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December 28, 2009

Pray First!

Minneapolis Area SynodThe best way to start any stewardship campaign or emphasis is in prayer. The Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has posted several stewardship prayers on their website. Included is a prayer for children and a stewardship prayer service. Click here for stewardship prayers, and begin the new year in conversation with your Creator—the giver of all good things.

Lectionary Reflection: Sing Your Own Song

Sharron Riessinger LucasThis week's gospel lesson from Luke contains the beautiful song of praise that the young, pregnant Mary sings in response to Elizabeth's blessing. We can learn a lot from such a refreshing song of praise from the heart. Click here for "Stewards of the Good News and Great Joy," from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Good Stewardship Means Sharing (Resources, too!)

Association of Lutheran Resource CentersThe Association of Lutheran Resource Centers offers a handy page of links to various stewardship resources. On this table of links, you'll find everything from Time and Talent Surveys to alternative gifts to sermon aids to pledge cards. It's a cornucopia of materials for all to use and share; click here to get started.

Tell the Christmas Rescue Story!

Rob BlezardGod loves us so much that the very Sovereign of the Universe staged a daring rescue, arriving in person to save us from sin, death and the power of Satan. And God did it with boldness and dramatic revelation about the nature of the Divine Heart. Click here for "Tell the Christmas Rescue Story," a classic column by 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.

December 21, 2009

The Need for Dependence: Rebuilding Community

Bill McKibbenAt Christmas we recognize our utter dependence on God. Out of deep love for us, God entered our world as a tiny infant who was entirely dependent upon Mary, Joseph and the community. In Jesus' world family and community were of tremendous importance. Today, our society is so fast-paced and fragmented that we are losing much of the good that community brings. Bill McKibben addresses this in a well-crafted, thought-provoking essay. Click here for "Where Have all the Joiners Gone?" originally published in Orion Magazine.

Charting a Path to Happiness? Include These Six Paths

RealAgeResearchers know that happiness is a key component of good health, reduced risk of disease, and overall well-being. All too often we try to find happiness in all the wrong things. We seek more money, we buy and consume at alarming rates, and we medicate ourselves in hopes of making life seem better. Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz outline six paths to experiencing happiness, and you won’t find the answer by swiping your VISA card. Click here for an exploratory journey toward happiness courtesy of RealAge.

One Family's Experience Teaching Generosity

Money MattersClick here to read about one family's attempts to teach their two young daughters about generosity on a holiday shopping outing to the local mall. They discover they have much to learn about generosity from their children. You'll appreciate Michael McNeilly's candor and ideas for fostering stewardship for the next generation in this article from Money Matters Online, from Crown Financial Ministries.

Barna Group: The State of Mainline Denominations

Barna GroupFrom aging clergy to declining membership, the Mainline Protestant denominations have undergone dramatic changes face enormous changes as we enter the second decade of the new century. These are some of the findings that the respected Barna Group discovered when it examined the health of these once-dominant religious groups. Helpful insights! Click here for "The State of Mainline Denominations," from the Barna Group.

Rick Warren: 'How to Invest Your Life'

Rick WarrenSure, you can read The Wall Street Journal and talk to your financial advisor for tips on what to do with your money, but what about investing your life? It is, after all, the most important God-given asset we will ever have. Rick Warren, the "Purpose-Driven" pastor, outlines seven principles that will give you a good return. Click here for "How to Invest Your Life," from Pastors.com.

Lectionary Reflection: Giving the Gift and Sharing the Grace

Sarron Reissinger LucasAnother Christmas, and the pews are once again are filled with faces: the familiar, the seldom-seen and the new. Everyone has a different story, but we all gather to receive and share God’s greatest gift to us. Click here for "Giving the Gift and Sharing the Grace," from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Freed from the Tyranny of Scarcity Thinking

WCCIn his Christmas message when he was still head of the World Council of Churches, Konrad Raiser found a simple analysis that explained much of the world's ills. "Where money rules, almost everything becomes scarce. When power and even justice can be bought, there is little left for those who are poor. Here, too, there are only winners and losers." Click here for "Freed from the Tyranny of Scarcity Thinking," from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns. Click here to subscribe.

December 14, 2009

Stewardship Principles from Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Redeemer Presbyterian ChurchWhether your congregation worships thousands (like Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City) or has 50 on any given Sunday, you will find solid ideas and excellent resources from the stewardship section of Redeemer’s website. Everything from a series of six short videos to stewardship sermons by the Rev. Timothy Keller to Bible studies, to a pledge card and giving chart are available on this user-friendly site. While you’re there, check out the wonderful work that Redeemer is doing and be inspired for spreading the Good News and being the Good Samaritan in your own context. Click here for Stewardship from Redeemer Presbyterian—“Seeking to Renew the City Socially, Spiritually, and Culturally.”

Lectionary Reflection: Sing Your Own Song

Sharron Riessinger LucasThis week’s gospel lesson from Luke contains the beautiful song of praise that the young, pregnant Mary sings in response to Elizabeth’s blessing. We can learn a lot from such a refreshing song of praise from the heart. Click here for “Stewards of the Good News and Great Joy,” from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

'Discovering Stewardship' Webcast

WebcastMost of us missed the Florida-Bahamas Synod’s two-part webcast on “Discovering Stewardship,” but it’s now available on its website for all the rest of us to see. Author and stewardship expert Rev. Charles “Chick” Lane talks about money stewardship and raises some very challenging issues. Excellent viewing or listening! Click here for “Discovering Stewardship,” from the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA.

’Tithing,’ by the Man Who Took the Bible Literally for a Year

A.J. JacobsA.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically, explores some thoughts about giving and the practice of tithing in this recent article from O, The Oprah Magazine. While Jacobs is a self-proclaimed agnostic, he nonetheless cites the importance of giving and of teaching one’s children to be generous. Click here to read his article “How Much is Too Much to Give to Charity?”

Finding that Elusive 'Perfect' Gift

Rob BlezardMy experience of shopping for my parents is representative of the gift-giving insanity that takes place every December in our country. We frantically shop for people who really don't need anything and who have already got what they want. Click here for “Finding that Elusive ‘Perfect’ Gift,” 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.

Giving the Gift of Presence

During Advent we’ll be offering a few ideas each week aimed at helping to simplify and focus your celebration—whether it be in the parish or at home. As always, we’d love to hear from you and share you good ideas and traditions. What gives you meaning during the anticipatory season of Advent? As a Christian committed to stewardship, how do you keep Christmas? Drop a note to website editor Rob Blezard. Click here to view more Advent ideas.

Making a List, and Checking it Twice—A List of Traditions, That Is

Christmas CandlesChristmas doesn’t have to be complicated. A few meaningful traditions can bring a family together in powerful ways. Why not take some time with your family and think about traditions that have been important to your family. Maybe you have a tradition of reading the Christmas story from Luke’s gospel before your Christmas Eve family meal. Perhaps you watch It’s a Wonderful Life together or A Christmas Carol. The things that mean the most are often the simplest. Click here for “Christmas Traditions: Unearthing the origins of Yuletide Customs,” by Ted Olson from Christian History magazine.

And Another List of 10 Traditions…

One Green Generation…As long as we’re making lists, be sure to visit One Green Generation and look at Melinda’s entry from last year about her family traditions that have held up across time and space — well, except perhaps the creamed eggs! You’ll also find her suggestions for frugal and fun celebrations including attending worship together, volunteering, redistributing wealth, and playing games. Click here for 10 Simple, Frugal and Fun Holiday Traditions.

Ideas for Teaching Children about Giving at Christmas

GiftAll too often, Christmas means “getting” rather than “giving” for the children in our lives. From making a list for Santa to looking in eager anticipation at the growing mound of colorful presents under the tree, the focus can easily become stuck on “me” rather than “we.” Here’s a short list of good ideas to help children focus on giving at Christmas. Click here for “Christmas: Give the Gift of Giving” by Denise Oliveri.

December 7, 2009

Shrinking the Footprint

While world leaders discuss efforts to combat global warming this week in Copenhagen, the Church of England is working on its own seven-year campaign to reduce significantly the carbon footprint of the church as a whole. The site has all sorts of great resources, both practical and inspirational, to encourage and equip Christian churches everywhere to get going. Click here for “Shrinking the Footprint,” from the Church of England.

Doin’ the Tithe Rap

Looking for something a little different about tithing? Here’s a humorous look at tithing from a trio of “accountants/musicians.” Watch below for a good laugh about a serious subject and check out “The Tithe Rap.” Trust me--you’ll never look at the accounting profession in quite the same way again. Or tithing, for that matter!

Lectionary Reflection: Stewards of the Good News and Great Joy!

We, you and I, are stewards of joy. How wonderful is that? We are tellers of an amazing story and bearers of the best news in the whole wide world! Who wouldn’t be joyful? Talk about a reason for a party! Click here for “Stewards of the Good News and Great Joy,” from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Making Joyful Connections between Advent and Stewardship

Tanya Moxley, a layperson in the Anglican Church of Canada who co-chairs the Stewardship Initiative for the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, offers a wonderful brief reflection for the third Sunday of Advent that considers the joy of being a good steward while also pondering what brings God joy. Just in time for Gaudete Sunday, Moxley’s musings will no doubt bring a smile to your face. Click here for “Advent Musings 3: Joyful Stewardship at Advent” from the Anglican Church of Canada website.

Gratitude Overcomes the Darkness of Entitlement

When my son was just six, he taught me an important lesson about how most people view their possessions. When it comes to their “toys,” most adults are plain childish! Click here for “Gratitude Overcomes the Darkness of Entitlement,” 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.

It’s not too late to make this a Fair Trade Christmas

Thanks to Julie Clawson and Sojourners, here’s a wonderful list of fair trade merchants and links to a host of websites. Julie also covers the Trade as One Campaign and their reminder that “Just One Fair Trade purchase from every American churchgoer this Christmas would lift one million families out of abusive poverty for one whole year.” Isn’t it a wonderful thought that we may choose to celebrate Jesus’ love for this world, still choose carefully a meaningful and ethical gift for loved ones, and at the same time be a part of reducing economic exploitation and oppressive poverty. Click here to explore Julie’s ideas for a Fair Trade Christmas, and be sure to visit the Trade as One website, too.

