation can really sink its teeth into. 4G1s pays attention to the stewardship-of-life underpinnings of the four Gospels as it provides a scholarly overview of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Be prepared to consider the "two-source hypothesis" and "redaction criticism." By Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, New Testament professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.

New program! Celebrate Generosity. Here is a great resource for congregations looking for something new to do with stewardship. Celebrate Generosity aims to encourage members of a congregation to increase their giving up to a full tithe or another set goal amount. The free 27-page resource contains not only how-to guides, but also workshop outlines, sample handout materials and other materials. Everything you'll need. It's written by Eugene Grimm, one of the most respected stewardship authors today.  Click here for "Celebrate Generosity" posted on the website of the ELCA Central States Synod.

Gifts in Action: Asset-based stewardship.  Here is a wonderful primer on asset-based stewardship, as well as workshops to explore the issue with the leaders of your church. "Asset-based stewardship begins with gratitude for the gifts God has given us. God gave us those gifts for a reason, and we are called to use them." Click here for "Asset-based stewardship," from the United Church of Canada.

Resistance to Pledging? Ways to Respond. "Are pledges down, but the money seems to be coming in at a rate somewhat above the previous year? If so, your church is not unusual. Many committees on finance are very anxious because won't people sign their pledge cards and turn them in."† This two-part article deals with the phenomenon and how to handle it. Click here for "part one, "Resistance to pledging." Click here for part two, "How to Respond.  From the United Methodist Church's Center for Christian Stewardship.

First Steps to Personal Budget Plans. When churches help their members to get their finances in order, their members can better contribute to the church. How we handle our money bears witness to our Christian maturity and commitment. Studies show that eighty percent of a church's budget is contributed by only twenty percent of its membership. Other studies show that differences over money constitute one of the greatest stresses in a marriage. Click here for "First Steps to Personal Budget Plans," from United Methodist Church's Center for Christian Stewardship.

'School for Stewardship' Manual. "Converted Lives, Transforming Congregations" was the topic of a stewardship seminar held by Province I of the Episcopal Church. The good news for all of us who did not attend is that the Episcopal Church is making the resource materials available online for PDF download. Papers range from such topics as "year Round Stewardship" to "Gospel-based Discipleship."  Click here for an index of these resources. From the Episcopal Church Stewardship Page.

Will Our Children Be Stewards? "If we are not careful, we will soon have a generation of gospel consumers who have not been formed to contribute something of their own substance to the proclamation of that gospel to the world," proclaims a compelling resource about teaching stewardship to children. The author goes on to suggest ways congregations can do just that.  Click here for a "Will Our Children Be Stewards," from The Episcopal Church - Stewardship.

Eight ways congregations raise pledges. If you're looking for a way to increase giving at your church (and what leader is not?), here's an article for you! This piece looks at the strengths of eight pledge-raising approaches in order to help churches find the one that best fits their own situation. Good reading for the stewardship novice and seasoned hand alike. Click here for "Eight ways." From the Alban Institute's Congregational Resource Center.

Stewardship: A handbook. Here's a resource available for free PDF download a sort of "stewardship 101" guide for congregational leaders. It covers a variety of topics, from Scripture references to programs to nurturing stewardship. It's prepared by the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and the principles apply just as well this side of the Atlantic. Click here for "Stewardship: A handbook," from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship.

Step by Step: Fostering Financial Stewardship in Your Congregation.
From the ELCA, here's a wonderful 48-page booklet that outlines 17 steps for solid stewardship and helps ground pastors and lay people in the theology of stewardship. Best of all, it's free via PDF download. Click here for "Step by Step."

Stewardship with a smile. Here's a delightful Powerpoint presentation guaranteed to make the folks in your church chuckle while they consider how well they are doing in stewardship, not only of their money but of all the gifts God gives them. Click here for Stewardship with a smile. Another fine creation of Jerry Hoffman, webmaster of Stewardship for the 21st Century, where you will find lots of great resources. (07/11/05)

Valuing families! Ephesians 3:14. Good stewardship begins with the family, and here is a new resource for people and congregations to explore, honor and support families of all sizes and types. Includes free flyers, tips and study guides available for PDF download. Click here for Valuing Families. Prepared by the National Council of Churches USA.

