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2008 Index


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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.

2008 Chronological Index of Content

For 2007, Click Here
For 2006,
Click Here

For 2005, Click Here
For 2004, Click Here
For 2003, Click Here

December 29, 2008
The Messy Work of Renewal
Alban Institute“The church seeking renewal must look beyond simply improving its programs and its building, though both may ultimately be changed. Pastors and laity leading renewal in their declining congregations are asking people to make fundamental shifts in their perspectives, their attitudes, and their behaviors.” Click here for “The Messy Work of Renewal,” from the Alban Institute.

Give Us This Day Our Human Rights
Lutheran World FederationOn the 60th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lutheran World Federation has published a wonderful 24-page resource taking the pulse of human rights today and our Christian response to it. “Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, and pray for “daily bread”, we renew our petition for the basic necessities for life in dignity—including peace and good government.” Click here for “Give us This Day our Human Rights,” from Lutheran World Federation.

Happy Not-So-New Year
Sharron Lucas“Last January, I embarked upon an experiment: 365 days without buying anything new, except for food, services, and certain items of clothing and personal care. I called it my year of “making do.” That year is finally over, and I have learned a lot.” Click here for "Happy Not-So-New Year," the latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

New Year's Time Killers Inventory
Leadership JournalTaking stock of your time management? Read on! “Discover God's will and purpose, and you'll use your time more effectively. If God wants us in Dallas, we're wasting our time traveling to the Grand Canyon or the rocky faces of Mount Rushmore.” Click here for “New Year’s Time Killers Inventory,” from LeadershipJournal.net.

Reluctant Resolutions for 2009
Dana ReardonThe current economic environment can serve to hit us in the face with the necessity of change.  We can draw our New Year's resolutions from the prison that our need for stuff that we can no longer afford puts us in.” Click here for “Reluctant Resolutions for 2009,” from contributor Dana Reardon. Click here to read past columns.

Christmas All the Time
Rob Blezard“Christmas alters our attitudes towards one another, if just for a time. Our Lord's coming into the world signaled God's solidarity with human beings, the fragile, pig-headed and fallen race that we are. Christmas provides hope and joy in the midst of our deepest problems and pain.” Click here for “Christmas All the Time,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

December 22, 2008
Mark S. Hanson, ELCA
Let’s go! Now! When angels came to some shepherds with a brilliant message one night long ago, the shepherds had a brilliant idea. Let’s go! Let’s see what God is doing! The unknown dangers of the night did not hold them back. Click here to read this message from Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Shaw Clifton, The Salvation Army
“How strange it is that so many folks mark Christmas in a way that is totally empty of Christ, the one whose birth is being remembered. Wise, truly joyful celebration does not go hand in hand with shallowness or with rowdy inebriation.” Click here for the message by Shaw Clifton, General of The Salvation Army.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, The Episcopal Church
“We know light that is not overcome by darkness, for God has come among us in human flesh. Born in poverty to a homeless couple, to a people long under occupation, Jesus is human and divine evidence that God is with us in the midst of the world's darkness” Click here for the message by Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church.

Samuel Kobia, World Council of Churches
“In celebrating Christmas, we recognize the coming of Jesus as the meeting-point of heaven and earth, the means of healing our broken relations with God, overcoming our hostility towards one another and re-kindling our determination to seek peace in this world.” Click here for the message by Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
“Christmas is a good time to think again about our attitudes to children and about what happens to children in our societies. Christians who recognise the infinite and all-powerful God in the vulnerability of a newborn baby have every reason to ask hard questions about the ways in which children come to be despised, exploited, even feared in our world.” Click here for the message by Rowan Williams, leader of the Anglican Communion.

Great Site: Design for Ministry with David S. Bell
Many of us got to know David from his excellent stewardship work with the United Methodist Church. Now a consultant, he is still offering quality essays and ideas through his website. Click here for Design for Ministry with David S. Bell.

Lowly People, Mighty Purposes
“What mighty purpose does God have for you? Seriously. Most of us just smile. Mighty purposes? Me? You can't be serious! But then, what else is your life for, except God's mighty purposes?” Click here for “Lowly People, Mighty Purposes,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

December 15, 2008
Donating, Drinking, Depression and Devotion
The Barna Group surveyed Christians about their Christmastime habits. Their results may give some insight to pastors and other church leaders seeking to minister to the faithful and reach out to the unchurched. Click here for “Donating, Drinking, Depression and Devotion, from The Barna Group.

So What? Now What? God’s What!
Christmas isn’t just any other day, but how do we explain its difference to a world that seems so openly opposed to the message of the gospel? How can a tiny, ethnic refugee baby compete with all the trimmings of an American holiday? What’s a Christian to do?” Sharron has some ideas. Click here for “So What?” the latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Advent Conspiracy
Americans spend $45 billion at Christmas every year, the website says, and the world gets very little of lasting value from it. They invite everyone to join the Advent Conspiracy to reform our celebration of Christmas away from consumerism. The handy plan calls for simple steps: Worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. Click here for Advent Conspiracy.

Faith, Hope, and the Credit Crisis
“The underlying causes of the current economic crisis are not financial, but spiritual. At least five of the seven deadly sins came into play: gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, and ultimately pride all came before the fall.” Interesting reading! Click here for “Faith, Hope, and the Credit Crisis, from Sojourners magazine.

Giving During a Crisis
“The effect of not knowing or being able to accurately predict what will happen in the coming years is bringing a huge amount of fear into every home and every congregation. And with that fear comes the tendency to become negative about anything and everything relating to their finances.” Click here for “Giving During a Crisis,” from Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Giving that is blessed, Indeed
“It is true that there is something noble and sacrificial in every act of giving, but the principle is especially true when we give to the weak because they are not in a power to offer anything in return.” Click here for “Giving That is Blessed, Indeed,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

December 8, 2008
Beyond Candy Cane Lane
“Our Christmas cheer turns sour as mass marketing, frenzied shopping, shortened tempers, burgeoning debt, and an exhausting calendar of activities overwhelm us. Buying fair-trade gifts and celebrating Christmas within the context of the Christian year are two humble practices for disentangling the holy day from consumerism.” Great food for thought this Christmas Season. Click here for “Beyond Candy Cane Lane,” from the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.

‘But it’s my money!’
When a teenage girl receives a gift of cash for her birthday, she wants to spend it on a mini makeover. Until something causes her to question her motives. Good reading for all of us who struggle with balancing our wants with God’s desire for us to care for others. Click here for “But it’s my money!” from Campus Life’s Ignite Your Faith magazine.

10 Stewardship Issues Every Church Leader Should Consider in 2009
Everybody expects 2009 to be a tough year for churches who need to not only balance their budgets but also fund new initiatives to build up the Kingdom of God. Here’s an insightful piece that offers advice for leaders and pastors to plan for stewardship in a tough year. Click here for “10 Stewardship Issues,” from National Association of Church Business Administrators.

Are We There Yet?
"Take a deep breath, silence the carols and the movies, step out of the kitchen, put down that list of things to buy and do, and turn to the 61st chapter of Isaiah. Now read the words and sit with them. Remember, it’s Advent—not Christmas just yet." Click here for "Are We There Yet?" from SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Fight the real war on Christmas
They’re at it again – the folks getting riled up about a phony “war on Christmas.” They’re missing the mark by a mile. The real war on Christmas is much scarier and more deeply entrenched. Click here for “Fight the real war on Christmas,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

December 1, 2008
Stewardship and Development in Tough Economic Times
Lots of church leaders need a morale boost in the current downturn. Here it is! It’s a no-nonsense look at how recession affects – and does not affect – religious giving, and what pastors and leaders can do to help their people and institutions through the crisis. Click here for “Stewardship and Development in Tough Economic Times, from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Satisfying Stewardship: How to Plan Wisely for Holiday Feasts and Fun
This article gives practical, commonsense tips on how to keep your Christmas food and entertaining budget from spiraling out of control. “Start with an overall plan to stop grocery spending in its tracks!” Good beginning! Share this link with your parishioners. Click here for “Satisfying Stewardship: How to Plan Wisely for Holiday Feasts and Fun,” posted on Christianbooks.com

The Engine of the Market
“It's not capital. Why wealthy evangelicals and others need to reconsider executive compensation.” Here is a fascinating discussion about the need to balance wealth and faith, and why the picture needs balancing in today’s culture. Click here for “The Engine of the Market,” a column in ChristianityToday.

Have an Asset-Based Thanksgiving
Everybody’s pretty bummed out about the crisis, but when you really look at it, most of us have quite a bit to be thankful for. Unlike our investments and 401(k) plan, some important aspects of our lives are not easily measured and reported.” Click here for “Have an Asset-Based Thanksgiving.” from SOLI editor Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

November 24, 2008
The Economic Bailout and God’s Investment Plan
How should faithful Christians look at the financial meltdown and the rescue plan? This essay provides good insights. “Greed not only implies excessive desire and consumption, it also includes the acrimonious manipulation of markets, institutions, and individuals. More importantly, greed breaks down the ability for people to embrace deeply committed, spiritual lives.” Click here for “The Economic Bailout and God’s Investment Plan,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Stressful Times
“In a conversation this week with a pastor I have been coaching recently, he said to me, ‘I haven’t slept well all week, knowing that so many people in our congregation have lost significant savings in the market.’ I agreed.” Such times call for new coping habits, and ELCA stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker sugg4ests a number of them.  Click here for “Stressful Times,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Audio Sermon: ‘Let’s Talk About Money’
Drawing on Luke 12:13-34, Pastor John Huffman of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif., reviews Jesus’ teachings on money. Good for inspiration for your own preaching. Click here for “Let’s Talk About Money,” from Preachingtoday.com.

