Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Where History Invites Opportunity

www http://archive.stewardshipoflife.org
2007 Index


SOLI/Update
Free Newsletter

Links to the latest weekly resources, plus a special message. Review past newsletters in the archive. Click to Subscribe!


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 God’s mission in a fresh and exciting manner." Available for free PDF download. From ELCA Stewardship.

2005 Chronological Index of Content

For 2008, Click Here
For 2007, Click Here
For 2006, Click Here

For 2004, Click Here
For 2003, Click Here

December 26
The Tsunami: One year later.
It was a year ago this week that a mammoth tsunami swallowed thousands of villages in the Indian Ocean. The ELCA has a number of resources to help your congregation remember and stay involved in the recover. Click here for a press release. Click here for a page that provides links to resources, including bulletin inserts and an online giving source.

We are God's helpers in generosity. "I so wanted my children to think well of Santa. This whole question of being fair begs the larger question. What do I say to my children about God? When some have so much and others have so little, what do I say? Will they stop believing or simply see how unfair God is?" Click here for Pastor Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Christmas every day. "Underlying the holiday rush and the frenzy of socializing and commercializing, the arrival of Peace, Light and Word defines the reality that makes Christmas special. We remember again our existential condition: We are a people in darkness, surrounded by violence, without hope."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter.

New Year's resolutions that actually work.
"I truly believe that a new year is the best opportunity for self-examination and change. However, I have witnessed many people set health and weight loss goals in January only to have them fail and fall by the wayside weeks or a few months later. "  Click here for "New Year's Resolutions, from The Christian Post.

Top 10 Stories of 2005 What a year it was for people of faith. Check out this listing of the Top 10 Stories according to one of the nation's top Christian magazines Click here for "Top 10 Stories," from Christianity Today.

The gift beyond words: John Larsson, Salvation Army
"At the first Christmas there was no disappointment. As the day dawned, the gift arrived just as the prophets had said it would. But not only did the gift arrive. To those with the eyes of faith the gift exceeded all expectation. Not in their wildest imagination had their hearers thought that the promises would be fulfilled in the way they were." Click here for the message by Gen. John Larsson, international leader of the Salvation Army.

December 19
The one reason to withhold giving
" Rumor has it that in a local congregation people are withholding their pledges as a vote of no confidence against the pastor.  And others have been withholding their giving to synods because of political reasons. I must admit that there have been times when I considered giving less because I didn't like how a particular church spent its money." Click here for Pastor Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Fight the real 'War on Christmas'" The real War on Christmas is not whether "Merry Christmas" gets edged out of the crass commercial marketplace, those houses of material worship where people spend way too much money on stuff they really don't need. The real War on Christmas is the growing reality in the culture that the shopping and the decorations and the over-consumption is actually the major part of the celebration of Christmas."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter.

December 12
A Presence Even Greater Than Santa.
A sappy Christmas show gave the Rev. Dana Reardon the idea it might be great if we treated people so well that they suspected we were really Santa in plain clothes. "But then I realized that it  would actually be a giant step down from what people are supposed to think when we have been a part of their lives in any way." Click here for Pastor Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Put on the pounds where they count most. "It's a shame that a growing number of people are hungry even in the richest and most powerful country the world has ever known. The question is why? The reasons are complex, but many advocates point to the skyrocketing cost of housing, the jump in fuel prices and the general flatlining of wages for average working families even as net income for the wealthiest continues to rise."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Sermon: Letter from the Devil  This creative sermon takes a humorous look at a serious topic: What the devil thinks of stewardship. "If there's one thing the Devil doesn't want, it's a congregation with a strong, expanding heart." By the Rev. Ken Wyneken, pastor of King of Kings Lutheran Church, LCMS, Renton, WA. Click here for "Letter from the Devil."

December 5
Retirement and the Kingdom of God .
"I don't have to be a good steward.  And I don't have to tithe. I don't have to take care of my neighbor. So now, what should I do today?  I get bored really fast if I don't do anything."  Click here for The Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Let's Stop Responding to the Past. We don't give to the church because of what God has already given us, argues Hank Langknecht, but rather because of our expectations of God's future. "What my heart says is that my stuff is mine. I worked for it -- or my folks worked for it and I inherited it. Regardless, it is mine. Click here for "Let's Stop Responding to the Past," a new addition to the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Real gifts: Gifts that fill a need. Salvation Army is just one of thousands of extremely worthy Christian charities who have miniscule overhead and who wring every single penny of value from the dollars they receive. Their work serves the poorest of the poor in our society, helping them to heat their homes, clothe their children, feed their families, train for jobs and free themselves from the bondage of booze or drugs." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

When the Holidays Hurt: 10 ways to cope with loss "For many people, the holidays are a traditional time of happiness and festivity. However, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays are a time of mixed emotions. There can be pleasure, but there is also much pain, because the season magnifies the sense of loss." Great advice for individuals or congregational leaders whose parishioners suffer the holiday blues. Click here for "When the Holidays Hurt." From Today's Christian magazine.


November 28
Biblically based principles turn dollars into sense An irony: that we work hard to get dollars and then have to be saved from them! Lest our dollars - and the possessions they buy -should possess us, why not turn dollars into sense? A sense, that is, of personal, congregational, and churchwide mission." Good stewardship tips from a pastor. Click here for "Biblically based principles," a new addition to the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Holiday presents (and presence) that honor Christ."As Christians we are not called to separate ourselves from this world even when it gets hard to be Christian in the midst of secular materialistic values.  We are called to be in this world and yet not of this world.  I believe that we are called to continue to celebrate Christmas in a way that honors the birth of new hope for this world." Click here for The Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Alternative Gifts Catalog It's an annual ritual: Tearing your hair out looking for a gift for someone who already has everything. This year, why not donate to a worthy cause in the name of someone on your gift list? The Lutheran church has a catalog of choices -- from disaster relief to seminarian scholarships to funding new churches. Click here for the ELCA Good Gifts catalog, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

This Thanksgiving, practice giving thanks Visit just about any other country on the planet and one truth will surely jump out at you: Americans have SO MUCH to be thankful for. So how do we observe a day to give thanks for all we have? Incredibly, it's by sitting down at a big dinner and having even more than usual."Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Pass the peace of Christ this Advent "Christ willingly offers Himself to us to offer us a peace that is beyond comprehension, but nonetheless real.  It is a peace that increases with sharing rather than dissipating. It is a little like the loaves and fishes.  Broken and blessed, the peace of Christ abounds when it is shared." Click here for "Pass the peace of Christ," an inspiring essay from the archives of Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

November 21
Thanksgiving resources galore.
Since gratitude is an essential component of stewardship, this week is important. To help make Thursday more than turkey and football, our friends at the United Methodist Church have compiled an amazing assortment of resources -- liturgies, creative ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving in home and church, essays, inspiration. Just about anything you could imagine. Click here for Thanksgiving resources, from the UMC's General Board of Discipleship.

Thanks for volunteers who serve without strings "As Christians and volunteers, we often show up and announce what we are willing to do in a situation that calls for our help.  And if we are asked to volunteer we have a preconceived idea of what we are willing to do. But the Lord's work continues to be done, and done more effectively if we are willing to look for the need and plug ourselves in."  Click here for The Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

For parents! 13 creative ways to encourage gratefulness this Thanksgiving. Children need to be taught gratitude -- just like adults! Here are a baker's dozen of fun ideas for helping the people of your family to learn about gratitude this Thanksgiving. Click here for "13 Creative ways," from Christian Parenting Today magazine. (Check out other Thanksgiving resources from Christianity Today: Click here.)

Happy birthday! A website turns 3. Three years ago this month the Stewardship of Life Institute began its website as a way to inspire, challenge and equip Christians to see stewardship beyond financial support of the church; to embrace stewardship key discipline in our walk of faith, a way of seeing the world. What you think of the website and what we can do to make it better? Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Talking turkey about Thanksgiving Subtitled, "We need a gratitude adjustment," this article calls on our culture to get serious about giving thanks: "There's a problem with Thanksgiving. Celebrating an 'official' day compartmentalizes gratitude. The truth is that gratitude is the right attitude every day." Click here for "Talking turkey," from   The Lutheran magazine.

November 14
Douglas John Hall: Stewardship of the Mysteries of God
In this second talk given last month at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary, Douglas John Hall looks at the strengths of Mainline theologies against the rise of the newer biblicistic and fundamentalistic strains of Christianity that our Reformation forebears would neither recognize nor endorse. Insightful and prophetic, must reading for Mainline Protestant leaders. Click here for "Stewardship of the Mysteries of God. (PDF file requires Adobe Reader.)
Click here for Hall's address, "Steward as a Human Vocation," featured last week.

Hunger no more: Faces behind the facts. Look for this documentary at noon Sunday, Nov. 20, on the Hallmark Channel. Produced by Mennonite Media in partnership with the National Council of Churches, this film not only looks at the problem of persistent hunger, it also offers solutions! Great material for study group or workshop.  Click here for information on "Hunger no more," including how to order a copy on video or DVD or to access free study guides.

A divine mission and a necessity for survival. Addressing the classic theological question of human purpose, Douglas John Hall suggests that today's times demand a sharp, precise answer: "The chief end of a human being is to be God's faithful steward in a profoundly threatened creation." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click hereto subscribe.