Stewardship from the Lectionary

From ELCA Stewardship Resources. Looking for a way to put more stewardship into your preaching? Here is a great help—a weekly commentary that highlights stewardship aspects in the weekly lectionary texts.

Giving the Gift of Presence

During Advent we’ll be offering a few ideas each week aimed at helping to simplify and focus your celebration—whether it be in the parish or at home. As always, we’d love to hear from you and share you good ideas and traditions. What gives you meaning during the anticipatory season of Advent? As a Christian committed to stewardship, how do you keep Christmas? Drop a note to website editor Rob Blezard. Click here to view more Advent ideas.

Ideas for a Simple Christmas

Check out the Simple Christmas website created by First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, Missouri. You’ll find everything from budgeting tools to suggestions on how to “reduce and reallocate” holiday spending habits. You’ll also find helpful links, ideas for working with children, and some fine book recommendations. Click here for Simple Christmas from First Baptist Church.

Easy, Inexpensive Gift Ideas

Here’s a website chock-full of ideas for homemade gifts, including candles, baking mixes, scented paper, and decorations. Not only will you find some great gift ideas, but you’ll also create space and time for family activities and shared experience. You’ll even find some great ideas for streamlining your Christmas dinner. Click here for GreenSense—A Simple Christmas.

November 30, 2009

Consider the Charter for Compassion this Advent

If you are looking for a way to spread light in Advent, consider introducing the Charter for Compassion to your congregation or youth group. Originally conceived by Karen Armstrong, the Charter for Compassion seeks to lift up the Golden Rule, something that all major world religious traditions affirm as central to the faith. Click here for more information and resources.

A Quick List to Help Cultivate Congregational Generosity

This short article from Crown Financial Ministries offers several concrete ways to cultivate generosity within the congregation during the holiday season. Many of them you’ve likely seen or thought of before, but it never hurts to rethink and revision ways to practice good stewardship. The article also offers a good reflection on Luke 16 and the story of the rich man and Lazarus by reminding us to see, share, and sow. Click here for “Ideas for Generosity” from Crown Financial Ministries.

Lectionary Reflection - Among the Messengers

The Gospel lessons in Advent tell us of John the Baptizer, who was the messenger who went ahead of Jesus. We, too, are messengers. We are messengers in a long, strong tradition of God-bearers in this world. As followers of The Way and adopted children of God, we are charged with being stewards of the Gospel and for sharing that Good News. Click here for “Among the Messengers,” from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Advent Stewardship Resources from the United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church website offers many good Advent resources for congregations and families. Of particular interest are the Stewardship Nuggets for families dealing with “Extra Ordinary Giving” and “Life Lessons from St. Nicholas.” Check out the one page Advent Calendar coloring page here. To browse all of the resources and links available on the UMC website, click here.

It's Not Up to Us

Whenever we talk amongst ourselves as leaders about what’s best for the church -- whether it is on the congregational, regional or denominational level – we have to remember that our decision-making is limited in very fundamental ways. Click here for “It’s Not Up to Us,” from guest columnist Rev. Larry Iverson, posted in last week’s edition SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns. Click here to subscribe.

Stewardship from the Lectionary

From ELCA Stewardship Resources. Looking for a way to put more stewardship into your preaching? Here is a great help—a weekly commentary that highlights stewardship aspects in the weekly lectionary texts.

Stewardship in 5 Simple Steps

When it comes to figuring out how much to give, most people don’t know where to start. My congregation came up with a five-step plan for our members and included it as the annual “Stewardship Seeds” mailing. Here is not only the five steps, but also a link to the whole package. Use it as inspiration for your own church’s campaign. Click here for “Stewardship in 5 Simple Steps,” 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.

New! "A Stewardship Minute"

A new article every month about Stewardship, from Parish Publishing, LLC.

November 2009: There is an old legend about how the great beasts first learned to live as they were set upon the world by God. Click here to read the rest...

Giving the Gift of Presence

During Advent we’ll be offering a few ideas each week aimed at helping to simplify and focus your celebration—whether it be in the parish or at home. As always, we’d love to hear from you and share you good ideas and traditions. What gives you meaning during the anticipatory season of Advent? As a Christian committed to stewardship, how do you keep Christmas? Drop a note to website editor Rob Blezard.

Celebrating the Sustainable Holiday

Check out Katy Wolk-Stanley’s ideas for celebrating a sustainable holiday at her blog The Non-Consumer Advocate. This post is taken from a talk she gave in Vancouver, Washington, entitled “Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice: Sustainable Holidays.” You’re sure to find some good tips to incorporate that will allow you not only to practice good stewardship, but also to reduce stress and give the gift of presence. While you’re there check out some of her other good ideas. Click here for “Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice: Sustainable Holidays,” from the non-consumer advocate.

Buy Nothing Christmas '09

Even if the idea of a “buy nothing” Christmas seems too far-fetched for you, you’ll want to peruse the Buy Nothing Christmas website for some great ideas for alternative gifts. You’ll find ideas that almost anyone can put together for little or no money that are infused with meaning and goodwill. Click here to view the list of ideas. Buy Nothing Christmas was started by Canadian Mennonites, but many others are catching on. You’ll also find a youth group study kit, downloadable music, and downloadable gift certificates for gifts of presence and time. Click here for a host of buy nothing Christmas ideas.

November 23, 2009

Beyond the Plate: Multiple Funding Options

With society changing rapidly, and with it the way that people give to church, congregations can’t afford to rely solely on weekly offerings for their income. But are there real options? You bet! This article provides some real ideas. Click here for “Beyond the Plate,” from ChurchSolutions magazine.

Tracey Bianchi Tackles Advent

She begins by saying that she’s heard it all before: consume less, love more, give more. Fresh from an Advent planning meeting at her church, Bianchi ruminates about the reason for the season in this well-written essay from the Sojourners website. She points out that we are all complicit in this holiday hoopla; very few of us are immune from the cultural pull of the shopping cart, the steal-of-a-deal, and the glitz of the holiday season. Yet we still need to hear the radical message about the baby boy savior/king who came into our world so that we will be moved to give of our time and talents—to act and express Christmas differently for a hungry and needy world. Click here to read Tracey’s Advent reflection “I’ve Heard it all Before: Consume Less, Love More, Give More.” Yes, Tracey, it does bear repeating!

November 27: Buy Nothing Day

Protest the commercialization of Christmas by participating in “Buy Nothing Day,” the annual campaign to boycott the stores on the biggest shopping day of the year – the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27. It’s just one of the initiatives of Adbusters, a decidedly fun-loving and mischievous anti-consumer movement. Click here to find out about “Buy Nothing Day.”

Stewardship from the Lectionary

From ELCA Stewardship Resources. Looking for a way to put more stewardship into your preaching? Here is a great help—a weekly commentary that highlights stewardship aspects in the weekly lectionary texts.

Lectionary Reflection: Paying Attention

Whatever happened to Advent? “Our culture has filled this beautiful anticipatory season of hopeful waiting with merry clang of silver bells and the lightening of one’s wallet. What happened to waiting, and watching, and hoping? Why must we fill every spare minute?” Click here for “Paying Attention,” from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

An Overlooked Key to Success

“If the Pastor and the lay leaders aren’t ‘out in front’ of the stewardship efforts, there’s very little chance of growth! In spite of the work of the Stewardship Team and its Chair, the program isn’t going to get up and ‘fly’ if the leadership isn’t on board.” Click here for “One Secret of Happiness,” from guest columnist Rev. Larry Iverson, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns. Click here to subscribe.

Stewardship in 5 Simple Steps

When it comes to figuring out how much to give, most people don’t know where to start. My congregation came up with a five-step plan for our members and included it as the annual “Stewardship Seeds” mailing. Here is not only the five steps, but also a link to the whole package. Use it as inspiration for your own church’s campaign. Click here for “Stewardship in 5 Simple Steps,” 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.

New! "A Stewardship Minute"

A new article every month about Stewardship, from Parish Publishing, LLC.

November 2009: There is an old legend about how the great beasts first learned to live as they were set upon the world by God. Click here to read the rest...

Giving the Gift of Presence

During Advent we’ll be offering a few ideas each week aimed at helping to simplify and focus your celebration—whether it be in the parish or at home. As always, we’d love to hear from you and share you good ideas and traditions. What gives you meaning during the anticipatory season of Advent? As a Christian committed to stewardship, how do you keep Christmas? Drop a note to website editor Rob Blezard.

Advent in a Nutshell: Create Your Own Advent Calendar

Advent NutInstead of buying a cardboard, plastic, and chocolate over-packaged throw-away Advent Calendar this year, try making one from repurposed and recycled items. In this version from the Mother Nature Network, empty walnut shells, found ribbon, paper scraps, string, and glue are reworked into a personal and memorable gift and experience. Click here to see how easy it is to start a new tradition without spending or contributing to the flow of new “stuff.”

Make Your Own Repurposed and Recycled Ornaments

Mother Nature NetworkHere are a few ideas for making your own Christmas ornaments that are suitable for a family fun night, a craft party, or a Christian education activity for the Advent season. Using simple materials such as coffee can lids, bottle tops, paper bags, and aluminum cans, you can create unique and simple decorations and create memories at the same time. Click here for DIY Christmas tree ornaments from the Mother Nature Network.

From Christmas Cards to Epiphany Star

Christmas Card StarWondering what to do with all those extra Christmas cards? How about turning them into a “star” for Epiphany? This is a great craft idea that could be used in the sanctuary if made by Sunday school classes, or crafted at home as part of a family night. Not only will it give you one more chance to enjoy the cards and think about the loved ones who sent them to you, but you’ll also be creating something meaningful and being a good steward of resources. Click here for instructions on how to make a Christmas card star from crafter and blogger Jenny Harada.

November 16, 2009

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

Here’s a link to Colin Beavan’s “10 Ways to Change Your Life (Not Just your Light Bulbs),” that appears in the Climate Action, Winter 2010 issue of Yes! Magazine. You may know Colin from his No Impact Man blog, film, and book. He’s also founder of the No Impact Project. While there is no direct religious or denominational link to Beavan’s list, you’ll be pleased to see his emphasis on Sabbath and tithing. Click here for “10 Ways to Change Your Life (Not Just your Light Bulbs).