Celebrate ‘Buy Nothing Day’
Christians who believe the Gospel is countercultural can relate to “Buy Nothing Day” the Friday after Thanksgiving. The busiest shopping day of the year has become the time when some urge non-consumption. Something to think about. Click here for information about “Buy Nothing Day,” from Adbusters, which organized the first such day in 1992 and is truly a little out there.  Not for everyone, but thought provoking.

Enough Is Enough
“The financial crisis is causing many people to reassess their relationship to money.  For those of us who still are fortunate enough to have jobs, houses, and some economic security, the crisis has been sobering, to say the least.” Click here for “Enough Is Enough,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

November 17, 2008
Mission Possible: Motivational Factors for Charitable Giving
Our church members today face an increasing number of savvy charitable organizations vying for their limited contribution dollars. Is your church being squeezed out? Providing keen insight into why people give to one charity over another, this article can help church leaders plan better. Click here for “Mission Possible: Motivational Factors for Charitable Giving, from Church Executive magazine.

Working with Younger, Affluent Donors
“They aren't their parents or grandparents. When it comes to philanthropy, younger affluent individuals have a different outlook on charitable giving and different motivations for sharing their wealth with charitable causes.” Learn about how to reach this emerging demographic. Click here for “Working with Younger, Affluent Donors,” from Philanthropy Journal.

Sheep, Goats and Jesus in Disguise
The Gospel reading for the upcoming Christ the King Sunday presents us with lots of questions to ponder. "Just what kind of king are we serving anyway? Jesus surely doesn’t fit the monarch mold for the Western world. In fact, he doesn’t fit the CEO mold, the CFO mold, or any other kind of mold." Click here for "Sheep, Goats and Jesus in Disguise," the latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

In Hard Economic Times, Church Must Proclaim Justice, Good Stewardship
“God has not abandoned the people or the church in this time of national economic crisis,” begins this prophetic essay. “The presence of God calls us not only to comfort, however, but also to confront the forces that have driven our country into this economic ditch.” Read this! Click here for “In Hard Economic Times …,” from The United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.

Thanksgiving Sermons
Don’t preach a turkey Thanksgiving (sorry, couldn’t resist). Gratitude is a key component of generosity, so Thanksgiving offers a stewardship preaching opportunity. For your inspiration, here are some good Thanksgiving sermons, based on Luke 17:11-19, from around the web.
Click here for “A Heart of Faith is a Heart of Thanks,” preached by the Rev. Don Hougard of Benediction Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wis.
Click here for “Four Steps to Thanksgiving,” preached by the Rev. Thomas F. Fischer, editor of Ministry Health Sermon Starters.
Click here for “Recovery of Gratitude,” preached by the Rev. Mary Alice Haynie of Southport Presbyterian Church, Southport, N.C.

The Law’s Tithing vs. the Gospel’s Free Generosity
“Next time you're at a church social function, go up to people who seem to be having fun and start talking about tithing. Most will run for cover faster than vampires at dawn.  But the ones who remain may have an interesting story to share.”  Click here for "The Law's Tithing vs. the Gospel's Free Generosity,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

November 10, 2008
What Is Sacrificial Giving?
Now here’s a congregation that’s really using the Web as a stewardship education tool. This is one of several on their stewardship page, but in addition to reading good materials you can click to watch a very professional video presentation as well. Good inspiration for your own congregation’s web efforts. Click here for “What Is Sacrificial Giving?” From St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Welcoming ‘Time Share’ Christians
Just about every church has them – a growing number of folks who come to worship regularly enough to be noticed, but not regularly enough to achieve our archaic status as a “good member.” This insightful article talks about a new paradigm for thinking about them (“Time Share” Christians) and fitting them into church life. Lots of stewardship implications. Click here for “Welcoming the ‘Time Share’ Christians,” from Circuit Rider, the publication for United Methodist clergy.

A Fresh Look
“As the economic turmoil crowds out all other current concerns, it’s a good time for congregations to take a fresh look at how they draw up their budgets for 2009. One of the biggest challenges for many congregations is that every year they see the same scenario.” Click here for “A Fresh look,” from Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Stewardship Sermons for This Week
This week’s Gospel reading – Jesus’ parable of the talents – offers a great chance to preach on stewardship. To help inspire your own preaching, here are some sermons on that text in 2005, the last cycle of Lectionary Year A.
Click here for “Circulating Gifts,” preached by the Rev. Kevin Smith at Almaden Valley United Church of Christ, San Jose, Calif.
Click here for “Investing God’s Way,” preached at Richmond Hill United Church, Richmond Hill, Ontario. The Rev. Allan Baker uses an environmental emphasis.
Click here for “Lifetrading,” preached by the Rev. Dr.  Jeffrey K. London at John Knox Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Okla.
Click here for “Watch out! Talent at work!” preached by the Rev. Dr. Bryon E. Shafer at Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York, N.Y.

A Budget is a Statement of Faith
“What does your church budget represent? In a workshop, Terry Parsons, Stewardship Officer of the Episcopal Church, gave this ‘Devil's Dictionary’ definition of a church budget: ‘It is the means by which we notify the Lord of the limitations we intend to impose on his gifts for the coming year.’ ” Yikes! Click here for A Budget is a Statement of Faith,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

November 3, 2008
Stewardship Bulletin Inserts
Here’s a wise adjudicatory that has made over three dozen ready-to-print stewardship bulletin inserts available to its churches. Topics range from Biblical principles, tithing, use of time, Christmas, the Sabbath and volunteerism. Good stuff! Great inspiration for your own stewardship communications. Click here for “Stewardship Bulletin Inserts,” from the Synod of Alberta & the Territories, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Stuff Love
Even with our economy on the ropes (or maybe because of it), we are hearing a lot of nervousness about how much consumers will spend this Christmas. To help put perspective on the issue, here’s a thoughtful, well-written essay about America’s addiction to consumerism. A very good read! Click here for “Stuff Love,” from the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.

Spark a Conflagration of Light and Hope
“We live in uncertain times fueled by economic disaster, war, poverty, and contentious politics. The easiest thing to do would be to circle the proverbial wagons and hunker down with passing thanks that we at least have roofs over our heads.” Click here for “Spark a Conflagration of Light and Hope,” the latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Stewardship: Faith or Money?
This is a healthy discussion of how congregations can move stewardship from talking about just money to talking about faith. “Stewardship as a way of life will not happen with a single homily, announcement, bulletin notices, or another program. Stewardship is lived discipleship.” Click here for “Stewardship: Faith or Money,” from Church magazine, a Catholic publication.

‘Newman’s Own’ Brand of Stewardship
Paul Newman lived out his beliefs of responsibility, sharing and caring for others. “In accolade after accolade, people remember Newman as a plainspoken guy who never let fame, fortune or public fawning get the better of him. Though he was one of the biggest stars of the 20th century, it was his work off-camera that he cited as his greatest achievement.” Click here for “ ‘Newman’s Own’ Brand of Stewardship,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

October 27, 2008
Holy Habits in a Fickle Economy
As the economic picture becomes increasingly cloudy, many churches are facing – or are bracing for – hard times. Here are some great tips for how church leaders can cope, keep their heads, avoid panic and stay faithful. Click here for “Holy Habits in a Fickle Economy,” from The Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.

Stewardship by Small Steps
Here is a GREAT resource that lists simple things an individual, family or church can do to live stewardship. Example: “Put a piece of straw in your wallet before Christmas shopping, to remind yourself of the greatest gift, Jesus in the manger.  Or, “Create a button: ‘I'm a Steward for Christ.’ Ask ministry leaders to wear them regularly, in order to build interest. Then distribute them to the parish.” Click here for “Stewardship by Small Steps,” from Live It, a Catholic group worth checking out.

A Strange Phenomenon
“Funny, isn’t it, that so many of us go through a major part of our lives thinking we are on ‘God’s Team’ and then discovering that after all this time we are really only a fan – a spectator! They become comfortable as spectators and because of their busy lives, decide they can’t be players.” Good reading! Click here for “A Strange Phenomenon, from Tuck Aaker, stewardship columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

15 Ways to Increase Your Church’s Offerings
Want some new ideas for adding dollars to your congregation’s coffers? (And what church is not?) Here is a handy resource that not only lists 15 ways, but also has links to help you explore the concepts more fully. Click here for “15 Ways to Increase Your Church’s Offerings,” from LifeWay.

The Ever-Reforming Church
“God's church has always attracted wolves in sheep clothing who profiteer by distorting God's truth. Reformation Day inspires us to challenge falsehoods and profiteering in the name of God.” Click here for “The Ever-Reforming Church,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

October 20, 2008
We Are Called to Share
Here’s a congregation that has a visionary idea of stewardship and has developed a comprehensive approach around it. “Our Christian faith tells us that happiness comes from being content with what we have and feeling like we are making a difference in the world. With layoffs, foreclosures, and economic downturns, our trust that God will provide can be challenged.” Good inspiration for all Christians. Click here for “We are Called to Share,” from Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Stone Mountain, Ga.

How to Slow Your Life Down
Rick Warren, the “Purpose-Driven” pastor, offers clear, biblical advice on how to avoid burnout and stress. Designed for pastors, the wisdom is applicable to anybody who finds themselves trying to cram too much activity into too little time. (In other words, just about everybody!) Click here for “How to slow your life down,” from Pastors. Com.

Global Rich List
Amid all the economic gloom, are you feeling impoverished, especially when you see so many neighbors and friends who are doing so much better? Here’s something to raise your spirit – and maybe those of your congregation members as well. It’s a website that puts your income into global perspective. Find out where you stand economically in the world. A real eye opener. Click here for “Global Rich List.

Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response
Here are highlights from a big campaign that are sure to inspire and guide you in your own. “Because its individual members do collectively make up the Body of Christ, that body’s health and well-being are the responsibility of the members—the personal responsibility of each one of us. Click here for Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, from the Archdiocese of St. Paul.