Sermon! Consecrate: Set aside for God. "Contrary to popular opinion, pastors don’t enjoy preaching about money. They would rather preach about God’s love and grace and the spiritual resources that come from God that help us live from day to day. That is why I appreciate the approach of the Consecration Sunday program." By The Rev. Daniel Mangler, pastor of Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Estes Park, Colo. Click here for "Consecrate."

November 7
Douglas John Hall: Stewardship as a Human Vocation. With the world facing crises on many fronts, now more than ever it is time for people of faith to embrace their God-ordained vocations as stewards. From Douglas John Hall, one of North America's most prophetic theologian, an essay given as a lecture last month at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary. Click here for "Stewardship as a Human Vocation. (PDF file requires Adobe Reader.)

God's earth is sacred "We have listened to a false gospel that we continue to live out in our daily habits -- a gospel that proclaims that God cares for the salvation of humans only and that our human calling is to exploit Earth for our own ends alone. This false gospel still finds its proud preachers and continues to capture its adherents among emboldened political leaders and policy makers." So says an open letter from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States. Click here for "God's earth is sacred.

The inspired colors of God's Kingdom.  "The Beatitudes are like a coloring book designed by Jesus.  He draws us a picture of what God's Kingdom looks like -- where those who mourn will rejoice and those who are meek will find a place and the poor will have enough.  And then we get to color this picture and make it come alive with the inspiration of the Spirit." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Good Stewardship Begins with the Pastor. "Like any top executive in a successful corporation, the pastor must be willing to put forth time and effort far beyond what he or she expects of his or her people. The pastor sets the standard and the tone. If a pastor is not willing to make some sacrifices, he or she should find another less demanding profession. It’s that simple." By Robert Zimmer. Click here for "Good Stewardship." From the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Two principles for faithful stewarding. "Exactly what does it mean to be the steward of what God has given us personally and collectively? And just what is required? Theological debates on stewardship pivot on these  questions, and two key principles can guide us: accountability and responsibility. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter.

October 31
A full life in God's Technicolor.
"The concept of eternal life is not just a linear thing in that it never ends.  It is also a qualitative thing.  God gives us life in living color.  There is depth to the pain and the joy.  There is a richness to the textures and the sounds and the smells." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Being in harmony with nature. This message from the Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA reflects on the nature of God's Trinitarian life in relationship to the wonder of creation. Click here for "Being in harmony with nature," from the Episcopal Church's Environmental Stewardship page.

Can your church afford to ignore energy costs? " How much did your congregation pay for heating last winter? Now add 50 percent and you'll get a rough idea of how much it will likely cost this year, according to energy experts. Where will the extra money come from? What programs or ministries might you trim to pay for heat?" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Digging Deeper: Money and Your Heart.  Why is it harder for a rich person to go to heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? This piece from Moody Magazine offers some valuable insights. "Money can make it hard for an independently minded person to admit his need and dependently trust Christ for eternal salvation." Click here for "Digging Deeper," from the archives of Moody Magazine. This week's Treasure Chest offering.

When you're looking for God's provision. The "Purpose-Driven Pastor" Rick Warren says God will meet all our needs, but not all our greeds. "As a parent, do you give your kids everything they want? I hope you don't. You don't do that because you love them. And your heavenly Father loves you. He's not going to give you everything you want because if he did, you'd be spoiled to death." Interesting reading. Click here for "God's provision," from Pastors.com.

October 24
Just in time for heating season! Become an ' Energy Star' congregation. Experts say heating costs this winter will skyrocket -- an additional 48 percent for users of natural gas! So, pastor, how will your congregation absorb an increase like that? What programs and ministries might you cut? The good news is you can save some of those precious dollars by outfitting your church to conserve energy. Energy Star is a government program to help people and institutions cut down on energy use.  Click here to learn about Energy Star congregations. Look for the free guide to energy efficiency. Click here for Energy Star's free 86-page guide for congregations, "Putting Energy into Stewardship.
Here is another resource on congregational energy saving: New church is Earth-friendly, East Valley Tribune, Ariz.

God wants us to care - and share! If we worry so much about taking care of our own needs we will never have enough to take care of our neighbor.  We should never be so worried about out own welfare that we don't have enough to take care of our neighbors." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Stewardship of public resources. "Mainstream church leaders around the country are urging Congress to find other ways to pay for the Gulf Coast rebuilding besides cutting Food Stamps, health care and other important safety net programs that help working families, retirees and disabled citizens get by." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

October 17
Tony Campolo: Prophetic talk about hurricanes.
"Since the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, we’ve seen a wide array of religious pundits of all faiths making absurd pronouncements about the cause of these catastrophes. ... When I hear such things, I am convinced that religious leaders who make such statements do more to drive people away from God than do all the arguments and attacks of atheists." Click here for this essay by Tony Campolo, one of the world's leading preachers. Check out more writings or his talks at www.tonycampolo.org.

Environmental wager. Why Evangelicals are -- but shouldn't be -- cool to global warming," this essay by CT columnist Andy Crouch speaks plain sense about a complex topic. "The theory is taken for granted by nearly every scientist working in the field. But because it is difficult to confirm experimentally, a few vocal skeptics continue to raise pointed questions. The skeptics find a ready audience among evangelical Christians." Click here for "Environmental wager," from Christianity Today.

Stewardship of your life - now more than ever. "I'm no fan of the 'end-times' craze, which seems more hype and fear-mongering than Gospel and trust-in-God, but I have to admit the disasters sure have been piling up like cars in a rush-hour collision. Are we living in the end times? Maybe. But that's never the big question for a Christian. The big question we each must ask is, "If Christ came tomorrow, would I be ready?" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Plan for unplanned relief contributions. "Is there no end to the things to which I am asked to respond?  Is there no end to the needs of this world? If I don't budget for things they do seem much more relentless and never-ending." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

October 10
Best stewardship practices of congregations.
Wouldn't you love to know what makes congregations successful at stewardship? If so, this resource is for you. The ELCA surveyed experts from around the country and distilled their wisdom into a concise guide.  Click here for "Best stewardship." From The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (PDF download requires Adobe Reader. Click here for free download of Adobe Reader.)

Signs of faith in red ink. "I see a deficit budget as a sign of faith.  It means that the church is stretching itself to do what it feels called by God to do and it knows that God will be with them and help them to grow in numbers and grow in their generosity in response to all that God has given them." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

What would Jesus do about poverty? Whatever your understanding of  why people are poor, the fact is that millions of desperate, impoverished people live in our backyard. The more important question for people of faith is what should be our response to people in need? What does our God command us? This is where Love for the Poor can help. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

The ecological disconnect (or) what keeps us from responding. You hear the lament from many pastors and congregational leaders, "We can't get people interested in environmental stewardship!" This article explores some of the main reasons why, as well as suggestions for overcoming them. Click here for "The ecological disconnect," published in a newsletter of the Church of the Brethren.

October 3
Free booklet: 'Love for the Poor'.
Here is a great resource for personal devotion, sermon preparation or education -- a booklet looking at the biblical and theological understandings of poverty and how it informs our response to it. The book is ecumenical in outlook and prophetic in its vision. Click here for "Love for the Poor." From The National Council of Churches USA. (PDF download requires Adobe Reader. Click here for free download of Adobe Reader.)
Who benefits most when we give generously? "I believe Jesus is calling my congregation - and all of us - to tithe and more.  I believe Jesus is calling us them lives of incredible generosity.  And Jesus is calling them to it for the same reason I am: For their sake.  There is incredible joy in a life of generosity." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Re-teaching 6 principles of Christian giving. This article provides good, practical inspiration for any stewardship purpose -- personal devotion, your latest stewardship sermon, a workshop on giving or a letter to go out with the latest budget appeal. Click here for "Re-teaching 6 principles," from ChurchCentral.com.

Count your everyday blessings The coffee has just finished brewing, and the aroma stirs me from my computer desk. Slinking back to work with a hot cup of coffee and a crisp new apple I realize how good I have it simply to be safe, well-fed, dry, and at home in my modest house -- one half of a cramped 80-year-old duplex with peeling paint."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation. This resource is a must-read for Christians or congregations not convinced it's part of our stewardship duties to care for the environment. The declaration lays the biblical and theological foundation for environmental stewardship, as well as a call to action. Click here for "Evangelical Declaration," produced by the Evangelical Environmental Network.

Sermon: The Kingdom's cost/benefit ratio. " What happens when we take the world's common tool for evaluating worth and apply it to things of faith? Well, it gets interesting, as you can read in this sermon. Click here for "The Kingdom's cost/benefit ratio" By the Rev. Daniel Mangler, pastor of Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Estes Park, CO.
 
Sept. 26
Ideas for preaching on stewardship.
Most pastors face it every year: What to do about a stewardship sermon? It has to be Biblical, thoughtful and motivating. Here are some suggestions -- texts and thoughts for two series of sermons on stewardship. Of course, any one of the sermons would stand on its own. Click here for "Ideas." From Lifeway Ministries.