Will our Children be Stewards?

The Episcopal Church USA offers some excellent stewardship resources, among them this essay about children and stewardship. Included are some specific lessons the author believes children should be taught about stewardship, along with ideas for congregations to incorporate and a good list of resources. Click here for “Will our Children be Stewards?” from the ECUSA Office of Stewardship.

Don't Buy It: Get Media Smart

Nurturing financially savvy children in a consumer culture—it’s a tough task for parents, but it can be done! Here’s one fun resource for children from PBS Kids that’s bound to help with the job. You’ll find a comprehensive, kid-friendly menu that includes sections on advertising tricks, buying smart, entertainment, what you can do, and free stuff. Click here for “Don’t Buy It: Get Media Smart” from PBSKids.org.

Stewardship Sermons

Sermons from SeattleMaster preacher the Rev. Edward Marquart has opened his archives to the rest of us, and it includes 11 specifically on stewardship, relating to texts from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Good reading. Click here for Stewardship Sermons, from Marquart’s Sermons from Seattle.

Lectionary Reflection: 'So You Are a King?'

In this week’s gospel lesson, the disciples are impressed with the imposing façade of Temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus tells them will be destroyed in three days. But then, as now, Jesus must certainly have known that the work of God’s people continues regardless of what happens to the buildings we construct. Click here for “So You Are a King,” from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Stewardship in 5 Simple Steps

When it comes to figuring out how much to give, most people don’t know where to start. My congregation came up with a five-step plan for our members and included it as the annual “Stewardship Seeds” mailing. Here is not only the five steps, but also a link to the whole package. Use it as inspiration for your own church’s campaign. Click here for “Stewardship in 5 Simple Steps,” 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 9, 2009
Attributes of a Biblically Generous Church
Recent financial trends in the United States reveal a paradox: Although income has risen dramatically, people are giving to church less and less. Clearly there is a disconnect between the attitudes of people towards money and consumption on the one hand, and generosity and giving on the other. Church leaders may help by embracing what it means to be a generous church. Click here for "Attributes of a Biblically Generous Chuch," from the Center for Christian Stewardship of the United Methodist Church.

Impatient Optimists Offer 'Living Proof'
Through their foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates, are doing amazing things around the globe. Among the world’s wealthiest couples, the Gates are giving back to the world financially and through gifts of time, expertise, and influence. One of their latest initiatives, The Living Proof Project, shares good stories of changed lives, where people have made a real difference. The Gates offer the faith community a powerful witness AND opportunity to spread good news of what sharing resources can accomplish in this beautiful and broken world. If your day has been full of bad news, gloom, and despair, click here to find some inspiration (and, hey, maybe a sermon illustration or two).

Your Congregation's People Power
Instead of looking at what your congregation does NOT have in the way of tools and resources for ministry, ELCA Pastor Catherine A. K. Mode suggests looking at your people power. “Every church — even a struggling new start or a 125-year-old declining church — has people. And those people who walk though our doors, sit in our pews, and live in our communities have tremendous gifts to share,” she says. Click here to read Mode’s inspiring article, “Newcomers: God’s Gift to your Church,” from Net Results: New Ideas for Growing Churches, a publication of 21st Century Strategies.

Lectionary Reflection: It's the Inside that Matters
In this week’s gospel lesson, the disciples are impressed with the imposing façade of Temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus tells them will be destroyed in three days. But then, as now, Jesus must certainly have known that the work of God’s people continues regardless of what happens to the buildings we construct. Click here for “Something Stinks, from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

TckTckTck Campaign for Climate Change
You heard about 350.org, and the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (Dec. 7-18). Here’s one more resource for your congregation, youth program, or personal stewardship efforts. TckTckTck works with 36 partner groups, both faith-based and secular, to educate, spread the word, and alert world leaders about our world’s precarious environmental reality. You will find a host of links, tools, and information that you can use. One news link will take you to an article from Grist Magazine entitled “Religion Gets Behind Fight Against Climate Change.” Click here to visit the TckTckTck web site.

Stewardship—A Simple Explanation
Looking for a simple explanation of stewardship to use with your church board, stewardship committee, or youth? Hope Associates, Inc. offers a concise page that covers the basics: a brief definition and a quick overview of time, talent, and treasure. Click here for “Stewardship—A Simple Explanation” from Hope Associates.

One Secret of Happiness
His body squashed like a bug when a semi slammed into his tiny Ford Escort, Don Piper spent his famous “90 Minutes in Heaven”(the title of his best-selling book) before returning to earth for years of grueling rehabilitation, constant pain and a lifetime of severe physical limitation. Suffering brought him to despair, until a simple technique helped him find joy again. We all can learn from it. Click here for “One Secret of Happiness,” 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 2, 2009
Rediscovering Church Hospitality
Have you ever visited a church and felt completely unwelcome? Are you wondering what it takes to thaw the “frozen chosen”? This resource raises some good questions and offers concrete suggestions. Consider using this in a church council devotional or small group study. Click here for Rediscovering Church Hospitality from the Building Church Leaders e-newsletter.

84-Year-Old Cyclist: ‘Whatever You Can Do, Keep Doing It’
All of us can be better stewards of our time, resources, and talent to make this world a better place and spread the good news. Here’s an inspiring story about an 84-year-old woman who rides her one-speed bicycle 150 miles each year to benefit Muscular Dystrophy.  Click here to read “Biking 150 Miles for a Cause—in a dress and heels” from CNN. Then, once you’re Eiko’s story, go out and find your own way to spread some good in the world.

A Prayer for the Earth
Here’s a resource congregations may wish to use in the weeks leading up to the Copenhagen gathering on climate change on Dec. 6. The prayer was written by Brian McLaren (speaker and author) and Tim Costello (World Vision Australia). Longer and shorter versions and liturgical forms are available, too. Click here to access these prayers on the Sojourners God’s Politics blog roll.

Lectionary Reflection: No Pain, No Gain: Stewardship Lessons from a Track Coach
This week's stories of generous widows should give us all pause for thought. “When’s the last time you or I shared so much of what we possess that we went to bed hungry at night or did without a coat and a pair of shoes? Yes, I thought so.”  Click here for “No Pain, No Gain,” from columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Join the Advent Conspiracy: A Steward-Oriented Approach to the Season
This is one resource you will find exciting if you are interested in presenting, promoting, and practicing a steward’s lifestyle in your congregation. Centered around four principles: worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all, this program believes that “Christmas can still change the world.” You’ll find graphics, bulletin inserts, sample sermons, children’s ministry curriculum, newsletter materials, downloadable video and podcast materials. Click here to learn more about and join the Conspiracy.

Our Need to Give
Talk about stewardship often fails to go to the heart of the matter. “In all our discussions of needs and wants, we never seem to talk about our need for God. For too many of us, a relationship with God has been relegated to the ‘wants’ category.” Click here for “Our Need to Give,” by the Rev. Dana Reardon, from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter. Click here to read archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

October 26, 2009
Videos: Free to be Faithful
The Colorado Episcopal Foundation and Episcopal Diocese of Colorado worked with Nathan Dungan, founder of ShareSaveSpend, to produce four videos on stewardship. The videos explore (and expose) the culture of consumerism and the spiritual poverty it creates. Really good stuff. Watch these on the web! From the Colorado Episcopal Foundation.

A Cure for the Chronic Overspender
Developing good financial stewardship habits is usually a process. Spendster.org is a wonderful resource for anyone who struggles with impulse buying and overspending. The site features a blog where individuals can share stories and interact with others, videos, various calculators, and helpful articles. Visit spendster.org and start improving your stewardship or help a friend or family member.

Stewardship and Simple Thinking
When it comes to an issue as complex as the relationship religious people have to their money, it’s surprising how many church leaders reduce stewardship to formulas and platitudes. This article looks at the phenomenon and how wise leaders can begin find new ways to explore stewardship. From the Alban Institute.

Lectionary Reflection: Something Stinks … and It’s Not Lazarus
Isn’t it amazing that even after Jesus winds up a series of miracles with the grand finale, raising Lazarus from the dead, doubt and disbelief continue to plague Jesus’ followers? And 2,000 years later, they still do. From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Share Your Best Stewardship Tips through the Simply Sustainable Project
In 2010 Herald Press plans to publish Simply Sustainable, and you can contribute your best ideas to the project. The book is planned to “help readers meet the challenges facing the earth and our communities by offering realistic alternatives to many of the consumer choices they make every day.  The learning and experience of contributors from around the world will offer tested and proven methods to better care for God’s creation.” The authors invite you to sign up to be a contributor and/or a reviewer, and to check out their blog.

Worship God with Our Offering
Just think if we gathered before God in worship, with glad and joy-filled hearts, putting our offering in the basket and understood this as a way of continuing to worship God. As worship leaders, we can help nudge people in this direction. By the Rev. Erica Kennedy. Click here to read archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

October 19, 2009
Stewardship Notes to Parents
How will our children be stewards unless we teach them?  “Notes to Parents” equips adults to do just that, with concise discussions. The current offering is entitled “Teaching Kids that it is Better to Give than to Receive” and suggests ways to plan birthday parties that encourage stewardship as opposed to blatant consumerism. From the Archdiocese of St. Louis Office of Stewardship website.

It’s Your Choice: Choosing to Live Sustainably
“Stress results when we act in ways that are contrary to our values—when the time crunch, too much ‘stuff,’ and a disconnection from nature and spirituality take the place of what’s really important to us.” So begins the section on “Striking a Balance” from Living Sustainably: It’s Your Choice.  This free downloadable booklet defines sustainable living, offers tools to help readers discover what really matters to them and to develop an action plan. From the Oregon State University Sustainable Living Project.

Smashing Economic Idols: Julie Clawson Blogs about Everyday Justice
Clawson’s thought-provoking book raises more than awareness and eyebrows. Through subsequent interviews and conversations, she sees first-hand the complicated nature of Christian economics and how idolatry can lurk right around the corner. This blog entry is sure to help stir up some good conversation and would make a nice entrance point for a group discussion of Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices. On the Sojourner’s website.