Involuntary Simplicity
The simple living movement used to be a luxury, back when times were good. “For families living with loss of income and uncertainty in their jobs and finances, simple living may provide a survival strategy.” Click here for “Involuntary Simplicity,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

October 13, 2008
Managing The Church’s Financial Resources
This is a  “mother lode” of resources dealing with church finance – a set of articles dealing with a wide variety of financial issues and problems that every church encounters. The main piece and sidebars deal with such basic issues as financial controls, budgeting and documentation. Click here for “Managing the Church’s Financial Resources,” from Enrichment Journal, the magazine of the Assemblies of God.

Six Ways to Calculate Your Church Budget
If budget time is an annual occasion for your finance committee to tear its hair out, here is a resource that might help. It lists a number of alternatives for putting a church budget together. It may help your church to get out of a rut. Click here for “Six Ways to Calculate Your Church Budget,” from Your Church magazine.

The Things That Are God’s
Jesus’ interchange with the Pharisees over taxes in this week’s Gospel text can teach us much about our own approach toward money. “One of the critical steps in moving from the illusion of control to a life of biblical stewardship is in letting go of the notion of possession.” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Pastoral Letter: On the Current Financial Crisis
The ELCA Conference of Bishops, consisting of all 65 synodical bishops, has issued a special letter to guide pastors, church leaders and every Christian in how to think and react to the current economic downturn. Good resource to help your sermons, your budgeting and your ministries. Click here for “On the Current Financial Crisis,” from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

A Winning Approach
Time and again, congregations facing budget problems give more – and their finances improve! “It has happened time after time and still the majority of our congregations can’t summon the faith to overcome their fears of taking a new direction and trust the Lord to provide for their needs. What part of faith don’t they understand?” Click here for “A Winning Approach” from stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker in ELCA Stewardship Resources.

October 6, 2008
Secrets to Strong Giving in a Struggling Economy
The meltdown on Wall Street hurts not only Main Street, but Church Street as well. This article provides insight into how to keep your church afloat in turbulent financial waters. Click here for “Secrets to Strong Giving in a Struggling Economy,” from ChurchSolutions magazine.

Care of Creation is a Spiritual Issue
Speaking at about the time of the 2004 election, Rev. Sally Bingham of the Episcopal Church said environmental issues transcend politics. What makes it spiritual and something every person in every faith should take seriously is that how we treat the planet, our fragile island earth, is a manifestation of our relationship with God and one another.” Click here for this essay, which holds meaning now in the midst of another election. From the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Feed the Flock
What do our ministries mean to the people we serve? “When we open our hearts and our doors and do what God is calling us to then it is like throwing a pebble in a pond the ripples flow out in every direction and everything and everyone gets touched.” Click here for this essay from SOLI columnist Rev. Dana Reardon. Click here to read her archived pieces.

15 New (and Old) Ideas About Year-Round Stewardship Formation
Call it a great summary of best practices for stewardship, this handy list can go to every member of the Stewardship and Finance Committees to inspire, educate and guide their work. Click here for 15 New (and Old) Ideas, from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

A Divine Mission and Necessity for Survival
“Let me lay my cards on the table right away," theologian Douglas John Hall began his talk. “I think there is probably no more important theological and ethical task for Christians today than that of developing a worldly theology of human stewardship." Click here for commentary on his talk from SOLI columnist Rev. Robert Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

September 29, 2008
‘Green Church’ Initiative
Here is a comprehensive set of resources to help your church not only save energy, but also model stewardship and help educate your people about environmental issues. It’s the “Green Church” initiative and from this link you’ll find all sorts of helpful information to get you going. Click here for “Green Church,” from the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches of Christ.

Book Review: Brand Jesus
In order to get people to church, “evangelism” in our consumer society has really morphed into shallow marketing, where Jesus Christ is a mere product label, according to Tyler Wigg Stevenson’s new book, “Brand Jesus: Christianity in a Consumerist Age,” Seabury Books. Click here for this interesting review in ChristianityToday.com.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
Looking at Jesus’ parable of the greedy tenants on this Sunday’s lectionary, our columnist found a caution for us today. “Jesus’ words bring us a harsh reminder of how far we fall from God’s will. Our current ‘gardening methods’ will not yield a bumper kingdom crop.” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

The Coming Paradigm Shift in Philanthropy
In this essay, an expert in nonprofit fundraising talks about a new way of thinking of charitable giving. The new paradigm has interesting consequences for churches, which compete with philanthropic agencies for funding. Click here for “The Coming Paradigm Shift in Philanthropy, from onPhilanthropy.com.

Financial Hurricanes
“Ike blew into Galveston and swept away many homes, neighborhoods, lives. Now we have a financial hurricane blasting across our nation. Who will be hardest hit? It depends on where you live financially and spiritually.” Click here for “Financial Hurricanes,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition of our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

September 22, 2008
Powerpoint: Stewardship Vital Signs
Making a case for stewardship and discipleship? Here’s a powerpoint presentation that provides great ideas for energizing a congregation about Stewardship of Life. Easily adaptable to your own church context. Click here for “Stewardship Vital Signs,” from Biblical Money Management.

Thinking about thinking, and how thinking affects stewardship
Aside from the weighty title, this resource has some very excellent, well, thinking about how people embrace stewardship both individually and culturally, and how we can help our people to think differently. Click here for “Thinking about thinking,” From the Stewardship Connection website, run Eugene Grim.

Segmenting Donors Leads to Inspired Generosity
Most churches have a “one size fits all” approach to stewardship appeals. How does that usually work out? Poorly, says this article. A better way is to look at different approaches for different types of people in your congregation. Click here for “Segmenting Donors Leads to Inspired Generosity,” from the Center for Christian Stewardship of the United Methodist Church

In Crisis, Wall Street Turns to Prayer
It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes. Today I guess you’d have to say there are no atheists on Wall Street. This interesting article talks about the power of prayer in the corridors of financial power. How is your congregation dealing with the financial meltdown, and the aftershocks to come? Click here for “In Crisis, Wall Street Turns to Prayer,” from ChristianityToday.com.

Fresh, Tasty and Good for You
“Fresh produce is a real treat -- and one you can indulge in without guilt. 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.” Click here for “Faith, Hope and Love for Our Future,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

September 15, 2008
Vision for Success
Campaigns to raise money take time, planning and vision. No surprises there, but wise stewardship leaders know it’s tricky to put all the pieces together. Here’s an article that provides a good framework. Click here for “Vision for Success,” from Your Church magazine.

What Does the Bible Say About Creation Care?
Rooted in the Word of God, Christians should be aware of Scripture’s mandate to care for the environment. This article provides a good roundup and summary. Click here for “What Does the Bible Say about Creation Care?” from the Evangelical Environmental Network.

Living Simply ≠ Simply Living
Now nine months into the experiment of buying nothing new, our columnist has learned many important lessons about justice, equality and human nature. “I’m finding that a lifestyle of careful stewardship is a much more complex and perplexing proposition than the standard consumer culture opt-in.” Click here for “Living ≠ Simply Living,” from SOLI columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Care for Clergy Living With ‘Un-Holy’ Stress
Pastors generally carry heavy burdens of stress, and the “burnout” rate is very high for clergy. Must it always be so? No, says this article, a must read for pastors, their families and church leaders who support the clergy. Click here for “Care for Clergy Living With ‘Un-Holy’ Stress,” from the Congregational Resource Guide.

Showers of Gratitude
“It's certainly true that we pray hardest when we are in great distress, when needs press upon us in every direction. But it is easy to slip right back into the habit of taking our everyday blessings for granted.” Click here for “Showers of Gratitude,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

September 8, 2008
Talking About Money in a Small Membership Church
Imagine you are the new pastor of a church that does not have a campaign for pledging, does not pledge at all, and people don’t talk about money? That is exactly the situation Pastor Amy Mayo-Moyle encountered in her ministry. Her article tells how she turned it around – and how you can handle such a situation. Click here for “Talking About Money in a Small Membership Church,” from Circuit Rider, the United Methodist Church’s magazine for clergy.

Faith-Based Stewardship: A Fresh Perspective on Congregational Giving
Most pastors preach that stewardship involves how a disciple or a community of disciples uses all of their God-given resources for Godly purposes. But then the punchline is usually, “and give us more money.” So says this wise article that proposes a new approach. Click here for “Faith Based Stewardship,” from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship.

It’s in the Book
Time and again, congregations facing budget problems give more – and their finances improve! “It has happened time after time and still the majority of our congregations can’t summon the faith to overcome their fears of taking a new direction and trust the Lord to provide for their needs. What part of faith don’t they understand?” Click here for “It’s in the Book” from stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker in ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Discovering Your Gifts
In your annual stewardship campaign, remember to ask your people to take a spiritual gifts inventory. It may help them to discern how the Lord is calling them to serve. Here is a survey that is really comprehensive, yet short! Click here for “Discovering Your Gifts,” from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, Ohio.

A Habit of Highly Effective Stewards
Church leaders can take a tip from business guru Stephen Covey, whose bestselling book advises executives to put first things first. “How many of our pastors clog their schedules and work hours with matters that, while noble and good and perhaps useful, are not really important to the overall mission and goals of the church?” Click here for “A Habit of Highly Effective Stewards,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

September 1, 2008
Great Website: Stewardship for the 21st Century
Here is the, um, second best free stewardship website on the Internet – it’s a virtual online library of stewardship resources for congregations. Bookmark this site alongside SOLI for everything you need in Stewardship. Click here for Stewardship for the 21st Century, from Luther Seminary.