The antidote for 'compassion fatigue'. "Sometimes we see problems that are too big for our resources, and we know we cannot manage. But for those of us who are Christian there is always another way to look at it. Our call is not to fix everything. Our call is not to make things right. Our call is to care and to share and to be the hands of Christ in the world." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Three faces of greed. "Sin typically cloaks itself in some story or rationalization that mitigates or hides our wrongdoing from ourselves," says author W. Jay Wood, in this brilliant essay. So it is with greed -- arguably America's most insidious weakness. "How we camouflage greed depends on the particular species of greed to which we're tempted." Read this essay for insights, including "when good stewardship is bad." Click here for Three faces of greed, from Christianity Today .

Sept. 19
Online book: Tithing is Christian.
Call this a two-fer: It's an exploration of stewardship in the Bible and a guide to implementing a "Tithing is Christian" stewardship campaign in your congregation, including suggested leadership structure, timetable and materials. Written by Elmer Towns of Liberty University, it's from a Baptist perspective and readily adaptable.   Click here for "Tithing is Christian." (PDF document requires Adobe Reader. Click here for a free download.)
F.A.Q.: Wealth, giving and tithing.  The questions from the congregation arise right after your stewardship sermon: "Is being rich a sin?" "Does God favor the poor?" "What does it mean, God owns everything?" Fortunately, the folks at Generous Giving have answered a these and compiled them in an exhaustive "Frequently Asked Questions" file. You might have to adapt them a little to fit your own denomination's theology, but they are thoughtful and interesting. Click here for "F.A.Q."

A little child shall lead them. "The young girl was there to ask if she could organize fund-raisers for Katrina victims.  She wanted to have a bake sale and a car wash and she was full of excitement and ideas." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

The root of real contentment. "Culture shock was waiting for me when I got off the plane in Atlanta after nine days in El Salvador. Not just the glitzy airport that doubled as posh shopping mall, and not just the ubiquitous advertisements for the high-income traveling public, but mostly the general demeanor of the people at home: Nobody seemed happy."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Sept. 12
Tools for a healthy congregation
. Here is a great website devoted to helping congregations improve in three areas -- becoming more faithful, welcoming and generous. Check out the interactive diagnostic questionnaire on each of those sections. It includes suggested resources and links to help in areas of growth.  Click here for "Tools for a healthy congregation." From the ELCA.

The collection for the saints of New Orleans. "Whatever our political persuasion, we are all doing  whatever we can to help.  I can argue all I want about what the government should be doing, but if I have money in the bank that my brother or sister in need can be cared for with, then it rightly belongs to them." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Getting rid of all the 'crap' . "Crap. Not just the kids’ stuff – the nonstop accumulation of toys and stuffed animals that overflow from toy bins, under beds and closets. The adult stuff – like the kitchen gadgets that clutter the counter, the cleaning stuff overflowing from under the kitchen sink, the tools in the garage, the yard stuff all over the lawn, the deck furniture, the CDs and electronic do-dads, and on and on."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

The Hows and Whys of Money Leadership. Wow! Here's 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. It was developed cooperatively by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Alban Institute and Lilly Endowment.   Click here for "The Hows and Whys of Money Leadership." This week's Treasure Chest offering.

Sept. 5
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.

Love for God and neighbor are interconnected.  "Last Sunday before church someone asked me to add something to the prayers of the people.  She asked me to pray for the people of New Orleans and all of the areas affected by the coming hurricane.  I really appreciated the reminder.  I was not aware that Katrina had been upgraded and was looking so dangerous." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Sermon: Living by faith." The greatest challenge to sacrificial giving is that it is totally alien to our western culture in which we live, where there is such an emphasis on materialism and the outward signs of success." So says this challenging and inspiring sermon given by a British pastor whose observations apply to Americans as well. Click here for "Living by faith," from The Church of England's Stewardship Resources.

Poor, dumb critters "As a species, we persist in lifestyles that are making us stressed, fat and sick. We continue to smoke and drink. We glorify empty sex lives that are anti-family, anti-marriage and spread dangerous diseases. We use violence as the primary way to resolve conflict. Through overconsumption, we continue to waste resources and energy."  Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Leading the way. Here's a story about a church in Oregon that spent $92,000 to install solar panels that can provide for up to a third of the congregation's energy consumption. The campaign to raise money for the project was entitled "Rays ‘N the Roof." Very clever. Great reading for a congregation serious about saving energy. Click here for "Leading the way." From the Corvallis (Ore.) Gazette-Times.

Stewardship, faith and life. "Although we profess a wider understanding of stewardship, we have allowed it to be primarily focused on the giving of money. Even when we add time and talent to our discussion, the message we hear is related to money. We need to focus on the 'need of the giver to give' versus the 'need of the institution to receive.'"   Click here for "Stewardship , faith and life," by Duane Englehardt. Part of the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Aug. 29
Raising our children as good stewards.
"If children grow up knowing that they are loved so unconditionally by God that He would die for them and that this love extends to all people, then we might give them some of the skills for how to respond to that love. But we need to fear competition from others who may teach the skills better. Our young people will learn from us best by how we live out that love." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Not guilt. Not shame. Gratitude!   "Are you rich? When you ponder that question, you probably do what I do -- think of friends and family who are better off and say, 'Who, me? I'm not rich!' But when you look from the other end of the telescope, at those who have less, a different picture emerges. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Aug. 22
How rich are you?
Having trouble keeping up with the Joneses? The Global Rich List may be able to provide you with some comfort. On this site, you can tell how you keep up with the Joneses worldwide. Just key in your annual earnings (make sure it's expressed in dollars) and viola! Use it as a congregational conversation starter! Click here for Global Rich List.

Holy Spirit drives a program forward."Homeless people and those receiving welfare can get all the job training and all the help with dealing with issues of addiction -- or whatever contributed to their situation -- but getting and keeping a job in our society without a car is becoming harder and harder.  Bus routes dwindle because most of us have access to transportation." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Sharing God's Planet Wow! Here's a free resource you -- and your congrergation -- can really sink your teeth into! It's a 72-page PDF report outlining the challenges facing the our world's environment today, how our Christian faith calls us to think about these challenges and how we can meet them. Meticulously researched and well written.  Click here for "Sharing God's Planet," from The Church of England. Episcopal Life. (PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Fresh, tasty and good for you. "Fresh vegetables \ and fruit have lots of nutrients, low fat and not too many calories. That's a welcome change for our culture, where collectively we have an awful diet that makes us heavy and unhealthy. Americans are officially the fattest people on the planet, with 65 percent of our adults overweight, and 30 percent so overweight they are obese. Experts point to lots of reasons, but the basic one is this: We eat too much." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

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. Click here for "A shower of blessings," part of the archives of the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Aug. 15
Not pushed, but empowered by love.
"But at its heart, stewardship does not flow out of oughts or shoulds, or even the best of advice. It flows out of the outpoured love of God. It flows in grateful response to the incredible gifts that we have given." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Stewardship Bible study This Bible study is designed for use on Stewardship Sunday, but of course you can use it anytime you deem appropriate. The study examines II Cor. 8 and 9, when the Apostle Paul is giving advice on giving and generosity. Click here for "Stewardship Bible study," from Pastor Edward Marquart's Sermons from Seattle.

Searching for the real IT Spiritual emptiness. It's the human race's number one problem. But in the United States spiritual emptiness takes on an ironic expression because as a nation we are wealthy enough and educated enough to have multiple options for almost everything - and we often choose the one that will give us spiritual emptiness." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Greening the church. Churches are waking up to the realities of environmental stewardship -- and taking their responsibilities seriously. That is part of the message you'll read in this article in Episcopal Life magazine, which details the growing trend in that denomination. Click here for "Greening the church, from Episcopal Life.

Zacchaeus: Patron saint of stewards. "Zacchaeus did not promise to read scripture more faithfully nor to attend the synagogue more regularly. On this occasion he was not pledging his time or his talent to the programmatic mission of the faith community. Worthy as those are -- and necessary for the life of the people of God -- this visit was about something else. This commitment was to re-order his financial priorities and his stewardship of material things." Click here for "Zacchaeus."  It is part of the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Aug. 8
17 Steps.
Here is a good guide for church stewardship leaders and pastors alike. It's a handy list that covers the basics of stewardship.   Click here for "17 Steps." Adapted from the larger book "Step by step: Fostering financial stewardship in your congregation," which is available for free in PDF format. Click here for "Step by step." Part of ELCA Stewardship Resources.

When you're looking for God's financial provision. By RICK WARREN: "God is staking his character and his reputation on it. 'I will meet your needs.'  ... Why is it that you have financial needs? Why do so many believers struggle in this area? We all know people who are believers who have financial needs. Did God fail?  Did he lie? Exaggerate?" Click here for "When you're looking for God's financial provision," from Pastors.com.

Stewardship of the Gospel. If the Gospel is the food that provides spiritual nourishment, then churches are like restaurants where people come for refreshment. Those of us in Mainline churches can ask ourselves why our patrons are leaving even though Americans are dying of spiritual starvation and finding all sorts of ways to satisfy their hunger." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Climate change and the unraveling of creation. By BILL McKIBBEN: "We are engaged in the swift and systematic decreation of the planet we were born onto. And does God look at our actions and pronounce them good? I doubt it. Forget the sterile debates about whether we were given dominion over his planet. Grant that we were. The question is, what have we done with that dominion?" Click here for "Climate change," from Religion On-line.