How do we get our money to God? This Powerpoint presentation is ideal for Lutheran pastors struggling to explain the interrelationship between local giving and congregational, synod and churchwide budgets. It can easily be tailored to meet the needs of other denominations. Click here for How we get our money to God. Made available through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Resources for church treasurers and bookkeepers. Looking to get your church finances in order? This assortment of free resources can help! The 18 resources cover practical topics such as how to set financial goals, handling church income and petty-cash accounts. Click here for an index page to these resources. From the Office of the Treasurer, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Growth and stewardship in the small church. The dynamics of life in a small congregation present unique challenges for pastors and leaders who want to grow the budget and membership rolls. "Pastors who want to develop these areas of their ministries may find it helpful to understand what makes this size of congregation distinctive," says Perry Bell, in this article. Click here for the article. From the Congregational Resource Guide of the respected Alban Institute.

The narrative budget. Forget for the moment that most people don't understand how to read a line-item budget, the issue is how well a spreadsheet budget conveys your church's commitment to the Gospel to leaders and members alike. Most would agree it does a lousy job. An alternative may be a narrative budget, which puts the key figures into a form more friendly for churchgoers. Click here for a resource on the Narrative budget. From the United Methodist Church's Center on Christian Stewardship.

Become an 'Energy Star' Congregation. Churches can save 30 percent on their energy bills, and for most houses of worship that means a lot of money freed up for mission, maintenance -- or maybe the pastor's salary package. Energy Star, a government initiative, estimates that the nation's houses of worship collectively could reduce electricity usage by 13.5 billion kWh, prevent 5 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and in the process save $500 million.  Click here for the Energy Star page on congregations. The page offers a ton of thought-provoking and inspirational resources. Click here "Putting Energy Into Stewardship," an 39-page guide for churches.

Stewardship commitment programs that contribute to transformation and conversion. This resource from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C.,  provides an overview of five basic types of stewardship commitment programs and explores their pros and cons. Great for the congregation weighing a number of options for this year's campaign. Click here for the resource. From the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. The PDF document requires Adobe Reader. Click here for a free download of Adobe Reader.

What can your church do to help the poor?. So the social action committee of your church has been talking about helping the poor but doesn't have a clue where to start? Here's an article for you! It lists a number of practical, hands-on ministries that can make a difference in the lives of the poor in your community. Click here for the article. By Dr. Brian Fikkert, director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College (a Presbyterian school), where he is a professor of economics and community development.

Alban Institute: Focus on lay ministry. Many stewards know their church's most under-utilized resource is the membership -- folks who fill the pews but need training and inspiration to get more deeply involved. Whether your church's lay ministry development program is mostly a dream or a dream come true, here's a free, comprehensive web resource you can use. Insightful articles and helpful links. From the Congregational Resource Guide, a project of Alban Institute and Indianapolis Center for Congregations.

Ideas for stewardship in a small congregation. Does your congregation's stewardship program need a shot in the arm? Here are eight great ideas from the Center for Christian Stewardship of the  United Methodist Church. "Remember: Stewardship is more than financial giving. It is a sense of thanksgiving for all that God has given us, including care giving for the world around us! Try one of these ideas in your church soon."

Vision and the church learning pathway. From the Alban Institute, here's a free online program that helps congregations engage in in-depth self study and come up with a vision for the future that is both rooted in the congregation's experience and based on the members highest aspirations. Check out this comprehensive resource. From the Alban Institute's Congregational Resource Guide.

Rediscovering God's Mission: A Challenge for 21st Century Christians -- Here is a free study designed to help you and other members of your church to think anew about what the "mission of God" means to you. The study features two lessons. The first takes a look at the total context for mission today. The second explores the levels in which mission is carried forth. Each section concludes with a brief set of questions to consider as an individual or in a class. From Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Miracle Sunday stewardship. Here's a program outline for launching a financial campaign for a major project. Through the example and experience of a local church that wanted to pay off its mortgage to save interest and free up money for mission, you'll get ideas on how your own church can manage a successful campaign. From the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

The Hows and Whys of Money Leadership. A free, seven-part curriculum for leaders who want to plumb the depths of their congregation's financial soul. It covers attitudes about money, congregational finances, leadership, money and theology and other topics. A real gem for congregations that find themselves stuck and don't know how to get going. Developed cooperatively by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Alban Institute and Lilly Endowment, it was principally written by Mark Vincent, lead partner for Design for Ministry, a consulting firm in Wisconsin.