Labor Day 2008
Food for thought this Labor Day week, this statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops puts the economic life of our nation and world into Christian perspective. Drawing from the Bible and the Roman Catholic tradition, Bishop William F. Murphy reminds us that the Gospel calls us to consider, before profits, the welfare of our brothers and sisters. Click here for Labor Day 2008, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Drawing Big Circles & Coloring Outside the Lines
How poorly we listen to Jesus’ call to expand ourselves and our comfort zones. “In the unfortunate end, what it means to be church is skewed by the limits of narrow minds, shortsightedness, and fear.” Click here for “Drawing Big Circles & Coloring Outside the Lines,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist the Rev. Sharron R. Lucas. Click here to read archived columns.

300 Ideas for Effective Fundraising Letters
Do you dread crafting the letter for the annual stewardship appeal? You’re not alone. Here is a great resource with 300 terrific ideas for helping you craft the letter with just the right flair. Click here for 300 Ideas for Effective Fundraising Letters, from Maximum Generosity.

Lives Lost & Gained
“For most of us, our possessions reveal not who we really are, but who we think we are and who we want others to think we are. It happens because our sinful world tells us that our true worth as a human being is reflected our power, our wealth and our reputation.” Click here for “Lives Lost & Gained,” the essay from last week’s SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter, from web editor Rob Blezard. Click here to read archived essays.

August 25, 2008
Message of Christian Stewardship Reaches New Audience Online
Jesus warned us against pouring old wine into new wineskins, so why are we still using old stewardship approaches with new people? “The gen-Xers and the Y generation are very difficult to reach. They’re a very visual group and rely on television and Internet for their information. This carries over to their church lives, too." Click here to read “Message of Christian Stewardship,” from the United Methodist Church.

Spread the Good Word about Tithing
Our columnist from 2003-2007, Dana Reardon, is back with a guest essay – reflecting on a new member who did not feel right until she got back to tithing. “I have to wonder why God would lay it on the heart of this faithful Christian to tithe, and yet not lean just as heavily on the faithful people who have been in this church for many years.” Click here for “Spread the Good Word about Tithing,” from the Rev. Dana Reardon. Click here for archived essays from Pastor Reardon.

Great Website: 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy
Here your church members will find everything they need to get a handle on their finances – for a lifetime! Call it an accountant’s answer to all the dumb questions clients have asked over the years, this site is a free, online primer in household finances. Click here for 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, from the American Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Labor Day Resources
The economy is the number one issue on people’s minds on this election year, and that gives Labor Day 2008 special meaning. Here is an assortment of materials to help your congregation to celebrate Labor Day at worship this coming Sunday. Click here for Labor Day Resources, from Christianity Today.

Gold Medal Stewardship
“The sight of those bicyclists in Beijing really inspired me. No, not the Olympic athletes, but the everyday citizens getting around on bicycles – to work, to school, shopping everywhere.” Might we learn from the Chinese? Click here for “Gold Medal Stewardship,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

August 18, 2008
Energy Workbook for Religious Buildings
Here’s a truth every church is facing: Energy costs are sky high. Electricity for lights, equipment and air conditioning is way up. And for churches in northern climes, heating costs will be astronomical this winter. So now, while there’s time before the snow flies, why not look at ways your church can economize? This guide can help get your congregation started. The 14-page document walks you through ways to save. Click here for Energy Workbook for Religious Buildings, from Kairos, a Canadian ecumenical initiative.

Conform or Transform
This coming week’s Epistle reading offers a powerful lesson in stewardship, “To conform is to allow ourselves to be molded by external forces, in this case by the standards and trappings of the world. Like a lump of clay we allow ourselves to be fashioned or modeled after someone else’s idea of how life should be.”  Click here for “Conform or Transform,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist the Rev. Sharron R. Lucas. Click here to read archived columns.

Stewardship Commitment Programs
Wondering what to do about stewardship this year? This is a handy resource that gives you an overview of the types of programs available to congregations to help you narrow down to the one that right for your church. Click here for Stewardship Commitment Programs, from United Church of Canada.

Achieving the Mission
Over the years of his work as a consultant, Tuck Aaker found that organizations often have wonderful mission statements. “The problem is, very few of these groups have given much thought to what they have to do to achieve those goals, “ and as a result most never do!” Good advice! Click here for “Achieving the Mission,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Church Must Prioritize Giving As Discipleship
“The priorities of the church today are almost universally misplaced. In those churches that do talk about money, it is more often for the sake of institutional preservation than the personal enrichment of those who wish to be genuine followers of God.” Click here for Church Must Prioritize Giving As Discipleship, from ChurchCentral.

August 11, 2008
Free to Give: A Five-Sermon Series
OK, Pastors. You've been meaning to do something different and substantial with your annual stewardship season. Here is a leg-up -- the outline of a five-sermon series. Easily adaptable to a shorter series, or whatever fits your needs. And a bonus: free pdf downloads on tithing and stewardship exercises. Click here for "Free to Give," from LifeWay publications.

Budgeting in the Local Church
Whether your Stewardship and Finance Committees have just been formed or have been on autopilot for years, this resource offers good, basic advice to help your church get its financial house in order. A good checkup for the experienced, a how-to for the novice. Click here for “Budgeting in the Local Church,” from the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

What's the Problem?
"Many of our congregations have no 'path to discipleship' that lays out the extra steps needed to grow spiritually. The goals of far too many pastors are focused on numbers; numbers in attendance, number of dollars given and the number of members on their membership roles.”  Click here for this essay by columnist Tuck Aaker on ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Why Green? Examining the Church's Role in Environmental Stewardship
When it comes to the "green" revolution in building design, construction and operation, many churches are behind the curve. "For too long, 'stewardship' has been incorrectly defined by the Church as spending as few dollars as possible, particularly in regard to up-front building construction costs." Click here for “Why Green,” from Church Solutions magazine.

Fearless Giving
“Fear keeps many of us from growing as disciples of Christ. If we let fear dictate our lives, we’d probably never read a lesson in front of the congregation, never visit a severely injured church member, never stand up against injustice, never reach out to the suffering. In the same way, fear is a key barrier to generous financial giving.” Click here for “Fearless Giving," from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

August 4, 2008
Change a Light, Change the World
Congregations used to work to save energy as a matter of “going green.” Now they need to save energy as way of saving “green.” The U.S. Department of Energy can help with its Energy Star program, which is now inviting congregations (and other institutions) to “Change a Light, Change the World. Click here to find out more about this program, along with details on Energy Star Congregations.

Planning for Year-Round Stewardship: A How-To
Stewardship shouldn’t be just that fall push at budgeting time, but something we encourage our people to think about 365 days a year. Here is a resource that can inspire and equip your stewardship committee and other leaders. Click here for “Planning for Year-Round Stewardship: A How-To,” from the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Faithful Feet
Yes, feet are the most overworked yet overlooked part of the body, but so important to a, well, walk of discipleship.  “Perhaps it’s time to see our feet from God’s perspective through the lens of Isaiah and Paul: as tools of the messenger, as foundational to carrying the good news into all the earth.”  Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Stewardship of Relationships
A writer finds the “Golden Rules” still the key to maintaining relationships, but it needs updating for today. “I am persuaded to alter my childish interpretation of how to act on this adage,” writes Anne Kayser. Click here for “Stewardship of Relationships,” from the Oregon-Idaho General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Loaves & Fishes Stewardship
“My congregation worships in a 127-year-old building that, while sturdy, is in need of long-deferred maintenance. Faced with leaks in the roof, cracks in the parking lot, moisture in the walls and tired carpets and paint throughout, we cannot put off the work any longer. We know what needs to be done. The question is paying for it.” Click here for “Loaves & Fishes Stewardship,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

July 28, 2008
Why My Family Tithes
In this address, a faithful church member shares with his peers the story behind his church giving. “I don’t have to sell stewardship. Stewardship was sold by the number one sales person in the world — God.” Click here for “Why My Family Tithes,” from the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of North America.

Safeguards for Handling Church Funds
Many churches put their financial wellbeing at risk by slopping procedures for handling money. This resource identifies areas where a church can go tighten things up. Click here for “Safeguards for Handling Church Funds,” from Enrichment Journal, the magazine of the Assemblies of God.

Getting Rich vs. Giving Richly
Most everyone in our culture wants to become richer financially over time, but that won’t lead to spiritual growth. As we grow more mature in our faith we can aspire to give richly even as we become more wealthy. This essay explores the topic well. Click here for “Getting Rich vs. Richly Giving.” From Generous Giving.

An Old, Old Story
Stewardship has been a challenge for Christians for 2,000 years. But what has changed about stewardship in that time? “Do we need to retool our approaches and rethink our strategies to inspire true stewardship?” Interesting exploration. Click here for “An Old, Old Story,” from Tuck Aaker, stewardship columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

July 21, 2008
How Global Climate Change Will Impact Core Church Ministries
Here is a sobering, downright chilling look at the projected effects of global warming and how those will change the way we do ministry. It looks at areas of refugee resettlement, disaster relief, ministry to elderly and youth, food security and others. Click here for “How Global Climate Change Will Impact Core Church Ministries,” from the National Council of Churches of Christ Eco Justice Program. Requires free registration. While your there, check out the other wonderful free materials.

Christian Stewardship is Taking God at His Word
This weighty theological exploration looks at the range of issues, challenges and benefits to stewardship. Lots to think about for disciples and stewardship leaders alike. Click here for “Christian Stewardship is Taking God at His Word,” posted by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

Second Coming Ecology
What do you get when you cross the Left Behind hysteria with the ecological crisis? “It's often said that many Christians—particularly evangelical Christians—don't care for the environment precisely because they are so focused on end times. If God is going to come and destroy all this anyway, why should we invest our energies in preserving it?” What’s a better response? Click here for “Second Coming Ecology,” from Christianitytoday.com.