Can stewardship be more inviting? "All stewardship talk which begins with money starts at the wrong place. The place to begin meaningful stewardship conversation is with the concept of freedom.  ... God’s love is freely given to us simply because we are God’s children, simply because God loves us apart from our worthiness or unworthiness. When we learn this truth and appropriate it at the center of our being, then we are truly free." Click here for "Can stewardship be more inviting?"  The essay is by Prof. William O. Avery of Gettysburg Seminary.

Aug. 1
Do no harm, but do make an impact.
As Christians, we may not talk about zero impact as we strive to be good stewards.  That is okay, because in another sense we strive for maximum impact. We want to do as much with what God has given us for the good of God's people. Click here for Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

When enough is enough: Why God's abundant life won't fit in a shopping cart, and other mysteries. It is not buying but shopping that captures the spirit of consumerism. Buying is certainly an important part of consumerism, but buying brings a temporary halt to the restlessness that typifies it. It is this restlessness—the moving on to shopping for something else no matter what one has just purchased—that sets the spiritual tone for consumerism." Click here for "When enough is enough," from Sojourners.

Not a hand-out, a hand-up "Grove Church bought a run-down three-bedroom house for $50,000, spent $15,000 on renovations, and now rents it for $650 a month to 33-year-old Samara Parker, a schoolteacher who is raising two kids by herself.  Here’s the genius of the plan: After two years, the church will rebate Parker’s total rent of $15,600 to go towards a down-payment on a home of her own. Then Grove Church will rent the house to somebody else who will build up money for a down-payment." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Green building and remodeling Building and remodeling projects usually bring with them both challenges and opportunities. The challenges are often related to finances and design issues. Among the exciting opportunities, these projects can help members to demonstrate their commitment to care for God’s creation." Click here for "Green building and remodeling." Great resource, from Earth Ministry.

Tru-envy? From America's obsession with a perfect lawn, Jon Pahl of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia makes a religious connection: "We seem somehow uncertain of our salvation, so we seek enemies to conquer and control, and we seem driven constantly to display our power for others to see. Can there be a connection between the way we treat dandelions and the way we treat our neighbors? The way we treat the poor and sick and suffering of the world?" Click here for "Tru-envy."  Reprinted, with permission, from the April 15, 2004 issue of Sightings, produced by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

July 25
Real estate boom opens possibilities.
"Many land-rich but cash-strapped churches across the nation are finding opportunities for mission and revival in the current real estate bonanza. It makes stewardship sense for some churches to sell some or part or all of their property and use the money for mission. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

July 18
Money and the spiritual life.
"Pastor, we need to help our people understand that God says there is a direct relationship between how I use my money and the quality of my spiritual life! The way we manage God's money can prevent him from doing more in our lives. " Click here for "Money and the spiritual life." Inspirational essay published by "the Purpose Driven Pastor" Rick Warren and posted on his organization's website Pastors.Com.

Stewardship: Sharing the Abundance.  Here's a wonderful congregational resource for novice stewardship leaders and veterans alike. Broad in its approach and deep in its detail, Sharing the Abundance is useful and practical. Click here for Sharing the Abundance. From the Resource Center of the Eastern North Dakota Synod.

Generous to the end of our days. "There is a generosity of spirit that I think that we have lost in our culture.  We have endless debates about end-of-life issues. It seldom seems gracious, though."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Bombings teach us to value our time and our lives. "Death comes to us all. Nobody gets out alive. But the unexpectedness and wanton destruction of the London bombings reminded us that no one knows the time or hour when our lives will end.  I purposefully borrow language from Jesus's response to questions of when he will come again." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

July 11
Renewing our relationship with the earth: What you and your church can do.
This is a free 52-page guide listing not only a Biblical and theological basis for environmental care, but also practical steps you and your congregation can take. Click here for Renewing our relationship. Great resource from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa in Canada.
Extending a real welcome to all. "It goes to welcoming the strangers to our land.  It goes to paying people enough to live on so that they can feel a welcome part of our society.  It goes to the way we drive and the way we are with every encounter of our day."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

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.

G8 Summiteers tackle stewardship. Really! "As the world's most powerful leaders gather, poverty eradication in Africa and global warming emerged as the two hot topics, both of which are essentially stewardship issues with tremendous religious implications. Especially for Christians. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Stewardship draws us to the Lord.  "A steward never stops saying 'thank you' to God for blessings received. A steward has an attitude of gratitude and essentially is a person of great peace and great joy," Father Daniel Mahon told a Catholic conference in Canada. Click here to read more of his inspiring talk. From Western Catholic Reporter, Canada's largest religious weekly.

July 4
What do we see for our stewardship?
"Look any Sunday and see what I see.  See the faces of the children in Sunday School and the upturned face of an old man who can no longer kneel when I say, "The body of Christ given for you."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Can corporations assume responsibility for the environment? In this essay, eminent process theologian John B. Cobb Jr. discusses the environmental implications of the growing power of transnational businesses. "Personally, I am not happy that the future of the Earth is now in the hands of corporations rather than governments. I believe that power should be in the hands of those who have other goals than economic gain in view as part of their primary job description." Click here for Cobb's essay. Posted on Religion Online.

No hot water: A first-world dilemma. "Pity me! The hot water heater in my house bit the dust last week. ... I need your pity because I probably won't get much from the 1.1 billion people in the world who lack safe, clean, plentiful drinking water, according to the United Nations. Or from the families of the 3 million people who die each year from preventable water-related illnesses, according to the World Bank." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

The overlooked key to success. . "e;In working with congregations over the years, there is one key factor that keeps coming back, loud and clear. If the Pastor and the lay leaders aren’t "out in front " of the stewardship efforts, there’s very little chance of growth!" Click here for this piece by Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA stewardship resources.

June 27
Faithful Finances 101.
In this weekly stewardship newsletter, Jerry Hoffman praises the recent stewardship book, Faithful finances 101: From the poverty of fear and greed to the riches of spiritual investing. The work by Gary Moore debunks the morality of the marketplace, Hoffman says. "Moore sees that one of the biggest problems facing people is our tendency to compartmentalize our lives. ...  We don’t consider how love to our neighbor applies when we purchase a stock, mutual fund or make other investment." Click here for the newsletter. From Stewardship for the 21st Century at Luther Seminary.

Welcome to 'Sinners Anonymous'. "I have long told people who feel no need to go to church that it is precisely when we are strong that we need to go to church for the sake of someone there who needs us to be there.  Maybe just a smile or a presence, or a strong, sure voice reciting the creed.  Or maybe it is to support the pastor and laugh at her pitiful jokes and help her by our presence to be strong for others."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Six months later, awash in relief. "When she heard about the Tsunami that pounded nations of the Indian Ocean on the day after Christmas, Mary Zimmerman wondered what she could do to help.  But rather than sit and wring her hands, Zimmerman got busy baking pies and selling them for $6 each at her church." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Digging Deeper: Money and Your Heart.Why is it harder for a rich person to go to heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? This piece from Moody Magazine offers some valuable insights. "Money can make it hard for an independently minded person to admit his need and dependently trust Christ for eternal salvation." Click here for Digging Deeper.

Relationships: The glue that holds your church together. Most towns boast plenty of churches where people can hear the Word of God, so what will encourage people to become a part of yours? Church-growth guru Rick Warren says churches that encourage relationships among members have an edge, and the smartest churches encourage relationships in everything they do. Click here for "Relationships." Posted on Warren's website Pastors.com.

June 20
Opening our hearts and pocketbooks.
"We always expect pastors to make sacrifices and to be willing to live frugally for the sake of the Gospel.  I am sure the pastor of my Grandfather's church did. But everyone sacrificed to make sure the church was still there."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Don't forget the Dads! Congregations should be doing everything they can to get Dads and other men deeply into the life of faith. Not only because women statistically outnumber the men in the pews, but more importantly because fathers who are active in church are much more likely to raise children to be churchgoers. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Christian Giving in God's World. This insightful essay answers some of the fundamental questions. "Is giving money to God optional? Absolutely not! Christians are commanded by God to give of their possessions to the work of God," writes Richard Bucher, pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, LCMS, Lexington, Ky. Click here for Christian Giving in God's World.

June 13
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.

Youth use the 'T' word without apology. "If we who love the Lord and want to further the work of the kingdom do not take giving of our money seriously then who will?  I think we should extend that past pastors to everyone who works on stewardship and everyone who serves on councils and everyone who is serious about giving thanks for what God has given."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

A teaching moment for your church. The good news: Never in recent times has there been so much opportunity for American churches to educate, equip and lead their members to put into action Jesus's directives of Matthew 25: Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the prisoner. The bad news: Homelessness and hunger are rising quickly. Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Jerry Schmalenberger: Stewardship of the family. For the run-up to Father's Day, a here's a timeless paper on family and marriage from a noted theologian.  "Faithfulness and lifelong fidelity must be stewarded very much like we preserve, conserve, and treasure other priceless possessions and natural resources." Click here for Stewardship of the family.

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.