Question for Youth: Where Have All the Eagles Gone? Here's an exercise for youth to help them learn about the effect of human activities on the environment, and then to put that awareness into action through advocacy and education. "I developed an eco-skit based on the situation of the Bald Eagles in North America. Since many young people seem enamored by these birds of pray, there probably will be some immediate interest." By the Rev. Dr. Clifton J. Suehr, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Irwin, Pa. In the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives. (05/17/04)

 Leaf Composting on the Prairie. "Solid waste disposal facilities are at a premium. It becomes clear than that these facilities cannot afford to accept materials that can be easily composted.  But that's not the only to consider composting leaves! Composted leaves are a valuable resource. It can be used to fertilize lawns and gardens, as an excellent mulching material, and can even be utilized as part of a potting soil mix."  By the Rev. Kathleen Kinney, in the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Bluebird Nesting Boxes: A Project for Youth and Adults. "This project, which also involves building bluebird nesting boxes, is designed for a two hour youth group session for children about nine to twelve years of age. The project opens with a call to worship that gathers the children into a community to focus on their response to Godís call to become caretakers of the world." By Richard Carter and Edward Ebersole, in the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

 8-Week Program: With God's Permission. Here's a complete resource for a congregation to begin using an asset-based approach to financial stewardship. "This simple program can help your congregation fund Godís mission in a fresh and exciting manner, providing enjoyment and energy to the task of asking for and receiving commitments for financial support from your congregation members." Available for free PDF download.  From ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Faith Raising, Not Fund Raising. Saddleback Church, the folks kindling excitement in churches nationwide with the Purpose-Driven Life, reveal their stewardship secrets. "Our strategy for guiding that stewardship development infuses every level of the faith-formation process, starting with understanding the character of the God we're to become like. John 3:16 tells us "For God so loved the world. Ö he gave." God's nature is to be a giver. As disciples conform to His character, they grow in their desire to give." From Leadershipjournal.net.

Grace & Gratitude Grow Givers. "This money, this talent, this time that I have is all owned by the one who shaped and fashioned me into his child. It all belongs to the one who made me and who claimed me in holy baptism. When I have settled this ownership issue then I have settled some very basic issues about my life. I have settled the issue of life's basic direction. So I am pointed in the direction of how I can best be shaped by the potter who fashioned me." By Larry Smith, from the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Idea Booklet for Special Giving A very insightful congregation put together a sort of menu of gift ideas for families and other donors who wanted to give something to the church. It was a simple matter of matching a wish list of church needs -- everything from new lights in the parking lot to new pew cushions --  with estimated prices. Available in HTML or in RTF for easy editing for your own congregation's needs. From First Lutheran Church, ELCA, Eau Claire, Wis., and made available through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Stewardship Training. Here's a wonderful PowerPoint presentation you can adapt to educate your congregation about the stewardship this year. Pastor Sue Eidahl and the folks at Zion Lutheran Church (ELCA), Stratford, Wis., created the presentation for a past campaign and are making it available through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers. You can also access the material as a QuikTime movie.

 Follow Your Heart is the program Faith Lutheran Church, ELCA, West Fargo, N.D., devised to teach its members about giving generously. It's available in full -- handouts, instructions and all, through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Step by Step: Fostering Financial Stewardship in Your Congregation," a 48-page booklet from the ELCA Stewadship Resources outlines 17 steps for solid stewardship and helps ground pastors and lay people in the theology of stewardship. Free PDF download.

Hold a Pie 'n' Prayer Evening. A time of fellowship, focus on ministry and congregational stewardship.

A Shower of Blessings Stewardship Thrust -- "What can we do to motivate members about their response to God's blessings?" That was the question stewards from Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA, Eau Claire, Wis. Asked. The answer is this full stewardship program, part of the archives of the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Please come back!