Modeling Stewardship—Even When the Economy Stinks
Shawn Lovejoy and David Putnam offer some practical stewardship suggestions in their timely article “When the Economy Stinks.” Their suggestions range from the practical “don’t spend what you don’t have” to the inspirational “stop the guilt” in giving. While most people have heard this information before, it never hurts to have a dose of positive reinforcement. Posted on the Injoy Stewardship Solutions website.

Trusting in God’s Promises
How do you trust God’s faithful promises? Do you do so with openness and confidence? If you are like most people, you have your ups and downs where this is concerned, but that’s where our faith can help us. By Jill Hetland.

Lectionary Reflection: When Believing Leads to Seeing
 A lot of folks just don’t get Jesus. Even though their eyes are open and functional, they cannot see Jesus for who and what he is. How is your spiritual vision? Time for an “I” exam? From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

October 12, 2009
Make it Simple
Wow! Every church needs a little help in the current economic downturn. Here’s a free online comprehensive stewardship planning resource from the ELCA. It will guide your congregation through all the steps for your stewardship program, such as finding a theme, settling on a method, educating and training your members. You’ll find PDF downloads, videos, worship guides, sermon suggestions. From ELCA Stewardship Resources. Augsburg Fortress has a DVD set of these resources for those who wish. Click here for order information.

Discovering the Manna Principle
Barbara Fullerton offers a good way for congregations to think about stewardship by applying what she calls “the Manna Principle.”  Her idea is to help move people from embracing the identity of “consumers” to an identity of “disciples and stewards.” She recommends a three-pronged approach of preaching and teaching, personal finance resources, and small-group discussions. From the United Church of Canada.

10 Books for your Baby’s Eco-Library
Educating future generations about creation care is an important task for parents, so in addition to putting scripture and the catechism into their hands, how about choosing a few books to complement biblical themes of creation care and environmental stewardship?

Faith 350: Small Actions Make a Big Difference
Involve your youth group or entire parish in the International Day of Climate Action on Saturday, Oct. 24, or select another more convenient date. 350.org is “an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis.” While you’re at it, check out the music written and performed by popular artists to help get out the word. Click here for music. From 350.org.

Lectionary Reflection: Wishes
“We humans are funny creatures. We want what we want when we want it. Hey, at least we’re fairly consistent in our brokenness and sinful ways across time, space, and culture. A perfect example is found in the gospel lesson for this week, when two of Jesus' closest followers want exactly what they want—regardless of the cost.” From SOLI columnist Rev. Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

Article: Can We Reclaim the Corporate Virtue of Thrift?
Author Ken Camp proposes this question in a thought-provoking article from the Associated Baptist Press. Pointing to founding father Ben Franklin’s ethic of thrift and our current culture of debt, Camp lifts up churches, youth organizations, and families as key to reclaiming and practicing the virtue of thrift and biblical stewardship. From the Associated Baptist Press.

The Stewardship of Time
Oh, sure, we are pretty careful with our treasure and talent, but how about the other “T” in the trio of stewardship gifts? “Are we afraid to rest? Many of us yearn for a slower pace, to find ways to slow down, and yet we keep adding more and more to the calendar.” What to do? From the Rev. Barbara Kennedy.

October 5, 2009
Planning and the Budget
“Congregations often plan and budget as though planning were one thing and budgeting another. Bringing the two together calls for a comprehensive calendar for goal-setting and evaluation.” Does this ring true for your church? This article tells you how to achieve this balance. From the Alban Institute.

Faith at Home: Formation of Environmental Stewards
Here’s a concise and thoughtful article about developing environmental stewards from Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Parish. Authored by Linda Rimer, chair of the parish’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, the article makes a strong case for two-way education (between adult and child) by spending time outside celebrating God’s good creation. Rimer provides a good way to think about taking faith home and living it.

Prepping for the Final
“What if you are told the first day of a class that there is absolutely nothing you can do to pass the course? All the prepping in the world will not help you pass the final exam. The texts for this coming Sunday remind me of this hypothetical scenario.” From SOLI columnist Rev. Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

Annual Financial Campaign Suggestions
In many churches, the annual campaign is little more than an elaborate plea for more money, and in tough economic times this devolves into a desperate plea for money. But the best campaigns focus not the needs of the church but the transformation of the church member and the congregation. From stewardship writer David S. Bell and posted by the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Gloomy Outlook for Religious Life?
Like we needed yet another reminder of the devastating effects of our current economic recession! USA Today ended September with a dire report about the future of religious life in America courtesy of the economic downturn. Before one begins the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, or before dismissing the report with a cynical snort, why not prayerfully consider how communities of faith may be part of God’s work in new and shifting contexts? How might our congregations and denominations use this information to talk about stewardship and discipleship? How might we use this prediction to bring about positive change and hope? From USA Today.

Go Public with Your Giving – Carefully!
Imagine what would happen if one Sunday your worship bulletin listed the names of families and the amount of money they gave over the last year? You don’t have to go to those lengths, but do find a way to highlight giving. By Rev. Robert Blezard, SOLI editor.

September 28, 2009
Seven Steps to Creation Caretaking
Author and speaker Brian McLaren offers seven steps that all of us can take toward caring for God’s good creation. Among them, how to identify your environmental address and “surf your watershed” through a link to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website. How cool is that? From Sojourners.

Stewardship Mixer: People Non-Bingo Game
Need a way to break the ice AND help people think about stewardship? Try this game at your next council retreat, stewardship drive kick-off, or youth group meeting. It’s on the Presbyterian Church USA Office of Stewardship website, where you will also find a host of other useful resources, including clip art, worship resources, and success stories.

What Does the Bible Say About Money?
Need a quick reference? Want to search by topic or book? Try this handy resource that lets you do just that! From Generous Giving. The website also features prayers, daily meditations, and suggested resources.

Lectionary Reflection: Family Values – Jesus Style
This week’s Gospel lesson includes Jesus’ teaching on divorce, still a controversial issue. “Defining marriage and family seems almost as complicated today as it was thousands of years ago, and unfortunately we do not have Jesus sitting in front of us to make it crystal clear.” How to make sense of it? From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

Movie Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Finding family-friendly films or those suitable to elementary youth groups is a continual challenge in today’s entertainment market. It’s an even rarer offering that provides both great entertainment and a challenging message. You’ll want to check your theater listings now for the 3-D animated movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a visually appealing, funny, and thought-provoking offering based on the children’s book by the same name. Viewers from six to 60 will find plenty worth chewing on besides the overpriced popcorn! Posted on Sojourners.

Bicycling Pastor Models Good Stewardship
“A pastor I know rides his sturdy bicycle almost everywhere he needs to go. Not always, of course, not in lousy weather, but enough to catch the notice of people who look up to him. The pastor is making a statement.” From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

September 21, 2009
The Official Stewardship Panic Kit
So it’s fall, and your church hasn’t decided what to do about stewardship yet? Tsk, tsk! The good news is you’re not the only one. The even better news is that there are resources to help! Here is a guide of “dos” and “don’ts” that will help you avoid rushing into the worst stewardship mistakes. Good reading for all your stewardship leaders. From The Episcopal Network for Stewardship.

Blessing the Hands
Subtitled, “A Curriculum on Farm Workers for Faith Communities,” this resource helps people of faith understand the connection between what’s on the table and where it came from . It covers issues of justice for the farm workers who harvest the food we eat. Printed copies also available for $5.  From the interfaith National Farm Worker Ministry, where you can find additional resources for worship and educational settings.

Predatory Lending and the Financial Crisis
Looking for a resource to help members of your congregation understand some of the issues behind the current economic decline in the United States? A publication of the Center for Responsible Lending. Here you will find a faith-based look at the issues with suggestions for ways the average person of faith may respond.

Lectionary Reflection: Salty Stewards Share
“How often do we good church folk act like pre-schoolers when it comes to sharing? From who can serve on the Altar Guild to who is fit to serve in worship and from who may set foot in the kitchen to how the youth can paint the youth room, we still have a little trouble when it comes to sharing control of sacred territory.” From SOLI columnist Rev. Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

A Budget is a Statement of Faith
In a workshop when she was Stewardship Officer of the Episcopal Church, Terry Parsons 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 he coming year." How does your congregation define a budget? What are the alternatives? By Rev. Robert Blezard.

Creation Care in the Congregation: Share the Stories
If your congregation is exploring ways to care for the environment and make earth care a part of your ministry, check out these stories about what other congregations are doing from Texas to Ohio to Washington. While there, why not check out Earth Ministry’s other resources and suggestions. Click here for the Earth Ministry website main page.

September 14, 2009
Stewardship Sermon & Study Helps
Looking for Stewardship Texts for your sermon or Bible study? Low on inspiration? Short on time? This website is chock-full of sermons, illustrations, and stories to help jumpstart your muse. Click here for illustrations based on selected biblical texts dealing with stewardship, and click here for illustrations by theme. All from preachingtoday.com!

Home Sweet Recycled Home
When is a house a work of art, an example of excellent stewardship of resources, good for the environment, and an entrée to home ownership for low-income families? The answer is a house built by Dan Phillips. For this active retiree, trash becomes treasure, and creative reuse is an artistic statement. Imagine how much “stuff” might stay out of landfills and how many folks might have homes if more people employed Phillips’ building principles and ethics. From the New York Times. Be sure to enjoy the slide show.

Lectionary Reflection: Messing Up the Message
“In some ways I find it very comforting that Jesus’ inner circle had trouble understanding, and that they spent time fussing among themselves about who was top dog.  I can relate to these folks. From SOLI columnist Rev. Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

Shopping Green without Spending in the Red
How does one justify living “green” when the economy and your bottom line is seeing red? It isn’t easy, and it isn’t always perfect, but blogger Tracey Bianchi has some thoughts to share about how to balance “green” with stewardship and reality. From Sojourners.

Confessions of a Generosity Jedi
Like most truths of faith, the paradox of generous giving cannot be grasped intellectually, but only experienced. That’s why we need to witness to others about the value of giving – through our own stories of those of others. By Rev. Robert Blezard, SOLI editor.

September 7, 2009
Blessings in Hard Times
What’s a Christian to do? Start with gratitude, advises Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. “Begin with the simple (!) task of listing the blessings in your life – shelter, family, friends, skills and your breath. Include your hungers: for relationship, greater depth in those relationships, the desire to be of service and to give to others out of your blessings. From Episcopal Life online.