June 6
It's never too late for gratitude
. "When I was ordained (at 45) I sat down and wrote to everyone who helped to get me to that point.  I am sure that I didn't remember everyone.  I didn't think that I should move forward without looking back to what and who got me there."  Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Is your church contributor friendly? "A smaller percentage of church donations comes via the collection plate. More people do their banking electronically and loathe writing checks. Others would rather give their via credit card. Still other donors would be happy to give in-kind donations, stock, real estate or bequests, but they don’t think of it or don't know how. Does your church give them guidance?" Click here for this archive column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

John Paul II: The ecological conversion. "In our time, man has unhesitatingly devastated wooded plains and valleys, polluted the waters, deformed the earth’s habitat, made the air unbreathable, upset the hydrogeological and atmospheric systems, blighted green spaces, implemented uncontrolled forms of industrialization, humiliating the earth, that flower-bed that is our dwelling." Click here for this message of the late Pope John Paul II, posted by the Catholic Conservation Center.

May 30
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.

When churches face a deficit. I have seen congregations rely on one person to get them out of trouble year after year without digging deeper themselves.  So I am proposing to my congregation  that they all give a little more. If members don't have a big lump sum lying around, they can just put a little extra in each week." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Come, holy rain. "Pastors and congregational leaders who notice that giving and attendance have declined can take comfort knowing their congregation is merely in a dry place, awaiting the reviving presence of the Holy Spirit. And they can begin to expect the Holy Spirit to work among them, to show them new possibilities and insights." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

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.

May 23
Our risky, right choices.
When four young women from out-of-state show up at her church, our columnist learns a powerful message about how hard it is to live the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, "We make choices knowing that there is right and wrong in all of it in life and we just pray that God can make the best even of our bad choices." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Great stewardship link! Check out this great stewardship website from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. Stewardship for the 21st Century contains hundreds of resources, including Bible studies, sermons, essays, articles, etc. Its two stated purposes are to help free people from the "myth of scarcity to live an abundant life in Christ," and to encourage people to become "confident, courageous stewardship leaders." Wow! Click here for Stewardship for the 21st Century. Be sure to sign up for its free weekly e-newsletter.

Push pro-family economic policies. "While housing prices are cruising along with percentage hikes in the healthy double digits, salaries are nearly stagnant. When the two realities collide, families in the rental market face bleak prospects. Many are stretched way too thin, driven to substandard housing, forced to move out of the area or simply put on the streets." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Fifteen-plus environmental action ideas. Environmental stewardship can become an integral part of your congregation's life and education program. How? This resource lists practical, easy-to-implement ideas. Click here for Fifteen-plus environmental action ideas. From the Evangelical Environmental Network, whose website has lots of good stuff.

An exercise in growth. "There are a thousand ways to grow and a thousand ways to help that growth, but you won't get off square one until you sit down and understand needs to target as some initial goals." Great reading in an essay packed with practical tips for a congregation.   Click here for the piece by Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Widow's Walk ... Does Jesus idealize poverty? Stewards love Jesus' story of the "widow's mite" as the ideal illustration of sacrificial giving. Here's a fresh wrinkle: "Our culture counsels us to became like the honored scribes, but Jesus counsels us to become like the dishonored widow. We are to model our lives on one we would normally overlook, being too busy admiring the lifestyles of the rich and famous." Click here for Widow's Walk. By Mary Anderson, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, Columbia, S.C., printed in The Christian Century. This week's Treasure Chest resource.

May 16
Preparing for a major financial campaign.
This resource guide for congregations includes a number of checklists for getting ready, getting started, and so on. It also has a sample budget and tip sheets. Lots of nuts-and-bolts information on running a major financial campaign. Click here for the eight-page guide on capital campaigns. From the Stewardship Page of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (DC), which has lots of other good resources.

Forgive us our money mistakes. "We have all made foolish mistakes with money in our personal lives, and even congregations can make mistakes.  I sometimes think it is the foolish mistakes we have made personally and how guilty we have felt about them that colors even the decisions we make for our churches.  We cannot let our mistakes paralyze us." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

A scriptural call for environmental stewardship. The Bible has a lot to say about care for God's creation -- and as this insightful article points out, we human beings are doing a pretty lousy job fulfilling our duties. Its compiles Scripture passages on a wide range of environmental topics. Click here for the article, posted on the website of the Fund for Christian Ecology, which contains lots of other good stuff.

Sow the seeds of 'Holy Health'. "Pastors from a number of denominations work on the farm one day a month. They practice organic, sustainable farming and learn that producing top-quality produce and protein takes time, patience and hard work.  Applied to the stewardship of their churches, pastors learn to focus on producing healthy congregations. It’s part of a philosophy called “Holy Health.'" Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Increasing income. "The most often requested question that I have had over the years about stewardship is 'How can we increase income?' The answer to that question can take many paths, but to 'cut to the chase, there are three ways to increase income in ANY congregation:" Click here for the answer from Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

May 9
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.

God bless the volunteers. "Those of us who are running around busily trying to do more things than we really should anyway can get really resentful of giving some of our precious time to those who seem to have too much of it." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

20 Questions: How healthy are your money values? Here's a great tool congregations can use to help their members understand their financial stewardship. It's a friendly questionnaire to help families gauge how well they're balancing charitable giving, spending, saving and investing. Click here for the 20 Questions. From Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Healthier Mom, healthier family, healthier world. "If we’re generally doing OK as families, lots of other big problems take care of themselves. This is because stable, healthy families are much more likely to raise kids who do well in school, go to church, resist drugs, choose friends wisely, stay out of trouble with the law, get decent jobs, make responsible decisions about sex and go on to be good parents themselves." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

First-mile, second-mile and third-mile giving. In this essay, stewardship specialist Dr. Ed Kruse suggests a number of practical, down-to-earth ways that congregations can develop a revenue stream through second-mile giving. Click here for the essay. From the Central States Synod, ELCA.

How To Create a Mission Endowment Fund: A guide for congregations. FREE BOOKLET! Such a fund can be a vehicle to support and enhance ministries.  This vision attracts planned and future gifts as people desire to Leave a Legacy for Ministry: Gifts that Nurture the Whole Church. Click here for the resource. From the ELCA Foundation, free PDF download. While on the page, check out the other helpful resources, such as how to encourage donations, bequests and life insurance donations.

May 2
Every day is Earth Day. The fact that we make such a big deal of the environment only once a year shows what the real problem is: We are self-absorbed and fail to think of the natural environment as a part of us.  We can get away with it because most of us live most of our lives in totally unnatural environments, and that is because of our affluence." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Time after time, our most precious gift. "Those of us who are running around busily trying to do more things than we really should anyway can get really resentful of giving some of our precious time to those who seem to have too much of it." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

Stewardship training program. 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.

The gift of a lifetime.In most congregations a bequest is something that is left by a member who has left a sizable estate. But there are a few congregations who have made it a practice over the years to remind their members and friends that 'tithing their estate' regardless of the size of the gift is a special way to say thanks to God for a wonderful life." Click here for Tuck Aaker's column, one of many ELCA Stewardship Resources.

April 25
Link: Earth Ministry.
Looking for simple, down-to-earth ways to raise the environmental awareness level of your congregation? Here's a website for you. Earth Ministry is an ecumenical, mostly Mainline group out of Seattle founded in 1992, and it's website offers a good mix of the theological and the practical when it comes to environmental stewardship -- nice how-to pieces, links to articles, resources for purchase. Definitely worth a look. Click here for Earth Ministry.

Larry Rasmussen: The everlasting covenant. In this sermon, the noted author of Earth Community, Earth Ethics and other books on ecology says that by allowing environmental degradation, humans are breaking a covenant with the creator that Isaiah describes.  Rasmussen says, "The everlasting covenant Isaiah speaks of is the first one, and breaking it banishes the gladness of the earth." The author is Reinhold Neibuhr Professor of Social Ethics Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary and a lay theologian for the ELCA. Click here for Rasmussen's homily.

An evangelical declaration on the care of creation. Clear thinking, biblical theology and a progressive attitude mark this statement of the Evangelical Environmental Network. It is both a description of the current state of the environment globally and a call to action. Inspiring statement, signed by scores of notables, including Tony Compolo and Ron Sider. Click here for the declaration. And while you're there, check out the other great resources on their website.

Save electricity, save money, save the planet. "First Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, Texas, saved $3,226 in electricity and used 290,000 fewer gallons of water last year by installing energy-efficient lighting and water-saving devices in its building. Saving energy will likely become more important as the cost of fossil fuel soars, but much more is at stake than energy bills." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Evangelism? We have so much to give! "Some people have that problem with things other than food.  They shop just to shop.  They watch shopping shows or even just commercials so that they can find things to want.  Things they know they don't need and wonder what to do with when they get them home." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

Down-to-Earth Theology. One of the most prophetic voices in American Christian thought, Sojourners magazine devotes its entire March 2004 issue to the environment. Every article is rich, provocative, passionate and faithful. Free access requires registration. Highlights:
Consider the Turtles of the Field - Many evangelicals find themselves in an emerging theological habitat, where care of creation is central to mission.
Rockfish, Redfish, Stockfish, Foodfish - Seven biblical principles for the care of creation.
To Serve and Preserve - The Bible calls us to dominion over creation. Or does it? 
Sins of Emission  - No politician seriously believes that Americans are willing to deal with global warming. Is it too late to prove them wrong?  By Bill McKibben.

I owe it to myself As college students descend on Florida for "spring break," ELCA stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker reflects on the growing attitude that we deserve a reward for every sacrifice, no matter how petty. He describes the "merry go round" that has ensnared many: "The more you work, the more you earn, the more you spend, the more you work. Click here for Tuck Aaker's column, one of many ELCA Stewardship Resources.