Energy Management Can Lower Costs and Enhance Stewardship
Now more than ever, churches need to get serious about conserving energy, lest valuable mission dollars go up the chimney in heating (or cooling, or electricity) costs. Good resource, packed with tips. Click here for “Energy Management Can Lower Costs and Enhance Stewardship” From Church Solutions magazine.

Vacation Stewardship Lessons
“For me, living in a tent without plumbing or electricity for a week helps me understand just how much I really own, and how much of it I really don't need -- however much I want and like it. The awareness is priceless. ‘What more do I need?’” Click here for “Vacation Stewardship Lessons,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

July 14, 2008
A Personal Spending Plan
“A personal spending plan is a fundamental tool that enables individuals to control money rather than to be controlled by it! A spending plan further enables people to help reach their financial goals and live out their values and priorities.” That’s the good ness. The bad news is that less than half of all people have such plans, says this fine essay, which suggests ways to help. Click here for “A Personal Spending Plan,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Stewardship and StonePillow Slumber
“When we humans recognize God’s divine activity in our lives, when we understand God’s radical grace and mercy in the face of our sinful nature, then a response follows.” Click here for “Stewardship and Stone Pillow Slumber,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist Pastor Sharron R. Lucas. Click here to read some of Pastor Lucas’ archived columns.

Generous Stewardship
“Among adults who attend church regularly (an average of at least once a month), more than one out of every three (37 percent) did not give any money to church in the past year.”  How to change these attitudes? That’s the big question. Read on for some ideas. Click here for Generous Stewardship, posted on LifeWay.

Your Net Worth
Debt is crippling the lives of many of our parishioners, says stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker. “As the spiritual advisors of our people, we need to address and help those who are having financial challenges in their lives and try to guide them out of the darkness and into the light of a new way.” Click here for “Your Net Worth,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

July 7, 2008
Matter of Life and Debt
Many people have been riding a wave of credit so long, they think it will last forever. But when it crashes, they don’t have to drown. This article gives great advice for managing debt. Although it’s written for Britons, the advice is easily adapted for us Americans. Click here for “Matter of Life and Debt,” from the Church of England.

Getting Out of Debt
With energy and food costs going through the roof, even people with good incomes are finding themselves pinched. This article is as much about STAYING out of debt as GETTING out of debt. As the financial storms approach, we all need good advice to batten down the money hatches. Click here for “Getting Out of Debt,” from Generous Giving.

What To Do When Someone Asks for Money
Does your church have a policy for handling requests for assistance by people who wander into your property? It should, lest your lay people fall victim to scam artists or thugs. This church’s advice may inspire and guide your own church’s policy. Click here for “What To Do When Someone Asks for Money,” from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 

Faith, Hope and Love for Our Future
“After pretending for millennia that we can exploit our natural resources forever, continue to engage in violence as the first and best response to conflict, continuing to fail to love our neighbors as ourselves, we now know we must change. Or die an early death.” Click here for “Faith, Hope and Love for Our Future,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

Inquiry Into Megachurch Money Sparks Church-State Showdown
Most pastors in the United States are not overpaid, but the few high-profile pastors who make millions from their ministries are stirring the waters. This article details the inquiry into the tax-exempt status of several ministries – and the questions it raises for the rest. Click here for “Inquiry Into Megachurch Money Sparks Church-State Showdown,” from Church & State magazine and posted on Alternet.

June 30, 2008
The Green Church
Whether your congregation is building a new structure or staying put in an old building, there are plenty of ways to lower your energy usage – saving money and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Click here for “The Green Church,” from Church Solutions magazine.

Why it’s Important to Keep Tithing in Tough Economic Times
“Most people would concede that our current economy is going through some tough times and most people are feeling the impact in some way or another. As Christians, we aren’t immune to these troubles, but we know that God will provide a way out and will help us overcome if we trust in Him and follow in his principles.” Click here for “Why it’s Important to Keep Tithing in Tough Economic Times,” from Crosswalk.com.

A GPS For $ Directions
"One of the key reasons that so many of our congregations don’t grow is because they afraid to ask for help. Most of them will suffer through years of “hand wringing” and long debates in their council meetings agonizing over things that can be corrected in short order by groups within the ELCA that are always anxious to help" Click here for "A GPS for $ Directions," from Tuck Aaker, weekly columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Full of Sound and Fury and a Lot of Hot Air?
“Do you ever wonder what Jesus would have to say to us if he came to our towns to teach? Would he be as frustrated with our inability to grasp his life-giving message? Would he find our differences and divisions as petty as those of the religious leaders of his day?” Click here for “Full of Sound and Fury,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist the Rev. Sharron R. Lucas. Click here to read columns from her archive.

Does Economic Downturn Mean Crisis for Nonprofits?
It is nearly impossible these days to avoid thinking - and worrying - about the country's recent economic struggles.” But what’s a nonprofit manager (such as a pastor or finance committee) to think? This article has some tips. Click here for “Does Economic Downturn Mean Crisis for Nonprofits,” from onPhilanthropy.org.

June 23, 2008
Money As Religion
Here’s a mind-stretching, soul-challenging resource critiquing how Americans view wealth. Good for small-group discussion, sermon inspiration or personal devotion. Click here for “Money as Religion,” from the Stewardship Department of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Christian Stewardship: What God Expects of Us
“Christian stewardship is a way of living in which we recognize that everything belongs to God. All resources must be used for His glory and the common good.” Click here for “Christian Stewardship: What God Expects of Us,” from Catholic Education Resource Center.

Caring for God’s Creation and God’s People
“In the midst of a hurting world of homelessness, environmental destruction and hopelessness, a theology of inter-relationship is urgently needed.” So begins this challenging essay that calls us to Christ-centered faith, from which flows sound stewardship. Click here for “Caring for God’s Creation and God’s People,” from Missouri Renewable Energy.

The ‘Theology of the Hammer,’ and the ‘Ecoomics of Jesus’
“For Christian stewards who are concerned with issues of poverty and affordable housing, Habitat for humanity proves a simple, hands-on way to help..” Click here for “The ‘Theology of the Hammer,’ and the “Economics of Jesus,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

June 16, 2008
Capital Campaigns: Inspiring Generosity Through Abundant Vision
If your church is thinking about a Capital Campaign, here is an article worth checking out! Stewardship expert David Bell explains what a Captial Campaign is – and is not. This will help you get on the right path and stay there. Click here for “Capital Campaigns: Inspiring Generosity Through Abundant Vision,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

When Stewardship Means Letting Go
“Discipleship quite often puts us squarely at odds with the way the world works, with the structures of society and the systems of the status quo. Contemporary culture puts great emphasis on “finding oneself,” on self-actualization, and on “looking out for number one.” Jesus, however, says exactly the opposite.” Click here for “When Stewardship Means Letting Go,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here for archived columns.

Peace With God & Creation
In this prescient talk from 1990, the late Pope John Paul II underscored the role faithful people can have in preserving the environment. His call for action takes on particular urgency 18 years later. Click here for “Peace with God & Creation,” posted by the Theology Department of Marquette University.

The Gospel Worldview
“It's not the magical act of giving that makes people cheerful. People who give grudgingly tend to wind up more sour as a result. But people who are cheerful in their faith tend to give generously. There's a tool that transforms grudging people into cheerful givers.” Click here for “The Gospel Worldview,” the essay from last week’s SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter, from web editor Rob Blezard. Click here to read archived essays.

June 9, 2008
Growling at God: Why We Struggle to Give
Here's an inspirational piece that says a lot about why we hold onto our money so tightly. “God asks us to give because He knows it will bring increase in our lives, not only monetarily, but also spiritually as we learn to think less of our own needs and more of others’." Click here for “Growling at God,” from Crosswalk.com.

Stewardship: Dad’s Pencil
With Father’s Day coming this Sunday, this brief essay is timely as well as inspirational. The author draws big lessons from his dad’s simple household rule. Good for a sermon illustration or children's message. Click here for “Dad’s Pencil,” from Christianity Today.

How to maintain the spirit of giving throughout the year, Part 2
Last week we printed Part 1. This segment continues the good advice. "Low offerings. It's a problem almost every church faces at some time in its life. The simple prescription offered by one financial consultant: prayer." Click here for “How to maintain the spirit of giving throughout the year, Part 2,” from Church Central.

The Most Important Question
"What is the DNA of your congregation? What are the avenues that your congregation’s traditions, heritage and faith can travel upon to bring new people to Christ? Every congregation has a strength that can used to build upon; what is that strength in your congregation?" Good advice! Click here for "The Most Important Question," from Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

June 2, 2008
Four Great Texts for Preaching About Money
“I can testify to the challenge American pastors face in preaching on money to history’s wealthiest Christians. Someone has said that the most sensitive nerve in the body is the one going from the heart to the wallet." Click here for “Four Great Texts for Preaching About Money,” from Circuit Rider, the magazine for United Methodist clergy.

Living Stewardship – Every Day
In looking at the lectionary texts for this week, our columnist found herself thinking how her grandmother naturally embodied good stewardship. “No one left her home empty-handed. She’d press a bag of apples, a quart jar of beans or jelly, or some homemade apple half-moon pies into your arms along with a hug and a prayer for your safety.”  Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

How to maintain the spirit of giving throughout the year, Part 1
Talking and educating about financial giving should not be relegated to a few Sundays in October, says this practical how-to resource. Instead it should be woven subtly through your ministry year round. Click here for “How to maintain the spirit of giving throughout the year,” from Church Central.

Father’s Day
Men are the often-overlooked demographic in a church outreach strategy, and yet statistics show that fewer men come to church than women.  Can your church honor the men in the pews this Father’s Day? This resource gives some practical guidance. Click here for “Father’s Day” ideas and resources, from ChristianityToday.com.