Fall Curriculum Round-Up, Final Part
Here are some more offerings. Back to school means many congregations are looking for curriculum suggestions for youth and adult forums, classes, and small groups. This is the final week that SOLI will be offering a series of links to free and low-cost options.

Rick Warren on Money, Ministry
When his book, “The Purpose-Driven Life” made millions, Pastor Rick Warren faced the dilemma of what to do with the money. He became a “reverse tither” – giving away 90 percent of his money and living on 10 percent. In this interview, he explains why: “Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. Every time I give, it makes me more like Jesus. Every time I give, my heart grows bigger.” Wow! Posted on Beliefnet.

Biblical Principles for Respecting the Integrity of Creation
“Environmental stewardship is not talk; environmental stewardship is action,” asserts Calvin DeWitt in this challenging essay. “Environmental stewardship is practice. Environmental stewardship is practicing the stewardship principles we preach and teach.” From the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies.

Faith and Money
“At least since Moses smashed the golden calf, the borderland between the realms of faith and money has not been an altogether comfortable place to live,” writes author Dan Hochkiss, adding, “Religious leaders know that mammon still competes with God for the loyalty of even the most devout.” So begins an excellent, weighty exploration. From the Alban Institute’s Congregational Resource Guide.

Lectionary Reflection: Sounds Like a Good Idea, but …
Questions arise when Jesus tells his followers to lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel: “what in the world does it really mean? How much will it cost us? Is it going to hurt? Will we be inconvenienced? Might it mean doing without so that others may have something? So what is the price tag?” From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

August 31, 2009
Eco-Spirituality and Daily Reflections
“An all-good God creates, redeems, and invites us into the noble task of re-creating this damaged Earth,” says Al Fritsch, SJ, in his essay “Towards an Authentic Eco-Spirituality.” This essay offers much to consider and discuss and would be a good tool to use with parish groups exploring a call to more responsible stewardship of the environment. Father Fritsch also offers daily reflections and a list of publications dedicated to the healing of God’s good earth through the non-profit organization, Earth Healing, Inc. and its website. Click here to explore.

Stewardship Lessons from Passing Generations
Why is it that the best givers are the older members of the church? It’s largely because they were raised with solid values about money, faith and community – values that our culture used to celebrate. Younger stewards can learn much from their example. From the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Purchasing Flowchart for the Good Steward
Once in a while everyone falls into the trap of wasting money on stuff we can’t afford or don’t really need. Want to teach someone about making wise purchasing decisions? Would you like a visual aid for your family or yourself? From the Barnabas Foundation available as a PDF file.

Website: Project Laundry List
Here is an organization that wants to save the earth one clothesline at a time. It's dedicated to the simple idea that washing clothes in cold water and then hanging them on a line to dry will help our planet. Well worth visiting.

Not an ‘Aha,’ but a ‘Duh!’
“We were discussing green technology, and I couldn’t help but boast. ‘I, personally, have switched to a solar-powered system to dry my laundry.’ My friend’s eyes lit up. ‘Really?’ he asked. I nodded confidently.” By Rev. Robert Blezard, SOLI editor.

Lectionary Reflection: Crumbs from the Altar
In the week’s Gospel reading, Jesus encountered a woman eager for the crumbs of grace that fell from the table of the chosen. What can that teach those of us who never have to depend on crumbs of anything to get by? Much! By SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

August 24, 2009
Faith, Hope, and Ecology
In this lively article, originally appearing in The Christian Century, Garret Keizer outlines the basis for faith-based ecological activism. Keizer is a writer and contributing editor for Harper’s, authored several books, and has worked as an English teacher and Episcopal priest. From Surf-in-the Spirit web directory.

Fall Curriculum Round-Up
Back to school means many congregations are looking for curriculum suggestions for youth and adult forums, classes, and small groups. For the next few weeks, SOLI will be offering a series of links to free and low-cost options.

Lectionary Reflection: Dirty Hands and Holy Hope
This week’s Gospel reading deals with way more than hygiene. “Different is threatening. New is challenging. Change makes us uncomfortable. In response to uncomfortable situations, we tend to hold on tightly to our turf and traditions.” From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

50 Ways to Leave your Lover, Mammon
Trying to Simplify your Life? Like Lists? If you answered yes to both of these questions, check out Anton Flores’ article in the most recent issue of PeaceSigns, a monthly e-zine from the Mennonite Church USA, Peace and Justice Support Network. Not every suggestion on Anton’s list will fit every person’s situation, but you are likely to find at least a few ideas to incorporate into your own life and discipleship journey.

Priority Giving
“How much did you spend on restaurant food last month? How much on movie tickets, cable or satellite TV and other entertainment? What is the total? Now, how much did you give to church?” By Rev. Robert Blezard, SOLI editor.

Our Interesting Approaches to Tithing
Faithful tithers for 24 years, a couple shares their experiences of how to look at tithing (and how NOT to look at it), as well as what really works. From Marriage Partnership.

August 17, 2009
‘Green’ Font Saves Ink, Looks Stylish
 Your church may already make a difference by using recycled paper for bulletins and newsletters. What more can you do? Explore the new Ecofont created by SPRANQ, a creative communications agency in Utrecht, Netherlands. This open source font is free to download for your use and saves up to 20% of the ink required to print thanks to small circular holes in the font.  Click here to download the font. Not only is it free, it may also help you be a better steward of your resources and those of your congregation or organization.

50 Ways to Encourage Faithful Giving
Need some ideas to pump up your stewardship efforts at church? This is a handy list of ideas for educating, inspiring and organizing things. Easy-to understand, easy to use. From the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary.

To Need or to Want: That is the Question.
This is a question many of us have been asking over the last several months as the economic downturn has pinched our wallets and awakened us to a new definition of normal. It is a question we certainly need to be asking now, and this short newsletter article explores the issue handily. Consider talking about this topic with the children in your life before setting out for a back-to-school shopping trip. From Share, Save, Spend. While you’re at it, take a look at the many other good resources available from Nathan Dungan at Share, Save, Spend.

Lectionary Reflection: To Whom Can We Go?
“There comes a time in every disciple’s life when he or she realizes that there is no turning back, that Jesus is indeed the way, the truth, and the life, and that one must follow him no matter the course or length or difficulty of the journey.” From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Discovering the Spiritual Side of Shopping
Yes, we are immersed in a culture of consumerism, but is it all bad? “If shopping is done shrewdly, with a feeling of appreciation for God’s gifts and others, it can serve God, oneself and others. How was your most recent shopping experience?” By Keith A. Mundy, assistant director for stewardship for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Click here to read archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

August 10, 2009
The Story of Stuff
Ever wonder where all that junk in your house comes from? Ever consider where it goes when you get rid of it? What’s the true cost of consumer goods? Take a look at this powerful 20 minute animated, interactive movie written by Annie Leonard. Produced by Free Range Studios.

An Environmental Toolkit for Churches
Is your congregation interested in exploring “environmental issues in the context of their Christian life and mission while encouraging positive action?” If so, this twelve module toolkit from Eco-congregation Canada might be a good place to start. A project of A Rocha Canada.

Lectionary Reflection: Let the Living Bread Live
After 2,000 years of Holy Communion, Christians may forget that when Jesus said “I am the bread of life,” he was really shaking things up and making a powerful statement. That’s the kind of passion and energy we need to recapture in our preaching, our ministries our lives. From Pastor Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

Daily Bread
Baking Bread is a conscious act of stewardship, but it doesn’t mean one must slave away in the kitchen to enjoy a delicious, healthy loaf. Since we’re right in the middle of a series of bread texts from John’s gospel, why not try this no-knead recipe illustrated by Mark Bittman and based on a recipe from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. From The New York Times.

Uncluttered Stewardship
“The stuff of our lives clutters up our garages, attics and storerooms, and it also represents how poorly we do stewardship in our culture. We buy too much stuff and we keep it long after its usefulness has passed.” From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

August 3, 2009
Archbishop of Canterbury: Renewing the Face of the Earth
Rowan Williams, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently called on Christians to confront the economic crisis, which will disproportionately harm the world‘s poor. In his weighty address, Williams reviews the biblical, social and theological implications. From the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Developing a Vision Statement
Does your church have a clear, well-articulated, inspirational statement? If not, it could be holding your congregation back. How can your church thrive if it has no idea where it’s going? This article covers the whys and the hows of developing an effective mission statement. From Churchlink Webzine of Johnson Bible College.

Martin E. Marty: Giving
The economy is in crisis, and what’s the affect on charities? “No one on the giving front is relaxing, or being and sounding optimistic, but the record so far gives some reasons for hope,” says Martin Marty, one of the most respected voices in Christianity. From the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Healthy Stewardship
With a report showing that overweight costs Americans $147 billion a year in extra health costs, it’s time to recognize that obesity is more than a health issue – it’s an issue of stewardship. From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

The Staff of Eternal Life
The Lectionary these days is all about bread. "We can run but we cannot hide from the bread that’s been thrust upon us this season as hearers, proclaimers, and bearers of the good news. We might as well sit down, break it open, and chew on it." From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

July 27, 2009
Guiding your Church through Financial Crisis
So giving is way below budget, the church leaders are getting antsy, your congregation has to do something, but what? Your first idea might be a special appeal for money, but that’s the last thing you should do, this article says. From Building Church Leaders.

It Takes More Than a Recession to End Consumption
Millions of families are tightening their belts and making do on less, but it’s more out of necessity than a change in heart against consumption. How about you? From ChristianityToday.

Lectionary Reflection: Satisfying the Hungry Heart
“Jesus promises us that those who follow him will never be hungry and will never thirst, but he doesn’t promise a reserved table at a four star restaurant every day of our lives.” It means something much, much more. From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Quick Tips for Including Eco-Justice in Church Administration
Whether it’s staffing, building administration or investing, a church has plenty of ways to incorporate environmental justice in its administrative decisions. As with most efforts, little steps taken consistently make a big difference over the long term. From Eco-Justice Ministries.

July 20, 2009
Christian Stewardship Bible Studies
What does the Bible tell us about stewardship? This series of studies aims to tell us. Each one looks at several Bible verses, provides commentary and questions. From the Church of Scotland.