April 18
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 86-page guide for churches.

Christianity and Ecology: Wholeness, Respect, Justice, Sustainability. Here is a provocative essay from Harvard University’s Forum on Religion and Environment that frames the issue nicely: "Increasing numbers of Christian theologians and ethicists are responding to the environmental challenge as the world gets hotter, stormier, unequal, crowded, more violent, and less biodiverse. In this pivotal time, what do Christian ecotheology and ethics contribute to the struggle to secure the earth community’s well-being?" Click here for the essay. While you’re on the page, cruise through some of the other worthwhile links on religion and ecology, including course outlines.

Proclaim, celebrate God's creation. "Many of us living in such insular environments. It’s easy to forget that the Earth and all its wonder and complexity are the handiwork of our creator God who appointed us as the stewards. That’s why now, at the beginning of the third millennium, we especially need the church to remind us of these truths. This year, please consider doing something for Earth Day Sunday at your church on April 24, or for Rogation Sunday on May 1. " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Ecology and Economy.In this talk, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams explores the sometimes-tense relationship between ecology and economy: "It has been said that 'the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment.' The earth itself is what ultimately controls economic activity because it is the source of the materials upon which economic activity works." Click here for the talk.

Giving is an indicator of conviction. "Some people have that problem with things other than food.  They shop just to shop.  They watch shopping shows or even just commercials so that they can find things to want.  Things they know they don't need and wonder what to do with when they get them home." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

Journey Between Worlds: Economic Globalization and Luther's God Indwelling Creation.Our created environment and livelihood of billions face unprecedented peril from economic globalization.  As stewards of God's world, what are we to think? In her article in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda finds insights from Luther's theology. "The presence of God taking bodily form in 'our' many forms suggests a web of connectedness pregnant with implications for both moral obligation and moral-spiritual power." Click here for Moe-Lobeda's article.

April 11
Celebrate Rogation Sunday May 1... As our culture becomes more mechanized, we become more distant from the earth's seasons and cycles of life. That's why it's a good idea to bring back Rogation Sunday -- on May 1 (Fifth Sunday after Easter) -- as a celebration of seed-time. A pastor from Canada termed it "a Christian Earth Day," a traditional Sunday for honoring God's creation. Here are some resources you can use May 1 -- or any Sunday you want to remember God's handiwork:
Click here for a service from the Resource Center, Northwest Synod of Wisconsin.
Click here for a service from the Stewardship of Life Institute (that's us!).
Click here  for Rogation FAQ and resources from the ELCA.
Click here for a bundle of liturgical resources from Web of Creation.

... or Earth Day Sunday April 24. This year Earth Day celebrates 35 years, and many churches are celebrating it at worship on Sunday, April 24. The ELCA is joining the National Council of Churches in calling on congregations to mark Earth Day Sunday with services, sermons that stress "Sacred Oceans and Seas."
Click here for the National Council of Churches Earth Day resources, including educational programs, bulletin inserts, order of worship and sermon starter.
Click here for the Earth Day letter from Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA.
Click here for a bundle of liturgical resources from Web of Creation.

Simple ideas, strong witness. "For Palm Sunday worship, churches across the nation bought palm fronds to use as a tangible witness to our Savior’s life, death and resurrection 2000 years ago. But rather than calling the local florist, Zion Lutheran Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, bought frond crosses made by Tanzanian villagers. It’s a way to help poor families and fund humanitarian projects – another powerful witness of our faith." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

When God satisfies, I shall not want. "Some people have that problem with things other than food.  They shop just to shop.  They watch shopping shows or even just commercials so that they can find things to want.  Things they know they don't need and wonder what to do with when they get them home." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

Me, my stuff, and I.The young author from Campus Life gives a quiz for her peers, but consumers of every age group can learn from this introspective questionnaire. Might make a good resource for teaching stewardship to youth. Click here for the article. From CampusLife.net.

Jürgen Moltmann: Reconciliation with Nature.This fine essay by one of our era's pre-eminent Protestant theologians is just one in a classic edition of Word & World, published by Luther Seminary, St. Paul. The issue provides in-depth scholarly treatment to the environment issues, including:
The Responsibility of Royalty: Genesis 1-11 and the Care of the Earth - James Limburg
The Weeping Mask: Ecological Crisis and the View of Nature- Vitor Westhelle
Environmental Concern and Economic Justice - Peri Rasolondraibe
Ecology, Feminism and Theology - Mary Ann Hinsdale
The Church's Role in Environmental Action - Calvin DeWitt

April 4
Healthy environments, healthy churches. When it comes to environmental stewardship, some churches show by example. Click here for a profile of a Presbyterian church that boasts innovative environmental features. Click here for a description of the most popular "green building" features. Both articles from ChurchExecutive magazine.

Traveling light, following Jesus. "We are called to lives of following Jesus. That means that we have offered "ourselves, our time and our possessions."  Periodically we need to review what we have and what we need and jettison a whole lot of what weighs us down and preoccupies us and look again at what we really need for this journey of faith." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

Environmental reflections on lectionary texts. OK, pastors. Want to put more "green" into your sermons? Here's the website to bookmark! Environmental reflections on the texts of all three lectionary years. Click here for the site. Clearly those folks at the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota have been busy. (Note how they also changed the colors in the Episcopal shield.)

Remembering a martyr for justice. "Stewardship involves not only how well we use our money for God's purposes, but how we use all of our life energies and resources for God's purposes. In this, Archbishop Oscar Romero was a model steward who can inspire all of us." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

The church's call to environmental stewardship. "The biblical call to stewardship will lead us to foster quality of life. The quality of life that is measured only by material goods and economic factors is incomplete. Total quality of life must include the health and stability of the natural world, relative justice and peace for people, and the free and true worship of God Almighty. It is on this basis, on this biblical vision, that Christians are motivated to respond to ecological crises." By Gilson A.C. Waldkoenig in the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

March 28
Year-round stewardship.What are principles for year-round stewardship? How do you staff a stewardship committee? How do you build a stewardship program? These and other basic questions are answered in a handy, free, resource. Click here for Year-round stewardship. From the Episcopal Church School for Stewardship.

God pushes us beyond our own paltry goals. "God often pushes us in a direction that is different than where we would go. It is not merely because of some task God wants us to accomplish or some gift God wants us to give, but because in the doing we become.  God is working on all of us." Click here for the Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly column on stewardship.

Common Excuses for Not Preaching on Giving. Pastors know better than anyone else how crucial congregational giving is for the survival of the church. So why do we hear so few messages on the subject of Christian giving or biblical stewardship? Here are some common preacher objections and our answers to them." Click here for the article.  Good reading from Moneyandfaith.net

Life is sacred - for all the 'least among us'. “Why should our concern not stop with a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years? If everyone is a sacred creation of God, shouldn’t Christians insist that every human being be entitled to the necessities for a full life?” Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Tithing: A step in walking the way of Christ. Jesus did tell his disciples to pay their taxes to Caesar; rendering to him the coin that has his face on it, but giving to God what is God's.  I guess that raises the question: what part of your life belongs to God?  Have you given it all to God, or just part of it?  Is Jesus the ruler of your life, or someone you follow on Sunday from 10:30 to noon?" Click here for Tithing. By The Rev. Dr. Walk Jones, pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church, Pensacola, Fla.

Two important rules. When last year's hurricanes extensively damaged a Florida church, the congregation was spared from disaster because it followed two key stewardship rules. Your congregation can learn them, too!  Click here for this insightful column by Tuck Aaker, writer for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

March 21
Write a money autobiography. "Writing a money autobiography is a challenging and illuminating process that can be crucial to our ability to grow as Christian disciples and live faithfully as Christian stewards. Although Christian stewardship always involves much more than money, our relationship to money and material possessions helps to define who we are, what we value, what we believe, and how we live." Click here for this worthwhile resource from the United Methodist Church's Center for Christian Stewardship.

A day off? That's just good stewardship. "We get so busy that we think that the world cannot revolve without us.  We who consider ourselves good stewards of God's creation sometimes thing we are indispensable. When we start thinking that way then the whole stewardship thing falls apart. Click here for Dana Reardon's weekly column."

Hunger report 2005. Rural poverty is the focus for this year's annual hunger report issued by Bread for the World Institute. In its discussion of hunger both domestically and internationally, Bread concludes that government farm subsidies in developed nations harm rural residents everywhere. In-depth research, good tips for activists.. Click here for the executive summary. Click here for the press release on the report. Click here for the report.

'Among the gravest of sins'. “Martin Luther wrote: ‘If you send a person away naked when you could clothe him, you have let him freeze to death. If you see anyone suffer hunger and do not feed him, you have let him starve.’  ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson recalled Luther’s words as he joined leaders of four other denominations – Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ –to denounce the 2006 federal budget proposal and urge their members to voice opposition.” Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Lighting the first candle. "We shall never know the true meaning of being faithful stewards until we are prepared to risk the transitory for the sake of the ethereal." Click here for the article, by Robert Buhr, in the Lutheran Laity Movement archives.