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.” Click here for “Poor, dumb critters,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

May 26, 2008
Martin Marty: Nurture Generosity
Generosity, unlike stewardship, has no limits, Martin Marty told a conference. "It's not that you've got to be generous, but you get to be. …It's not haranguing or threatening. It's liberation." Click here for “Nurture generosity,” from Episcopal Life magazine.

Bulletin Insert: Checkbook Theology
Here’s a great way to educate and inspire your congregation about stewardship – a Sunday bulletin insert. This one, available in PDF download, explores how our real beliefs are reflected in our financial records, such as checkbooks, bank statements and credit card bills. Click here for “Checkbook Theology” from the Office of Stewardship Resources in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Safeguards for Handling Church Funds
Many churches don’t think about financial safeguards until after the crisis – maybe a church leader dips into the till or an audit shows money unaccounted for. This practical guide tells you how to tighten up the operation. Click here for “Safeguards for Handling Church Funds,” from Enrichment Journal, the magazine of Assemblies of God.

Hilarious Giving: Debunking Five Tithing Myths
People are extremely resistant to the extremely biblical notion of tithing, and they often fall back on misinformation to justify their resistance. This article gives you some good counterarguments. Click here for “Debunking Five Tithing Myths,” from LifeWay publishing.

Undivided Loyalty
“When Jesus says we cannot serve both God and money in Matthew 6:24, most people draw the wrong conclusion. They believe, then, that it is simply up to us to choose between God and money.” Click here for “Undivided Loyalty,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

May 19, 2008
Stewardship: A Way of Life
“When we recognize that God is the origin of all life, the giver of everything that we have and are, the source of our freedom and giftedness, the healthy person responds by thanking God through prayer, by serving God and God's people through ministry, by sharing our financial resources with those in need.” Thoughtful reading. Click here for “Stewardship: A Way of Life,” by Bishop Robert Morneau of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.

Don’t Worry – Be Faithful
“Like most things in life, happiness is most often a byproduct of dedicated focus and effort. All too often, we humans search for happiness in all the wrong places. We consume to excess, we buy, we eat and drink, and we even try to drug ourselves into a state of contentment.” Click here for “Living Stones,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here for archived columns.

Is Your Church Money Savvy?
“Your ministry work may keep you so busy that you don’t pay much attention to your church’s finances. But money is an important part of your church’s work, because without it, none of that work would be possible.” Good premise for this intelligent article. Click here for “Is Your Church Money Savvy?” From Crosswalk.com.

Leisure a Key to a Balanced, Healthy Life
“Mention "leisure time" and I think of those Corona beer commercials on TV: Lazy, tranquil hours on a deserted beach with no tasks more challenging than slicing limes and removing bottle caps.  But for non-vacation weeks, leisure shouldn’t be neglected.” Click here for “Leisure: A Key to a Balanced Life,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

May 12, 2008
Sluggish Economy Increases Financial Pressure for Church Leaders
The title states the obvious for many church leaders who are dealing with decreased giving as a result of their people dealing with rising prices and slowing employment. Here are some ideas for coping. Click here for “Sluggish Economy Increases Financial Pressure for Church Leaders,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Whose Money is it Anyway?
It’s for teens, but anybody can benefit from this commonsense article about money. “Most of us have an upside-down view of money. We figure the money we have is ours; God's money is just the portion we put in the collection basket.” Click here for “Whose Money is it Anyway?” From Ignite Your Faith magazine.

How to Help Your Church Overcome a Slump in Summer Offerings
Summer is only weeks away, and many church leaders dread the slowdown in cash flow.  This article offers five things to DO and five things NOT to do to cope. Good ideas. Click here for “How to Help Your Church Overcome a Slump in Summer Offerings,” from Maximum Generosity.

Stewardship Lessons from $3-a-gallon Gasoline
“It's an observation that goes to the heart of stewardship values: People grouse about paying a little more for something they need, but they gladly open their wallets and surrender their credit cards for grossly overpriced stuff that they want. Does this sound familiar?” Click here for “Stewardship Lessons,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

May 5, 2008
Stewardship Strategies for Local Churches
OK, here is a “Stewardship 101” type of resource that identifies key points and issues for any congregation to assess where they are in stewardship, where they should be – and how to get there. Good stuff. Click here for Stewardship Strategies for Local Churches, from the United Methodist Church’s Detroit Annual Conference.

Stewardship Notes from the Road
“Going on vacation doesn’t mean you leave stewardship issues at home. If anything, vacation time means facing even more decisions about use of one’s resources and care of God’s good creation. Does one fly and purchase carbon offsets, take a train, or drive and cry at the rising cost of gas? Does one stay with relatives and friends or book a hotel?” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Five Components of Congregational Stewardship
This simple resource is the kind of thing you can tape above your desk or put on your fridge with a magnet. You can refer to it to stay focused. Simple. Direct. Informative. Click here for “Five Components of Congregational Stewardship,” from the LaCrosse [Wis.] Area Synod, ELCA.

Website: Christian Ecology Link
From the United Kingdom comes an interesting website put together by Christians devoted to doing something about the environmental crisis. Here you’ll find tips, free articles for a parish newsletter, as well as research, inspiration and links. Check it out. Click here for “Christian Ecology Link.”

Forty Years Later, ‘Population Bomb’ Still Ticking
“Since 1968 three things have come true: One, there are almost twice as many people on the globe; two, the planet is showing signs of great stress from human activity; and, three, there will be more and more people vying for the same resources in decades to come.” Click here for “The Real It!,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

April 28, 2008
Ecology, Justice and Theology: Beyond the Preliminary Skirmishes
Back when the environmental movement was young – and taking a lot of heat from all sides  -- the Rev. H. Paul Santmire weighed in with a theological perspective. Santmire, who is now one of the leading voices in environmental theology. His words from 1976 still speak to us, maybe especially because the environmental movement is still taking heat from all sides. Click here for “Ecology, Justice and Theology,” from Religion Online.

Appetite Control
“Today I felt really great – powerful, centered, spiritual, joyful -- and I know why. I fasted. I always feel great after I’ve fasted. But it had been so long, I forgot how invigorating it can be to go 30 hours or so without nutrition.” Click here for “Appetite Control,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

Gospel Based Discipleship
Here’s a great approach to energizing your church from the study group on up. Gospel based discipleship helps Christians understand the call of the Gospel in their own lives, in their own context. With a little creative leading, you can make stewardship a big part of that exploration. Click here for Gospel Based Stewardship, from Stewardship Resources of the Episcopal Church.

Coaching Your Leaders
"It’s the time of the year when your new leadership team members have had a little exposure to their goals and challenges and need some guidance to achieve what you would like to see happen.” It’s precisely here when your leaders can lose heart. Here are three ways to energize them and keep them on task. Click here for “Coaching Your Leaders,” from Tuck Aaker, stewardship columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

A Call to Stewardship Arms
Dick Towner’s provocatively titled essay is built on a provocative premise. “We live in a very materialistic environment. Webster's definition of materialism
is, ‘The belief that everything can be explained by physical matter.’ That is a theological statement. … It is nothing less than a competing theology with a god called money.” Read on! Click here for “A Call to Stewardship Arms,” from Today’s Children’s Ministry.

April 21, 2008
Saving Our World and Serving the Lord
For your Earth Sunday Celebration (or Rogation Sunday, or Seedtime Blessing Sunday), challenge your young people with this handy discussion/study guide on how people of faith can and should embrace care for the earth. Good material for disciples of all ages. Click here for “Saving the World and Serving the Lord,” from FaithLens, the weekly youth resource from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

We Can’t Afford Not To
How much of your congregation’s budget goes to paying salaries for staff? When things are tight, does your church consider reducing staff or not hiring? Here is some wisdom to help you think things through. Click here for “We Can’t Afford Not To,” from Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Do You Know Where Your Church’s Money Is?
Most every church has some money put aside for investment purposes – or even just a rainy day. But how many churches have a well thought out investment policy to guide the use of those funds, so that the church is going to get the most out of those funds? This resource will helpyou get started. Click here for “Do You Know Where Your Church’s Money Is?” From YourChurch magazine.

Lazy Stewardship’s Best Teacher
“A tight income forces a person to live simply.  Everyday luxuries, such as dining in a restaurant, taking the kids to a movie or indulging in a new Music CD, are simply out of the question.” Click here for “Lazy Stewardship’s Best Teacher,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

April 14. 2008
Planet Earth Sunday
Do something special to celebrate creation this spring. Here are some wonderful liturgies you can adapt for use in your congregation that will help connect members to the seasons and cycles of creation. Click here for resources for “Planet Earth Sunday,” from Season of Creation, an Australian website.

Awakening to God’s Call to Earthkeeping
This 50-page resource includes both a Leader Guide and participant materials for use in faith-based small group context: adult or older youth Sunday school, Christian education classes, women’s circles, men’s groups, congregational “green team,” or in a retreat setting. A great resource from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Click here for information on purchase. Click here for a free PDF download.

Stewardship as Discipleship
When revitalization caused four of its five top givers to worship elsewhere, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in North Aurora, IL, faced a challenge. Yet its pastor focused on discipleship, and the church’s giving not only did not go down, it actually increased – and has been growing steadily. Pastor Kathryn North tells how in this essay. Click here for “Stewardship as Discipleship,” and then scroll down to page 11. From “The Epistle,” the magazine of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Living Stones
Our columnist is now a quarter way through her year of buying nothing new, and she keeps receiving new awarenesses. “Every choice we make has impact on others. We are not isolated beings floating around aimlessly on the sea of life.” Click here for “Living Stones,” the latest essay from SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here for archived columns.