Moments of Authentic Discipleship
Many churches that are facing decline blame our culture, but the victim mentality will get us nowhere. “It blinds us both to our role in our plight and to the possibilities that lie before us.” says this author, who calls for churches to repent. Very interesting! From The Alban Institute.

Lectionary Reflection: That Nothing May Be Lost
After feeding the 5,000, Jesus certainly modeled for us good stewardship. It’s a lesson the economic crisis is forcing many Americans to learn. “Now an ever-increasing number of these folks are finding not just necessity but even joy in simplifying, reducing consumption, and creatively adapting items for reuse.” From columnist Sharron Riessinger Lucas.

Growing Green: One Congregation’s Story
Many congregations would love to “go green,” but where to start? Here is the story of how a congregation went from the idea to the reality. Follow in their footsteps! From the United Church of Christ Earthcare.

July 13, 2009
Stewardship of Creation: Thirty Day Discipline
Here’s a resource that helps you help the environment. Each day’s devotion includes a passage of Scripture, some relevant facts, a suggested commitment to help you do your part, and a prayer. Very informative as well as faith raising. Some churches have used the devotions as weekly bulletin inserts. From Web of Creation.

Faces of Faith: A Steward’s Book of Prayers
This is a wonderful collection of prayers and stories presented to the Episcopal Church’s 2003 General Convention. Readers are welcome to reproduce this material providing credit to the author and the source of the material is duly noted. From The Episcopal Network for Stewardship.

Lectionary Reflection: Even Shepherds Need a Sabbath
“An important part of stewardship is taking good care of oneself. Yet the idea of sufficient self-care seems to be a difficult concept to incorporate actively into our busy lives, particularly for vocational church workers.” From columnist Sharron Lucas.

The Power of Thanks: Properly Appreciating Donors
“If there’s one area where the vast majority of pastors fail, it’s this one. Many are unfamiliar or uncomfortable around wealth and, as a result, tend to shy away from any plan of action or ministry to those of wealth.” From ChurchSolutions magazine.

SOLI/Update: The Missing Link
Has this ever happened to your church? After planning for the stewardship campaign and executing it faithfully, the resulting giving is disappointing and the team is discouraged. Perhaps you are missing an important ingredient. Our columnist has an idea what. From ELCA columnist Tuck Aaker. Click here to subscribe.

July 6, 2009
The Green Sanctuary Movement
Churches can lead the way in creation care by modeling good environmental stewardship. This is a set of denominational resources that can help get you started. It’s geared for Unitarian churches, but helpful for anyone. From the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth.

Climbing Out of That Deep Hole
Lots of people from your church are having a hard time getting by without resorting to credit cards, but it’s a short term solution with drastic long-term consequences. This article gives basic, practical advice to folks who have fallen in the credit card hole. From Thrivent magazine.

Lectionary Reflection: God Wants You!
The Bible shows that when it comes to choosing people to proclaim the divine word, God is not very choosy. “Like Amos, the vast majority of us are just ordinary folks going about our ordinary lives. Yet God calls us, all of us.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Curing Our Affluenza
Affluenza is the name given to the disease of overconsumption that plagues America, making us overworked, overstressed, drowning in debt and, strangely, still insatiable in our desire for more. It’s as much a spiritual issue as an economic one. This article, reviewing three books on the topic, gives a handy overview of the problem and what to do about it. From The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.

SOLI/Update: Faith in a Positive Future
“The words of Jesus Christ were totally given to establish the foundation for positive action by His disciples. There has never been a more positive, proactive thinker in the history of the world! And yet we see the fear of change everywhere we look in our congregations.” Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

In Recession, Church Multiplies Money for Needy
While other churches are tightening their budgets to get by in the recession, a church in Michigan tightened its budget to give more to people who are hurting. An inspiring story. From National Public Radio.

June 29, 2009
A Catechism of Creation
This is the mother lode of resources for teaching about creation from a mainstream Christian perspective. Prepared by the Episcopal Church’s Committee for Science, Technology & Faith, this resource contains meaty sections on Theology of Creation, Creation & Science, and Caring for Creation. It’s also backed up with Bible study and preaching resources. From the Episcopal Church.

Lectionary Reflection: Traveling Light
Jesus sent out his disciples with instructions to carry very little – advice that many of us in North America would find impossible. “Relying upon the kindness and goodness of our fellow human beings is not something we do too well in our culture. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide for ourselves and those we love.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

The Attributes of a Biblically Generous Church
“Ten attributes seem to capture the essence of generosity across many different communities of faith. It may surprise some that tithing is not one of the attributes considered.” Yes, it does surprise. From the United Methodist Church’s Center for Christian Stewardship.

Practice the Five Principles of Stewardship
Quantity of money is not important to God. Therefore, in determining winners and losers in God's economic system, it is the quality of financial management, not the quantity of finances that matters most. Godly financial stewardship is a matter of how, not how much.” Sounds intriguing, huh? From Crosswalk.com.

June 22, 2009
Who Spends the Church’s Money?
A faithful church has a lot of moving parts – ministries for education, music, outreach, nurture, communications, youth, seniors, moms, to name just a few. Each has its own expenses and leaders. Keeping tabs on all that can be a nightmare. Here’s a resource that provides commonsense tips on how to manage. From Christianity Today.

50 Ways to Improve Your Annual Stewardship Campaign
Easy to understand, brief yet powerful and helpful, this resource serves as a handy tipsheet for committees and leaders who direct a congregation’s stewardship campaign. From the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary.

Environment: ‘Called to protect the Earth’
Sure, you have wanted to lead your congregation into the environmental stewardship movement but needed some guiding principles? Here is a wonderful, thoughtful statement of principles for advocacy, beginning with “The Earth as the Beloved Creation and Possession of the Divine.” From GreenFaith.

Lectionary Reflection: Good Gifts; Grateful Giving
When people fail to give generously, it’s often because they are fearful of not having enough because they misunderstand Scripture. “We aren’t expected to borrow or go in debt to give to others. Not at all! What we are asked to do is to look at what we do have with clear and faithful eyes, leaving fear out of the picture and trusting in God’s provision.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

SOLI/Update: The Other Giving
“The old standard definition of stewardship is the giving of one’s money, time and talents. Most every congregation does something in the way of a program to encourage giving gifts of money to support the ministry. That part of the giving trio is the one that’s the most important in most congregations.” By columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

Stewardship Bible Studies
Everybody wants to know what the Bible has to say about stewardship and giving. Here is a set of eight Bible studies geared for use with a small group. The set spans a wide range of topics, from stewardship of creation to personal commitment. Good stuff! From the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

June 15, 2009
Tithing: A Benchmark for Giving
Although many churches hold out the ideal of tithing, on average Christians give less than 2.5 percent of their income to the church. Yet there are lots of excellent reasons why churches should still lift up tithing as a benchmark for giving. From stewardship consultant David S. Bell.

Publication: BeFriending Creation
Here is a totally amazing publication, filled with articles that cover the spectrum of environmental stewardship. Whether you want to find ways to incorporate radical simple living into your life or looking for reviews of “must read” books on eco-justice, you’ll find it in the archives of this publication. From Quaker Earthcare Witness.

Lectionary Reflection: The Case for a Slight Vocabulary Adjustment
“Perhaps the words ‘boredom’ and ‘fear’ both need to be stricken from the Christian’s vocabulary. We have no time to be caught up in fear about declining attendance numbers, stretched budgets, denominational differences, and other quibbles.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

What About Christian Stewardship?
This concise, Bible-based resource gives the broad view of stewardship -- going all the way back to Adam and Eve. Good perspective that is helpful in teaching and leading Christians for the 21st century. From the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

SOLI/Update: The Miracle of Growth
When it comes to church growth, many congregational leaders talk a good game, but they are actually doubtful, even fearful about the future. There’s a cure for this, however. It’s called attitude adjustment. By columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

June 8, 2009
Budgeting in the Local Church
This is a great entry-level resource for someone new to the stewardship or finance committe, or for any leader who wants a solid guide to church budgeting. It expains church-finance terms and basic procedures for drafting a church budget. From the Assemblies of God.

Economy Pulls Churches in All Directions
People are losing jobs, and those who have jobs may face a cutback in hours or benefits. Thsi takes its toll on church offerings, but many churches are finding creative ways to respond. From Church Solutions magazine.

Personal Economics 101
The economy, the economy, the economy. Is there any other issue facing the people in our pews today? It doesn't seem so. But with creativity and common sense, people can not only cope, they can also thrive. Experts from Emory University offer tips. From Emory magazine.

Extreme Life Makeover
“In the extreme life makeover that Paul talks about in his second letter to the Corinthians. In Christ, we are new creations; we have been made over to the very core of our being.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Increase Your Income
What does it take to increase income? There are three ways. "It doesn’t require 'Rocket Science,' but it’s surprising how many people have difficulty figuring it out." B y guest columnist Tuck Aaker. Click here to read other archived SOLI columns.  Click here to subscribe. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

June 1, 2009
Local Church Planned Giving Manual
Wow! The UCC declares it, “The quintessential Planned Giving resource!” And it’s not just hype. Here’s everything you may ever need to know to set up a planned giving ministry in your church. Available for free PDF download, the manual covers bequests, wills, endowments and other key issues. From the United Church of Christ financial development office.

Stewards in a Slump
Here’s a great resource – available as a camera-ready booklet in color or black-and-white – listing seven stewardship reflections for Christians to consider during the economic crisis.  For instance, there’s “Learning Contentment” and “A Financial Downturn Can Be a Spiritual Upturn.” From Parish Resources, run by the stewardship office of the Church of England.

Ready or Not … Here We Go!
“Oh, yes, you can hide all you want, but ultimately God will get you. God will call you. God will name, claim, and send you in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Website: Season of Creation
Several Australian churches have collaborated to set aside a season of Sundays to celebrate God’s creation and to raise awareness of human degradation of the planet. The result is Season of Creation, a website rich in worship and theological resources to help you plan for worship to celebrate creation.