Planning to grow. "If you as a leader or a leadership group decide to do nothing and let the future take care of itself it surely will!  But it probably won’t be the future that you had in mind! If you want growth you have to plan for growth." Click here for this insightful column by Tuck Aaker, writer for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

March 14
UNJUST': The proposed federal budget. The heads of five denominations - Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and the UCC -- criticize the proposed federal budget for cutting programs to the poor while maintaining tax cuts and programs that benefit the wealthier. "We urge the members of our churches, of other churches and other faiths, and all whose conscience compels them to do justice to join us in opposing this budget."  Click here to view the joint statement.
Click here for statement of ELCA Presiding Bishop Hanson (pictured above).
Click here to view the ELCA Advocacy backgrounder on the budget.

20 stewardship best practices by thriving congregations. When it comes to stewardship, what does your congregation do right? What could it begin to do? What could it do better? Here's a handy list of 20 best practices put together by the Central States Synod. Click here for the list. PDF document requires Adobe Reader (click here for a free download).

Blessings above and beyond 10 percent. This week, columnist Dana Reardon praises a man who gives 30 percent of his income to God. "Most of us are always a couple of thousand away from thinking we have enough for ourselves --  much less enough to be that generous.  How did he discover that he had enough for himself and more?" Click here for Dana Reardon's column.

Samaritan stewardship' Bible study. Here's a fresh take on the familiar story of the Good Samaritan -- a look at the stewardship implications of each of the characters involved, and they inform our own approach to giving. A creative study by the New Jersey Synod Stewardship Team.  Click here for this resource, posted on the website of the New Jersey Synod.

Minimum wage, maximum shame. This week the mostly pro-Jesus, pro-life, pro-work and pro-family Senate passed up an opportunity to do something to improve the lives of working families. It turned down efforts to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour, where it has languished for over eight years. And leaders of the House of Representatives say there will be no vote on the minimum wage this year." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard. 

Vision Fulfillment. Facing a major capital campaign? Here's one expert's step-by-step strategy for accomplishing going from vision to fulfillment. "Every successful capital campaign, whether for new construction, renovation, debt reduction, or budget enhancement, has a structure and a timeline from inception to completion. While campaign lengths vary, four years is typical, and a capital campaign firm is involved at strategic points when expertise and organization are needed most." Click here for Vision Fulfillment. From www.ChristianityToday.com.

March 7
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.

Tithing provides a flow for generosity. "Tithing is not a miracle cure.  We do not suddenly have whole hearts like God's when we learn to tithe.  But when God performs this shunt and allows a free flow from our heart then our whole being pinks up and the possibilities for new life and growth abound." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

What your retirement planner doesn't tell you. Plan to give your life away. "I don't think of retirement at all, at least not in terms of idle comfort. The alternative to retiring comfortably is not to retire uncomfortably, but to live as an offering to God and of God. I understand my life as a gift that is managed so that I can afford to give it away at any age. I believe I should organize my life as if it were something to use up, to give away, to expend." Click here for this inspiring essay. From Christianity Today.

Youth learn grown-up lessons about hunger. "The 30-Hour Famine has really taken off as a way to teach youth about hunger and our Christian obligation to help. In this way it’s a lot like the annual “Souper Bowl of Caring,” which in just a few years has also captured the hearts and imaginations of youth nationwide. But the question is, with so much awareness to be gained, why aren’t the grown-ups of the churches getting involved, too?." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Crisis or Opportunity?  Since the 1960s, mission support has declined across all denominations, including the ELCA. "If the resources continue to decline, we'll need to cut programs--programs that make a real difference in people's lives," says ELCA treasurer Christina Jackson-Skelton. "That will have to involve careful choices and conversation with synods about how needs are going to be met in light of those reductions." Click here for Crisis or Opportunity. From the March 2004 issue of The Lutheran magazine. (And check out the Study Guide written for this piece.)

Stewardship for Rookies. This time of year ELCA Stewardship Columnist Tuck Aaker gets a lot of mail from newly elected stewardship leaders with a common question: HOW DO I START! He writes, "The place to begin is by understanding that you didn’t come to this subject by accident. You were selected by someone in your leadership to "fill this slot" and the reason they called on you is because God put your name in that person’s mind." Click here for the column.

Feb. 28
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.

With tithing, you reap more than you sow. "We have a relationship with the most generous being in the universe.  We can choose to receive from God's generosity or we can choose to become more like the one from whom we receive everything. Tithing is only a start on that journey." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Five Common Tech Mistakes Nonprofits Make. – And How to Avoid Them. Does your congregation make the most of its website possibilities for outreach, evangelism and fund-raising? You're not alone. Experts list five common pitfalls. Click here for the article. From onPhilanthropy.com.

Counting our blessings in 'zombieland'. "Without awareness, its hard to be grateful, and without gratitude it's hard for us to develop other important stewardship attitudes, such as thrift, generosity or justice. Without awareness, we are just zombies living in a complete world of zombies." Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Stewardship Practice: A Spiritual Discipline in Response to Grace. "The practice of stewardship begins with hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is the power of the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament that changes our hearts and wills so that we become the generous children of God." Click here for the article. This and other insights from Gary Hedding, Assistant to the Bishop, Northwest Synod of Wisconsin and made available through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Feb. 21
Treasure chest of stewardship materials. OK, the web page lives up to its name -- a soup-to-nuts assortment of congregational stewardship materials, including bulletin inserts and sermon suggestions for all three lectionary years! Bible studies, material for children of different ages -- you name it. Click here for the Treasure chest of stewardship materials. From The Episcopal Network for Stewardship.

In the faces of the hungry, the face of Christ. "We do what we do even if the job is not doable.  We do it because we are the hands of Christ.  We do it because we are not working alone, but with the power of God who desires that all of his children have a share in the abundance that God gives us." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Listen, God is Calling: Growing into Christ. This Bible study of texts from Ephesians and Matthew covers God's plan for the world and us, and how we can use our God-given talents and abilities to help fulfill it. Click Here for ''Listen God is Calling." Just one of many fine resources available at the stewardship page of Women of the ELCA. PDF file requires Adobe Reader -  click here for free download.

The best valentine. "In John 13:34, Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment: 'Love one another.'This week, stores displayed the usual gaudy assortment of silk red roses, huge heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, racks of red cards, heart-embroidered boxer shorts and slinky lingerie – all in celebration of love.I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind."  Click here for the column of SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Peter F. Drucker: Secrets for managing your time wisely. From the business management expert comes an essay for church leaders dealing with one of the most pressing issues -- TIME! Drucker gives practical advice and asks five crucial questions. Click here for Drucker's article. From Building Church Leaders.

Stewardship Bottleneck ."It is hard to believe that the root cause for poor stewardship is a simple little two letter word. It is a word that we learn early in life, long before we learn that we have and are responsible for all of the gifts God has entrusted into our care. Babies often use this word by the time they are barely one year old. From that point on, it guides most of us for our entire life. What is this evil and malicious word? It is the simple word 'my,' that is, belonging to me." Click here for this archive essay by Robert Drange.

Feb. 14
So you're the new stewardship chair! The stewardship resource pages of the Episcopal Church, USA, offer a great collection of basic "how-to" articles for congregations. Wonderful for new stewardship leaders, but veterans also can find many useful tips and reminders. Articles include, "Financial commitment programs that work," "Characteristics of an excellent stewardship program," and "Getting started." Click here to go to the menu page.

Consume locally, think globally. "As Christians we know that we are not alone in this world and that what we have been given is not only for our use but rather for the whole people of God.  As we grow in awareness of how our choices impact others, we will begin to make wiser choices." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Celebrating God's love. "When we think of Valentine's Day, we usually think of romantic love. However, it is an appropriate time to think also about God's love through Jesus Christ. The love that Jesus commanded us to show one another extends beyond 'warm fuzzies' and affection." Good reading from Janet Zimmerman, columnist for Center for Christian Stewardship., United Methodist church. Click herefor Zimmerman's essay.

Crucified by the flesh’s passions. "In defiance of St. Paul’s moral advice, our Christian nation has collectively gone beyond merely ignoring widespread slavery to fleshly passions and desires, and has actually turned fulfillment of desire into a good and an entitlement. All around us, advertisements scream the message: If you want it, you have a right to it."  Click here for the column of SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

The other giving. Time, talents and treasures comprise the list of gifts that good stewards give back to God, but many churches need to do a better job of teaching their members to contribute time and talents. Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources offers solid advice for congregational leaders. Click here to read Aaker's column.

A Steward's Take on the Apostle's Creed. In this classic paper by the noted late teacher and thinker, the Rev. Richard Peterman sees the Creed as a key to understanding stewardship as a faith discipline. "Stewardship is not a matter of 10 percent of my money, rather it's 100 percent of me." Click here for Peterman's essay.

Feb. 7
GIVE: Living faith in daily life. Here's four-session small-group Bible study exploring generosity and giving in our culture. Sessions are entitled, "Giving Starts with Receiving," "Not Counting the cost," "The great struggle between greed and generosity," and "The spiritual power of generosity." Meaty, in-depth and challenging! From the ELCA and posted on the stewardship page of the New Jersey Synod. Click Herefor the Bible study. (PDF file - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Acts of generosity, tests of faith. "It occurs to me that what we are doing in all parts of the ministry is faith formation.  Some days we are the face of Christ for people who have no reason other than faith to hope that any help will come.  When we at this little way station on the way to the cross offer heat or food, we offer more.  We offer hope and a renewal of faith." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Stonewashed worship. "Authenticity is the watchword of a generation that is suspicious of squeaky-clean, franchise Christianity. … But our longing for 'authenticity' also bears a suspicious resemblance to the latest plot twist in the story of consumer culture: the tendency to rapidly replace the squeaky-clean franchise with the 'authentic' franchise." Good insights from Christianity Today columnist Andy Crouch. Click here for Stonewashed worship.