Prayer Resources for Stewardship
Planning a stewardship emphasis? Here are some wonderful prayer resources to help – morning prayer, evening prayer and compline (night prayer) with an emphasis on stewardship. Click here for “Prayer Resources for Stewardship, from the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

Acts of Generosity
Reading the second chapter of Acts gives us great insights into stewardship. “There’s something that happens to people when they get the Christian message. When they really get the Gospel. It changes everything. It changes our relationship to one another, and it changes our attachment to money.” Click here for “Acts of Generosity,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

April 7. 2008
Two of Me
“For God's people, the opposite of simplicity is not complexity. It's duplicity,” declares the subhead of his challenging essay. It offers insight and practical advice to any Christian who is juggling multiple demands in faith, work and family (and who isn’t?). Click here for “Two of Me,” from Leadership Journal.

John Wesley: The Use of Money
Here’s a brilliant sermon from the founder of Methodism – and one of Christianity’s brightest souls. Wesley expounds on his oft-quoted (and misunderstood) maxim that when it comes to wealth, a Christian should make all he or she can, and give all he or she can. Good reading! Click here for “The Use of Money” from the Global Ministries Board of the United Methodist Church.

Tithing – Is That Still Around?
In this challenging essay, stewardship specialist and author Eugene Grimm finds inspiration about tithing from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. He finds they have application to Christian giving and tithing. Click here for “Tithing – Is That Still Around? From Grimm’s website, www.stewardshipconnection.com.

A Bicycling Pastor Models Good Stewardship
In the community where a colleague serves, congregation members see him riding his bike everywhere.  “The pastor is making a statement and also setting excellent examples of good stewardship on a number of points.” Click here for “Bicycling Pastor Models Good Stewardship,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition of our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

March 31. 2008
10 Suggestions for Effective Stewardship Preaching
The first one is Be Bold: “Boldness is the only way to address money and giving. We apologize3 far too much for stewardship sermons.” Wow! How’s THAT for good advice. Read on for more about boldness and nine other great tips. Click here for “10 Suggestions for Effective Stewardship Preaching,” from Circuit Rider, the magazine for clergy in the United Methodist Church.

Rx for Heartburn
“So, tell me, do you experience heartburn? I certainly hope that you do! No, of course, I’m not talking about the kind of heartburn that sends you rummaging in the medicine cabinet for Prilosec or Pepcid. I’m talking about the kind of heartburn that Cleopas and his companion experienced on the Emmaus Road when they met Jesus.” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

The Illusion of Congregational ‘Happiness’
Many look at the church with a “cruise ship”– everybody’s must be having a good time and every complaint is attended to. But most of the time that leads to trouble. Here is an article that offers practical alternatives to chasing down and fixing complaints. Click here for “The Illusion of Congregational ‘Happiness’.” From the Congregational Resource Center of the Alban Institute.

Easter! Now that was a Sabbath
“Nowadays the mantle of specialness that used to mark Sunday has diminished considerably. Even those of us who wish to keep the Sabbath Day holy can find the world's busy-ness creeping into our Sabbath the way that lights from a city can block our view of the stars in the sky.” Click here for “Easter! Now that was a Sabbath,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

March 24, 2008
Earth Day Sunday: The Poverty of Climate Change
Thus year tackle one of our world’s most pressing problems – climate change. Many churches plan a creation-centered worship in the spring, so why not have an Earth Day Sunday. The Eco-Justice Program offers a comprehensive free resource, with bulletin inserts, backgrounders, Bible Studies. Lots of good stuff on the theme. Click here for “The Poverty of Climate Change,” from the National Council of Churches of Christ Eco Justice Program. Requires free registration. While your there, check out the other wonderful free materials.

Equipping the Believers as Stewards
This weighty and informative essay gives you the whole scope of the challenge facing Stewardship Committees. Informative reading that can help your congregation plan effectively. Click here for “Equipping the Believers as Stewards,” posted by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.

A Gift to God
“Many pastors and lay leaders have the notion that if they make a point of asking for those gifts to come from the top of people’s income or paychecks, they are going to “turn them off,” and they won’t give as much. That’s just not true!” says columnist Tuck Aaker. In fact, giving is something that needs to be taught by leaders and learnd by members. Click here for “A Gift to God,” from Stewardship Now, the column at ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Are You Dangerously Tired?
OK, pastors and church leaders. Here’s a good question for the days after Holy Week. It has everything to do with your personal stewardship as one leading a congregation. “Dangerous tired is an atmospheric condition of the soul that is volatile and portends the risk of great destruction. It is a chronic inner fatigue accumulating over months (and sometimes years) that doesn't always manifest itself in physical exhaustion.” Click here for “Are You Dangerously Tired?” From Building Church Leaders magazine.

The New Commandment
Maundy Thursday teaches us many things. “Knowing his time was running out, Jesus spent time with the ones he loved the most. He shared a meal with them and modeled servanthood by doing the most lowly job on the “to do” list of a household servant: Washing someone else’s feet.” Click here for “The New Commandment,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

March 17, 2008
Easter Messages:
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
“The death of Jesus shows no partiality.  It was for all nations and all people -- for them, for you, for me.  Your life is now with Christ.  In baptism you have died.  Hidden with Christ, no longer entombed in grief, your life carries the promise of glory.” Click here for the Easter Message from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
“We are beginning to be aware of the ways in which our lack of concern for the rest of creation results in death and destruction for our neighbors. We cannot love our neighbors unless we care for the creation that supports all our earthly lives. We are not respecting the dignity of our fellow creatures if our sewage or garbage fouls their living space.” Click here for the Easter Message from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church U.S.A.

Salvation Army General Shaw Clifton
“Who among us does not need healing? Which of us is perfectly whole? Where is the one with no need of a Saviour? The first step toward healing is to recognise our need. Yet how often our pride gets in the way and we struggle on wounded, our vitality quietly seeping away and our effectiveness for the Kingdom compromised.” Click here for the Easter Message from the general of the Salvation Army.

Discipleship: The Challenge of Staying Focused
Holy Week is a busy time for pastors and laypeople alike. Is it too busy? “It’s Holy Week, I thought to myself. What about walking with Jesus during this time? What about prayer and preparation? Doesn’t that matter?” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

The Weight of Our Decisions
“Watch any old TV show or movie and it’s apparent just how “plus-size” we have gotten. The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that since 1980 obesity among adults has more than doubled from 15 percent of the population to the current level – about a third of the population! And everybody else is bigger, too. As one who battles daily to keep my weight down, I know it’s not easy.” Click here for “The Weight of Our Decisions,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

March 10, 2008
Tithing: Law of God or Gift of God (Part 2)
Here’s the second part of David Bell’s essay on the controversial issue of tithing. (We highlighted the first part several weeks ago.) “God offers us a different perspective on giving. It is not one of last resort and compounded with guilt, but one filled with abundance, freedom, and joy.” Click here to read part 2 of “Tithing,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship. Click here for Part 1.

Stewardship as a Ministry in the Local Church
This article discusses the potential for stewardship as a discipleship opportunity. “Many churches and organizations are discovering that these are exciting days for stewardship ministries. The resources that God has placed in the hands of His people to meet ministry needs are more than we could ever ask or think.” Good reading. Click here for “Stewardship as a Ministry in the Local Church, from Enrichment Journal, a publication of Assemblies of God.

Powerpoint: Stewardship 101
This creative Powerpoint presentation puts stewardship ministry into the context not only of discipleship but also congregational life. Although it is probably too specific to its own context to be used in your church, it can inspire and guide your own efforts to craft a Powerpoint presentation for your congregation. Click here for “Stewardship 101,” from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

A ‘Floor’ for Personal Giving
Entering a second year of automatic, electronic giving, how’s it working out? Pretty Well. “Back in the days when I – gasp! – wrote weekly checks, I was always getting behind. So then by the end of the year “making up” for six or seven week’s worth of contributions exacted a very heavy toll.” Click here for “A ‘Floor’ for Personal Giving,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

March 3, 2008
Christian Stewardship in Light of Theology of the Cross
Where does one look for insight into Christian stewardship? Right on the cross, where Jesus emptied himself for us and gave away everything. “Through the lens of the theology of the cross, we recognize that all we have, even life itself, comes from the pure grace and generous mercy of God,” says the Rev. Michael Cooper-White, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, in this provocative essay. Click here for “Christian Stewardship in Light of Theology of the Cross. Click here for a Spanish version, “Mayordomía Cristiana a la Luz de La Teología de la Cruz.”

Almsgiving: A Papal Lenten Message
As a Lenten discipline that is good to practice anytime, Pope Benedict XVI suggests almsgiving to help Christians fight the temptation to turn money into an idol. “Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness,” Benedict says in a message. Click here for “Almsgiving,” posted on The Vatican website.

Can These Bones Live?
The Sunday’s lectionary reading from Ezekiel has special meaning for residents of the Upper Midwest who have been dealing with population decline and other problems. “Yes, those North Dakota “dry bones” not only stood up and rattled around, but they also gave witness to the same hopeful spirit that breathed in the first homesteaders, that this spirit is still alive and well.” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

The Real IT!
“Spiritual emptiness. It's the human race's number one problem - the root cause of war, addiction, crime, oppression, greed, gluttony, selfishness and on and on.” Click here for “The Real It!,” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

February 25, 2008
Why the Devil Takes Visa
If you read only ONE article on stewardship this Lent, then read this one. The subtitle says it all: “A Christian response to the triumph of consumerism.” In this classic essay, Rodney Clapp discusses the history of Western economics and the emergence of the current consumer culture that includes the “deification of dissatisfaction.” A lot to take in. Digest it. Savor it. Click here for “Why the Devil Takes Visa,” from ChristianityToday

Finding Positive Solutions
Stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker says too many congregation members think of the church “budget” too narrowly. “The budget is an important tool in helping the congregation grow, but --- that the real goal is the mission and the focus has to be on strengthening the ministries to bring Christ into more lives and reaching out to help others.” Click here for “Finding Positive Solutions,” by Tuck Aaker, from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Tithing: Law of God or Gift of God (Part 1)
Probably no other concept is so controversial – or so misunderstood in Christian Stewardship. This article attempts to clear the air a bit. “Tithing becomes a benchmark for the modern-day Christian. Since few regular worship attenders have achieved the giving mark of tithing, how might pastors and church leaders encourage congregants to strive to tithe?”  Good reading, with helpful links. Click here to read “Tithing,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Plant a Tree at Easter
How about celebrating new life for the earth on Easter by planting a tree? It’s not a new idea, but one that has new urgency because of all the new data showing that global warming is even worse than scientists thought. Click here for “Plant a Tree at Easter,” posted on the website of the Green Belt Movement.