You Can’t Afford Not To
Local churches often face a dilemma when deciding whether to hire staff they really need, but can’t easily afford. “I wonder what God is thinking when he hears that we can’t afford to reach our mission because it doesn’t fit into a preconceived set of figures?” By guest columnist Tuck Aaker.  Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

May 25, 2009
Environmental Success Story: Solana Beach Presbyterian
Looking for a way to save some cash? (And what church is not?) Take the tip from Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, which spent thousands to upgrade their church’s lighting and HVAC, but qualified for grants to defray about two thirds of the cost. Energy savings paid back its net expenditure in 11 months! From Energy Star.

Things to Think About When You Think About Money in the Church
Here’s a resource that puts focus on what’s really important in financial stewardship. The 20 tips are right on the, well, money. Good reading for every member of the church council and stewardship committee. From the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Pentecost: Winds of Spirit and Seeds of Hope
Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday occasions conflicting emotions. While we rejoice as a church in the Holy Spirit’s work among us, we are often sad because confirmation marks the end of too many young people’s church experience. From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Christian Asceticism: Breaking Consumerism’s Destructive Hold
Our consumer culture lures us in with its promise of satisfaction, happiness and leisure. Why then, are so many Americans dissatisfied with life, unhappy and chronically short on time? This piece explores why and offers an antidote through spiritual disciplines. From the Houston Catholic Worker newspaper.

The Answer in Economic Famine: Serve First
The financial crisis has most people cutting back on everything, including their contributions to church and charity. “But is that how the Bible tells us to respond to economic hard times? Is it okay to pull in, look out for number one, take care of ourselves before we take care of others?” From Faith in the Workplace.

A Team Balance
When it comes to finding church members to work with your congregation’s finance and stewardship efforts, your search shouldn’t end with the professional accountants and brokers. “Look for team members who have broad experience in many different lines of work, but make sure they have a high compassion level and are interested in seeing the congregation grow.” By guest columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

May 18, 2009
Economic crisis calls for pastoral, practical, prophetic responses
Everybody’s feeling the pinch in the economic crunch, from the laid-off convenience store clerk to the downsized executive and everybody in between who is tightening the belt to get by. That’s putting pressure on churches to get by with reduced income while also providing support, assistance and programs to help God’s people cope. From Interpreter, a publication of the United Methodist Church.

Almost Everything You Need To Know About Environmental Justice
Here’s a wonderful 20-page guide outlining the environmental justice movement and the plight of people of color, who disproportionately suffer from environmental abuse. From the United Church of Christ.

Tell the Story, as if Your Life Depends On It
Does your church take its mission and cause for granted? If so, it’s like a lot of organizations that do not tell their story very well. For churches it’s a real sin because if we’re not telling our story, what are we doing? This article is written for a non-religious nonprofit audience, but we can really learn a lot. From onPhilanthropy.

In Jesus’ Name
“We end our prayers in the name of Jesus; it’s a routine thing with Christians. Yet how many times do we stop and consciously think about the power of being in that name? Chances are it is not very often.” From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

SOLI/Update: Check Under the Hood
So long as the engine runs, most of us don’t think much about our cars. It’s the same way with our churches. “We go year after year assuming that pretty much the same things will happen. We take it for granted that members know that we need additional funds this year.” By guest columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

May 11, 2009
Three Layers of Environmental Preaching
A pastor who preaches from the pulpit about climate change may find herself or himself in hot water. Controversial environmental issues require some delicate handling. This article discusses three approaches that can help a pastor get a message out.  Click here for “Three Layers of Environmental Preaching, from Eco-Justice Ministries.

How To Give
Here is a list of 10 Scripture-based principles that can guide our giving to the church. Practical, commonsense and biblical, these tips are worth checking out. Click here for “How to Give,” from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA.

What’s Love Got to Do with It – Stewardship, That Is!
“For the second week in a row, both the Epistle and Gospel readings find common themes in love and abiding in Jesus. This love is no mere ‘secondhand emotion.’ This love is the real deal—life changing, life giving, and life-affirming.” From columnist Sharron Lucas.

Avoiding the Church Bailout: Stewardship Beyond the Status Quo
The economic crisis is putting pressure on churches as never before. Amid the turmoil, only one thing is certain: Churches need to change the way they “do” stewardship. This article lists some concrete steps that churches can take to move their efforts to the next step. Click here for “Avoiding the Church Bailout,” from ChurchSolutions magazine.

Sounding the Alarm Bell
Only a few generations ago, before radio, TV and the Internet, a ringing church bell was the best way to notify everybody that there was an emergency. Environmental author Bill McKibben says it’s time for churches to start ringing their bells to let everybody know our planet has an emergency. One sign: Our atmosphere has now passed the “radical” limit of 350 parts per million of CO2. Click here for “Sounding the Alarm Bell,” from Sojourners magazine. (Free registration may be required.) A bonus: Click here to watch Sojourners’ interview with Bill McKibben.

SOLI/Update: Spring Training
Our columnist is from Florida, where not too long ago baseball players were converging from all over the nation to begin training. It’s the kind of drill on basic skills churches might benefit from every now and then. Click here for “Spring Training,” from ELCA columnist Tuck Aaker.

May 4, 2009
Study Guides for Global Wealth
Not sure how a Christian should look at issues facing the global economy? You are not alone! This resource gives you study guides to explore six issues facing us, including “An Economy for Earth,” “A Just and Living Wage,” and “Global Inequality.” Click here for “Study Guides for Global Wealth,” from the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University.

Praying and Pruning
Spring gardening time is perfect to explore Jesus’s teaching that he is the vine. “I want to produce good fruit. I am grafted to the vine, an adopted daughter who finds her every movement and very being in Jesus.” From columnist Sharron Lucas.

Energy Conservation in Religious Institutions
Now that we are sort of in between the prime heating season and the prime air conditioning season, why not plan steps to help reduce your congregation’s energy usage? This resource has lots of practical advice, such as “Getting Started,” “Five Steps,” and “Twelve Priority Measures.” Click here for “Energy Conservation, from GreenFaith.

So You’re the New Stewardship Chair?
There’s that slightly queasy feeling you get when a new church responsibility is dropped into your lap. But incoming church stewards fear not. Here is a basic resource that will guide newbies and provide a good check for veterans. Click here for “So You’re the New Stewardship Chair, from the Episcopal Church Stewardship Resources.

Accidental Disciples
“One of my church’s members has not been to worship in years. Yet whenever I visit, call or bump into him, he always says with a little grin, ‘I’m going to make it back to church one of these days.’ Maybe.  Who knows? But he hasn’t decided to come back to church, that's the problem. Until he decides, he won’t.” F rom SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard. Click here to read other archived columns.

April 27, 2009
Speaking into the Meltdown
The economic downturn has changed the way Americans think about their money, but also about their lives. The re-evaluation of values, lifestyle, relationship, work and other important matters offers an opportunity for the church to reach people. Click here for “Speaking into the Meltdown,” from LeadershipJournal.

Why Seeing is Part of Believing
Christians may be aware of the needy persons all around them, but often we do not look very closely. “We hear, we comprehend, and we respond to the needs laid before us. But do we see?  Do we see the person or people behind the need? Do we enter into relationship with that person? Do we see how much we have in common?” Click here for “Why Seeing is Part of Believing,”from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Combat Decreases in Church Giving
When revenue drops, so does your ability to fund all the ministry you would like. What’s a church to do? This article offers some obvious and not-so-obvious ways to tighten your congregation’s belt. Click here for “Combat Decreases in Church Giving,” from Church Solutions.

21 Ways Faith Groups Are Combating Global Warming
Here are some commonsense steps that faith communities are taking to help usher in a greener future for their members – and the planet. Read, learn, emulate. Click here for  “21 Ways,” from the Center for American Progress.

Worship is Mission
How does a church grow more: through worship ormission? Many congregations see these two as distinct, mutually exclusive activities, but that’s a mistake, says Craig E. Satterlee. “Christian worship is God’s initiative and activity in human history and the world, as well as in our individual lives, before it is an activity of Christians or the church.” Click here for “Worship is Mission,” from the Alban Institute.

SOLI/Update: That Elusive Feeling of Wealth
A big spiritual stumbling block for many in our country is that despite a generous income they feel poor, and as a result may not see the cornucopia of blessings God has given them. Moreover, they are likely to not give generously to their church or to the poor. Click here for this essay by SOLI webmaster and editor Rob Blezard.

April 20, 2009
Preaching When Times Are Tight
In hard times, people look to their pastor for leadership, which means preachers have the opportunity to reach people in a way they don’t in a booming economy. “Tight times cry out for good news. And as the proverb says, such news from a distant but precious place is like ‘cold water to a thirsty soul.’ ” Click here for “Preaching When Times Are Tight,” from Crosswalk.com.

Tell the Story
Like the eyewitnesses to the resurrection, we are to pass along the amazing story of Jesus. “Because the story was real, because the story was such life-altering good news, the story of Jesus Christ spread and was told and retold. From the eye-witness to the life-witness, the greatest story ever told continues to find voice and work its way into the most unlikely of places and hearts.” Click here for “Tell the Story,” this week’s lectionary reflection from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Review: Two Books on Stewardship
Looking to expand your stewardship library? Here are reviews of  Maxie D. Dunnam’s Irresistible Invitation: Responding to the Extravagant Heart of God and J. Clif Christopher’s Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship. Both are published by Abingdon Press. Click here for “Two Books on Stewardship,” appearing in Circuit Rider, the United Methodist Church’s magazine for clergy (which is also published by Abingdon).

SOLI/Update: The Miracle of Mission
“Many of our congregations suffer from lack of a clear mission. Our members need to know why they are here. They need to believe that with everyone pulling together, God will answer their prayers and start them back on the road to growth again. Click here for this essay by guest columnist Tuck Aaker, posted in last week’s edition of SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived SOLI columns.  Click here to subscribe. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

April 13, 2009
Earth Sunday Resources
Because Earth Day is April 22, many churches celebrate God’s creation on a Sunday in April or May. Here are some resources to help your congregation plan:
Festival of God’s Creation
Here is a page with a brand new resource for 2009, with the theme “Celebrating and Caring for God’s Creation.” Produced in conjunction with the National Council of Churches in Christ Eco-Justice Working Group, the resource is very informative and well done. You’ll also find useful links to helpful resources from previous years. Click here for “Festival of God’s Creation,” from the General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church.