The power of a great idea. "Last year, 12,761 congregations of many denominations participated in Souper Bowl of Caring, raising a total of $4,260,531 for charity. It’s doing a whole lot of good. And to think, Souper Bowl grew organically, as a grassroots effort. All from a great idea by a creative seminary intern at an ordinary Mainline church." Click here for the column of SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Christian Service Workshop. From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, a creative and thoughtful service to get your members thinking and acting. With handouts and other resources. Click here for the Christian Service Workshop.

Jan. 31
40 Days of Generosity: Free online Lenten devotions. Here is a wonderful resource  for disciples and congregations alike -- daily Lenten devotions exploring generosity. Online resources also provide prayers, activities and more. Click here to go to the index for 40 Days of Generosity. One of many "Tools for a Healthy Congregation" from the ELCA Division for Congregational Ministries.

No snow-makeup days for stewardship It occurs to me that what we are doing in all parts of the ministry is faith formation.  Some days we are the face of Christ for people who have no reason other than faith to hope that any help will come.  When we at this little way station on the way to the cross offer heat or food, we offer more.  We offer hope and a renewal of faith.. Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.

Why give to the ungrateful? "Those of us who are active in church ministry can learn something else from the model Jesus provides. When we give of ourselves, what do we expect in return? When we offer cups of cold water in Christ's name, what response do we foresee? Quenched recipients smiling shyly at us, their eyes shining with gratitude?" Click here for this insightful essay written by Susan Werkema and published in BuildingChurchLeaders.com.

Poverty is a moral issue "The British press took note when 600 women pastors from across the United Kingdom marched to Tony Blair’s official residence to urge the prime minister to support the Make Poverty History campaign. But the march was just one way that followers of Christ have pushed Make Poverty History into the British media and raised poverty and economics as top moral issues for Christians. It’s the kind of effort and focus that American Christians can learn from." Click here for the column of SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Dying church replants; growing church rebrands When nothing else works to help a church turnaround, it may be time for church leaders to pull out the stops and "replant" itself or "rebrand." Click here to read an article detailing the stories of two churches that did just that -- and found new mission, new members and new life. From Churchcentral.com

A lifetime guarantee At a meeting with a stewardship team recently, one of the team members asked me how much I could guarantee that they would achieve in their stewardship appeal. … One thing I could guarantee I told them, was that they would increase the awareness and understanding of the members of what stewardship was all about. Click here for Inspiration and advice from Tuck Aacker, columnist for the ELCA Stewardship Resources. Stewardship, Faith and Life  "Although we profess a wider understanding of stewardship, we have allowed it to be primarily focused on the given of money. Even when we add time and talent to our discussion, the message we hear is related to money. We need to focus on the 'need of the giver to give' versus the 'need of the institution to receive.'  " Click here to read the essay by the Rev. Duane Englehardt. Part of the Lutheran Laity Movement archives.

Jan. 24
Souper bowl resources Last year churches and other groups raised more than $4 million to feed the poor on Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday. In just a few short years this remarkable grassroots ministry has grown to a yearly staple of fundraising and consciousness raising on behalf of the needy. At the site above, you'll find resources to make Souper Bowl a success at your church. From ELCA World Hunger.

Going on offense. Congregations who are only on [financial] defense, who are just trying to 'get by' will have pre-determined their future. They will eventually fail. For if you aren’t growing, you are declining and the future is inevitable. This is exactly where many of our congregations in trouble are today." Inspiration and advice from Tuck Aacker, columnist for the ELCA Stewardship Resources.  

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.

King's witness of leadership "King saw poverty and lack of economic opportunity as a force that robbed people of hope and kept them oppressed. Today's Christian stewards can learn much from that vision. I'll give King the last word (from his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail): 'We must come to see that human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God.' "  From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Stewardship and vocation This essay explores the connections between these two concepts. "I have managed to say in one breath two words that you usually only hear in church. What’s more, they are words you usually don’t want to hear at all! Stewardship and vocation have the bad reputation of simply being ‘spiritual’ ways of talking about your money and your job." Good reading from The Rev. Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, professor at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary.

Jan. 17
Eight great stewardship ideas. 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."

Running on empty -- and a prayer! "God likes it when we are running on empty because we are constantly in touch with God, praying that we will make it to the gas station. And I am still sure that there is some truth to it.  When we become too comfortable we can forget we need God."  From Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

Money: Vanishing Act. "We should have money. So where does it go? And what can we do about it?" This is the howl you hear from household billpayers around the nation every nation. In this article, one man describes the dilemma and how he got a handle on the situation. From Marriage Partnership magazine.

Stewardship 101: How the other 9/10ths live. "Living in America – where it seems everybody has a car, everybody has a telephone, everybody has a TV, and where the fastest-growing health crisis is an epidemic of Type II Diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses – it’s easy to think the rest of the world lives like we do. In fact, as the Indian Ocean tsunami points out, most do not."  From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Beyond the offering plate. Learn about "enough is enough," a campaign growing among Presbyterians that emphasizes proper use of wealth and a global perspective. "The choices we make every day affect our sisters and brothers around the world who are impoverished. Faithful stewardship means looking at how our purchases, our investments and our use of resources affect the people around us." From Presbyterians Today, the publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Why Tithe? Here is a sermon exploring attitudes on giving and pledging. "For many people, tithing falls into the same category as bungee-jumping and sky-diving," writes The Rev. William F. Martens, pastor at Richland Lutheran Church, Richland, WA.

Jan. 10
Designing effective church buildings. Here's a free, on-line video resource that covers the four main points for planning a church building -- visibility, accessibility, buildability and expandability. A solid, basic resource giving commonsense information for churches. From the ELCA Mission Investment Fund. (Click on the video link in the right hand-column of the MIF home page.)

What's the real goal? "We get so 'caught up' in raising the funds that we forget why these people are going to make the gift. It’s not about US getting the donation the money. It’s all about the person giving the money and why THEY are giving it and how that will make THEM feel!" Inspiration and advice from Tuck Aacker, columnist for the ELCA Stewardship Resources.

The Fraudbuster They prey on the faithful, using religious ideas, language and affiliation to gain trust of investors. Some are brazen enough to give their pitches during coffee hour. This article tells how thieves scam the faithful -- and what leaders can do to protect them. From ChristianityToday.com

Tsunami unites the world for good "Let us hope that whereas September 11 marked a turn towards violence, hatred mistrust, xenophobia and self-interest, December 26 will mark a turn towards world understanding, cooperation, compassion, selflessness and – I’ll say it plain – love. Early indications look promising." From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Service the best way to say 'thanks'. "It occurs to me that Lutherans may be a pretty staid bunch, but we say thank you Jesus every day. The largest non-governmental social service agency in the United States is LSS, Lutheran Social Services.  We say thank you Jesus by the way we live our lives and by the way we care for others."  From Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

Stewardship as a lifestyle
Here is a Bible study/workshop that explains stewardship in practical, discipleship terms.  "Stewardship is like a magnet passing over the jumbled pins and needles of our life, organizing them into a meaningful pattern. Written by former ELCA Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson.

Jan. 3
The 2004 Generosity Index. Who gives the most based on income? Well, it's the widows with their mites, according to the The Catalogue for Philanthropy's annual Generosity Index, which looks at IRS tax return statistics listing income and itemized deductions. Last in income, Mississippi is first in percentage giving. First in income, Connecticut is 47th.  Eye-opening reading from the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

Tsunami brings God's family together. "When the need gets very great sometimes we need to reach a little deeper into our pockets and maybe rethink how much we can afford.  I know that if my family were involved I would send every penny.  So how much do I send because it is someone's family?  How much do we send because we are the family of God?"  From Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.

Five million people homeless in Asia. "Already one of the worst natural disasters in modern history, the situation is worsening for those whose lives were spared, with torrential rains hampering relief efforts, and safe drinking watpennylaneer and sanitation at a premium." A good roundup from the National Council of Churches USA.
Other links:
ELCA sends $150,000 to help initial relief efforts
LWR 'Wave of Giving' campaign gathers momentum
Resources from Church World Service

Stewardship Nuggets: New Year, New You! "2005! The start of a new year is a good time for each of us to review our lives and to determine some area of needed personal growth. Speak with the children about making New Year's resolutions. Share with the children one way that you would like to grow personally in the New Year." Interesting column from Janet Zimmerman of the United Methodist Church Stewardship resources.

Resolutions Worth Keeping.How are you doing on those New Year's resolutions? So far so good? Here's an article that explores the surprising Pagan origins of this yearly custom, as well as how Christians through the ages have approached it. (Guess what the Puritans did!) "Many of us may have taken New Years Eve and New Years Day as God-given opportunities. We have taken at least a few minutes to reflect, pray, and dedicate ourselves anew to our Lord." From ChristianityToday.com.