February 18, 2008
Crumbs from the Table: Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman

The story is one of the most moving in the Gospels -- a woman denied a blessing from Jesus argues that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table (Mark 7:24-30).. This two-part Bible study is great for exploring the stewardship implications either in a group in your personal devotion. Click here for Part 1, "A Feast of Crumbs." Click here for Part 2, "Crossing the Boundaries." From Women of the ELCA.

Ex-Lucas-Libris
In her year of simplifying her life, our columnist faced a perplexing problem: What about the books? As part of my make-do pledge, I find that I’m also questioning the value and use of items I presently possess. Staring at shelf after shelf of beautiful, bountiful books provides an eye-opening experience." Click here for “Ex-Lucas-Libris," from The Rev. Sharron R. Lucas.

The Stewardship of Our Talents
We know that stewardship involves the best use of our time, talents and treasures. But for the devout Christian, it's not just using our talents that's required. "We are called to not just maintain and protect our talents, but we are to develop, grow, and increase them. Sometimes this requires measured risk taking." Click here for "The Stewardship of Our Talents," from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Kokomo, Ind.

No Hot Water: A First-World Problem
“Pity me! My hot-water heater 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." Click here for “No Hot Water," from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.

February 11, 2008
Energy Guide for Churches
Right when you need it most – a free 48-page guide to help your church save money by lowering energy use! The State of Michigan Energy Office prepared this guide, which has lots of tips and info to get your church going! Click here for “Energy Guide for Churches,” from Michigan’s Energy Office.

Spiritual Consumerism’s Upside
“Why church shopping may not be so bad,” is the subtitle of this thought-provoking essay that explores why it is healthy for people to have options when it comes to choosing a worship community. Click here for “Spiritual Consumerism’s Upside,” from ChristianityToday.

Leaders Notes to Biblical Stewardship Principles
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has made a good resource even better by providing Leaders Notes to their Biblical Stewardship Principles. The Leaders Notes will help your congregation hold classes or workshops to explore the eight principles. Click here for the page that will give you both the Biblical Stewardship Principles and the Leaders Notes. From the Stewardship Resources of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

How about a ‘Financial Ash Wednesday’?
“We would begin by confession, acknowledging that we love our money and possessions more than we love God. After all, when we look at our credit card balances and checkbook, we find that we spend more on dining out than we do giving to our church.” Click here for “How About a ‘Financial Ash Wednesday’?” from SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.

February 4, 2008
‘Stewardship U’: Basic lessons
Here is a wonderful series of columns that cover all the basics of stewardship. Written by Eric Hasselhorst, director of stewardship for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dodge City, Kansas.

The Gift of Community
“We are bound together, you and I. Each one of us is wonderfully and uniquely created by God with gifts and talents, skills and abilities, failings and frailties. But we are not alone, nor are we designed to be alone.” Click here for this latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron R. Lucas.

Annual Financial Campaign Suggestions
“The most effective, spiritually centered annual financial campaigns consistently focus the core of their programs on the joyful transformation of the giver in giving, and not on the need of the church to receive.” This helpful article helps you sort out the options out there. Click here for “Annual Financial Campaign Suggestions,” from the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

7 Non-Negotiables of Christian Stewardship
Starting any kind of stewardship effort, you’d better have a foundation of good principles. That’s what this article gives you – from number one, “God owns everything,” to number seven, “God Blesses the giver in proportionate measure.” Click here for “7 Non-Negotiables of Christian Stewardship,” housed at Luther Seminary’s Stewardship for the 21st Century.

This Lent, Practice Stewardship as a Discipline
“There’s nothing wrong with petty sacrifice for Lent. But in older times, Lent was a somber and penitential time of purification and spiritual journeying from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday in order to prepare Christians for the glory of Easter.” Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

January 28, 2008
Stewardship Bible Studies
This resource is all you need to conduct seven Bible studies on diverse issues of stewardship – from stewardship of creation to personal commitment. Good for small-group discussion. Click here for “Stewardship Bible Studies,” from the Methodist Church of the Great Britain.

Talk About Money in Your Church
Need to raise the issue of financial stewardship in your congregation? Go for it! This resource gives you FIVE excellent reasons why you should. This is a bonus resource as well – explanations of each of the five reasons has a link to a video segment giving you more. Click here for “Talk About Money in Your Church,” from BuildingChurchLeaders.

The 9.5 Theses of Stewardship
Here are some interesting and creative principles to guide your own, and your congregation’s, stewardship ideas. Good discussion starter for your next council or stewardship committee meeting. Click here for “The 9.5 Theses of Stewardship,” from Gary Moore’s The Financial Seminary.

Living in the House of Love
With the war in Iraq war dragging on five years, recession looming and a presidential election under way, people are more fearful now than ever. How does that affect our people’s financial stewardship? Plenty. Using Henri Nouwen’s image that discipleship calls us to leave the house of fear and enter God’s house of love, this article gives commonsense ideas for reaching people in fear. Click here for “living in the House of Love,” in Circuit Rider magazine, the publication for United Methodist clergy.

Stewardship Lessons of the Depression
An 84-year-old member of my congregation has the right attitude about possessions and stewardship. Like many of her generation, she learned them during the Great Depression, and like many of her generation she never forgot them. Her observations have much to teach the succeeding “over-indulged” generations. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

January 21, 2008
Faith and Money
Here’s an extremely concise and authoritative resource that pulls together a lot of stewardship concepts and plans. Put together by Dan Hotchkiss, a senior consultant for the respected Alban Institute, Faith and Money provides in-depth background that help provide firm ground for your congregation’s stewardship efforts. Click here for “Faith and Money,” from the Congregational Resource Guide

The Corrosion of Consumerism
People may be coming to your church, but are they coming as disciples or consumers? “The ‘consuming’ church springs from the soil of American culture. In contrast, the ‘transforming’ church grows out of the transforming energy of God's creativity.” Interesting observations! Click here for “The Corrosion of Consumerism,” from Your Church magazine.

The Power of Entrepreneurial Faith
It’s the dream of every stewardship committee and pastor serving struggling congregations: Sunday by Sunday more new people fill the pews – and the collection plates – to bring stability then growth. Sounds great, but how do you get there?” Click here to read other archived columns.

Website: Christian Simple Living
“Living Simply … as Christ Intended.” That bold motto greets visitors to the home page of this countercultural website. It’s counter to our prevailing culture that lifts up consumption as the highest value. Inspirational, daring and challenging, this website is a must for those who want to push the stewardship envelope. Click here for Christian Simple Living.

January 14, 2008
100 Stewardship Ideas and Verses
Here is a resource that will jump start your creativity when it comes to stewardship for your congregation. It lists sound ideas about stewardship and then backs them up with quotations from the Bible. How can you go wrong? Click here for “100 Stewardship Verses and Ideas,” from the Christian Stewardship Association.

Of Storage Bags, Shower Curtains, Stewardship and Stuff
Our columnist is learning much just in her second week of a year of buying nothing new. “To be an effective steward of all this stuff, I’m taking a four-pronged approach. I’m beginning by going through closets, drawers, and boxes to see just what lives here with us. Believe me, it’s a daunting process!” Click here for “Of Storage Bags, Shower Curtains, Stewardship and Stuff,” from SOLI stewardship writer Sharron Lucas.

Cultivating Church Health
In this article Rick Warren, the “Purpose-Driven” pastor, explains that balance is one often-overlooked key to church health. Click here for “Cultivating church health,” posted on Building Church Leaders.

A real step forward
The beginning of the year is a great time to stir things up and get things going again, says Tuck Aaker, stewardship columnist. “Consider beginning a Discipleship Training course for some of your people. Begin with your leadership and then add as many as possible.” Click here for “A Real Step Forward,” from ELCA Stewardship Resources.

January 7, 2008
Qualities of The Christian Steward
What does it take to be good steward? If you don’t know, there’s no way you can develop those qualities in either yourself or those in your church. This handy resource gives you a dozen characteristics – and a Bible verse that goes along with each one. Click here for “Qualities of a Christian Steward,” from the Center for Christian Stewardship, United Methodist Church.

Principles Worth Remembering
“We are people that won’t change until we are asked to do it! We can go out and pay $30,000 for a new car and think we got a real deal --- and then put $20 in our envelope for church --- because that’s what we have always done.” Click here “Principles Worth Remembering,” from Tuck Aaker, columnist for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Three Kinds of Congregations
When it comes to how churches approach stewardship, they tend to fall into three categories, each with its own relative weakness or strength. Know where your congregation is and you can set a new course. Click here to get to the download page, and then scroll down to “Three Kinds of Congregations,” from the New Jersey Synod, ELCA.

This Year Pray for Your Own Epiphany
“Today we live in a world that is facing many pressures that are unprecedented in history. Now more than ever is the time for us to be a little more like the Magi and a lot less like the rest of humanity at the time of Jesus' birth.” Click here to read other archived columns.

Christian Stewardship: What God Expects from Us
Forget about stewardship being an option!  Stewardship is at the heart of the job description God gave human beings for creation. This resource really puts things into perspective. Click here for “What God Expects from Us,” from the Catholic Educators Resource Center.