This website offers liturgical resources for all sorts of services focusing on creation and the environment. You’ll find suggestions for prayers, liturgies, sermons, hymns, Scripture.  Click here for the EARTHCARE page of the United Church of Christ.

Earth Ministry: Worship Aids
Here you can find worship services, prayers, hymns, sermons – everything you need for you congregational celebration. Still need more? You’ll find links to other resources certain to fill the bill. Click here for Worship Aids, from Earth Ministry.

Acts: From Maintenance to Mission
Here is a small group study that looks at Acts for insight into how Christian communities can live out their call to be stewards of God’s generous abundance. The free study can be downloaded in booklet form. Click here for “From Maintenance to Misison,” from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship.

The Peace of Christ
Jesus preached peace time and again, and nobody disagrees that Christians should work for peace. “How is it, then, that we seem to have so little peace in our lives and in our world? Why can’t we all just get along?” Click here for “The Peace of Christ, this week’s lectionary reflection from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

A Surefire Investment
From popular Christian writer Philip Yancy, an essay looking at how to pray in the midst of a financial catastrophe. “A time of crisis presents a good opportunity to identify the foundation on which I construct my life,” he writes. Click here for “A Surefire Investment,” from ChristianityToday.

April 6, 2009
25 Signs of a Healthy Church
When you go to a doctor for a checkup, you will be given a screening on how your health has been in important areas, right? This resource helps you give your congregation a screening in four important areas of health. Click on the following links for the four areas:  – Spiritual Vitality, Personal Vitality, Relational Vitality, and Missional Vitality. Check it out! From LifeWay publishing.

Time Will Come When Appreciated Assets is a Smart Move in Giving
Did you know that some of your congregation members may come out better giving their offering in stocks and property, even in today’s economy? Doing so can help them avoid tax and sales costs. This article explains how. Click here for “Time will come when appreciated assets is a smart move in giving,” from Church Executive Magazine.

Holy Fear: Living the Rest of the Story
What do we make of the rather unsettling ending of the resurrection story in Mark’s Gospel? Perhaps it’s suited for today’s unsettling world. “Our endings are most often not neat, and our resolutions more apt to be untidy than fairy tale perfect. We tend to leave things and people hanging in life, and fear is an emotion with which most of us are well-acquainted.” From columnist Sharron Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

My Generation
It’s no secret that people of different generations have different attitudes on life and finances. That’s why they respond differently to your church’s financial outlook efforts. This article will help you understand the basic outlooks of Traditionalists, Boomers, Xers and Millennials. Helpful in financial planning and ministry outreach. Click here for “My Generation,” from Thrivent magazine.

Fixed Incomes
When you think about it, even fixed incomes aren’t inflexible. “The majority of the people in our pews understand that deep inside they have a need to say thanks to God for all those blessings. But most of our members won’t increase their giving until they know where the money is going and what it’s going to accomplish.” Click here for “Fixed Incomes,” from ELCA columnist Tuck Aaker, posted in last week’s edition of SOLI/Update, our free online newsletter. Click here to read other archived columns.  Click here to subscribe.

March 30, 2009
10 Stewardship Issues for 2009
With the economy on the skids, churches have to be smarter and do better with the resources they have. This article lists the top 10 things that should be on your stewardship radar screen this year. Click here for “10 Stewardship Issues for 2009,” posted on the website of The National Association of Church Business Administration.

Environmental Stewardship: Heating up, cooling costs
On the wintry plains of western Minnesota, an Episcopal congregation expects to save two-thirds on the costs of heating by going with a geothermal system. This informative report talks about St. John the Divine in Moorhead, Minn., and other Episcopalian institutions that have looked to geothermal to cut energy usage – and costs. Click here for “Heating up, cooling costs,” from the Episcopal Church Environmental Stewardship page.

Lectionary Reflection: Running on Empty
Are you at the end of your emotional, mental or physical rope? You’re not alone. “This life is not fair, and no one promised our sojourn here would be an easy one. Living can be hard, sometimes lonely work.” Click here for “Running on Empty,” from columnist Sharron Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Boomer Stewardship: Caught Between the Generations
As the Boomers enter the latter half of their lives, many are struggling to find a stewardship style that fits their worldview. Long considered the “What’s in it for me” generation, Boomers may be open to new ways of looking at stewardship. Click here for  “Boomer Stewardship,” from Building Adult Ministries.

The Church and Money
Jesus taught us to be suspicious of the lure of money in our lives. That being the case, does your congregation or denomination have any literature explaining a proper Christian relationship to this powerful worldly force? Learn from this handy pamphlet from the Orthodox Church in America that helps its members understand money in their lives. Click here for The Church & Money, from the Orthodox Church in America.

March 23, 2009
Articles for Parish Magazines
Here is a collection of great articles you can use for your church newsletter, courtesy of the UK’s Christian Ecology Link. Its archive contains several year’s worth of pieces appropriate for the liturgical season OR the environmental season. Your congregation will enjoy them. Click here for Articles for Parish Magazines, from Christian Ecology Link.

Martin E. Marty: Economics
From one of the most respected voices in Mainline theology comes an assessment of the economic crisis on churches. “It is too soon to know how this recession-depression will work out for religious institutions and ideas. While watching and waiting, I decided to do what so many do: compare today to the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Click here for “Economics,” from Sightings, published by The Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago.

U.S Religious Landscape Survey
Researchers at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life have compiled an exhaustive survey of religious life in America, which provides insights galore.  Lots of details to reveal where your church and denomination fit into the American picture.  Click here for “U.S, Religious Landscape Survey, from the Pew Forum.

We Wish To See Jesus
“There are still those among us today who wish to see Jesus—neighbors near and far. Unless we are willing to follow in our Savior’s footsteps, unless we are willing to be ‘little Christs,’ how will they see him?” Click here for “We Wish To See Jesus,” this week’s lectionary reflection from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.

Theology of Stewardship
Here’s a Stewardship 101 article that lays out a foundation for all we do with all we have from God. “Stewardship is a way of life based upon conversion of heart. Why conversion? Because too often our hearts lack the vision and compassion that makes us true followers of Jesus Christ.” Click here for The Theology of Stewardship,” from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

March 16, 2009
Website: Greenfaith
Here’s a one-stop-shopping site for all your congregation’s environmental stewardship needs. Greenfaith started in 1992 by Christians and Jewish leaders in New Jersey who wanted the religious community to have a voice and in issues of the environment. It has grown significantly and offers tons and tons of good resources for education and inspiration, as well as how-tos and guidelines for getting started. Click here for Greenfaith.

Estate Planning: A Key to Faithful Stewardship
We all spend a good part of our life’s energy in building up our financial security. But if something were to happen, what would happen to it? “An estate plan provides a tool to distribute people's assets according to their faithful intent. It may solve some personal financial situations, augment retirement income, and certainly offer peace of mind throughout one's life.” From the Center for Christian Stewardship, offered by the United Methodist Church Board of General Discipleship.

Walking in God-Light
Was it any coincidence that Nicodemus met with Jesus at night – under the cover of darkness? “Walking in the light of God appears to leave one vulnerable—at least that’s the way it may feel initially. God-light strips bare our illusion, our pretense, and our pandering.” Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas' weekly lectionary reflection.

Kids in the Money Maze
From the time our children are born, they are assaulted by a dizzying array of advertisements and entertainment geared towards grooming them to be good consumers.  But parents can help their children make smart choices that reflect Christian values and sound stewardship. From the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Stewardship Resources.

The Story Behind Passing the Plate
Churches didn’t always rely on their members’ tithes and offerings to pay the bills. In Colonial America churches were through public funds, and the practice didn’t stop entirely until 1833. Read this fascinating history of church funding in America. From Christian History – a Christianity Today publication.

The Only Option
“Our congregations are standing today at the crossroads of a completely new era in reaching this society. One path leads to vibrant new growth, increased involvement and expending ministries, and the other path leads to a slow decline” Which path will your congregation choose? By guest columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

March 9, 2009
World Water Day Resources: ‘For I Was Thirsty’
Our planet’s supply of fresh water is under increasing pressure from exploding consumption, shifting weather and pollution, creating crises in many parts of the world. Why not speak about the problem on “World Water Day” March 22? From the home page of the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches. (Check out the other wonderful resources while you’re there! So you know: You need to create a username and password to access these materials. There is no cost!)

Eight Steps to Getting Out of Debt
Many of the people in the pews of your church are struggling with debt. The church can help by providing guidance, education and support. This piece by Rick Warren gives eight commonsense tips that can help your parishioners get back in the black. From Warren’s website, www.pastors.com.

5 Ways to Inspire Generosity and Church Giving in a Struggling Economy
The title says it all. Good, practical advice you can put to good use right away.  From stewardship guru Brian Kluth on www.kluth.org.

Words for Living
Our prayers, scripture and hymns are full of lofty intentions. “The problem comes along when somehow, against all our good wishes and hopes and dreams, life gets in the way. We try to do what we humans do worst—that is, run the show.” Sound familiar? From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Ministry in Hard Times
“In seminary, most of us learned little enough about managing a congregation in good times. … The future, at least in the short term, may require us to relearn concepts of stewardship and planning that stress thrift, the clever use of resources, and the courage to say no to low priorities.” Good reading! From the Alban Institute.

Stewardship in a Small Congregation
Challenges of aging facilities, changing demographics and shifts in religious tastes should empower the pastor to talk about money. “A pastor who does not talk about stewardship and even about tithing and then lets his or her congregation die a premature death is committing malpractice.” By SOLI contributor Dana Reardon.

March 2, 2009
Churches Must Address their Stewardship Problems Head-On
“The truth of the matter is that your membership is comprised of scores of people that are not good stewards. They attend your services, use your facilities and count as attendees, but they rarely pull their own weight in terms of dollars contributed.” Sound familiar? In Church Solutions magazine.

Beyond Fundraising: Developing a Year-Round Culture of Giving
“Church leaders can greatly influence the understanding of money and stewardship in the life of a congregation.  Generous giving is a spiritual gift that requires cultivation and growth, like any aspect of one’s Christian formation.” Read on for advice on how leaders can model and inspire generosity. From noted stewardship consultant David S. Bell from his website, www.davidsbell.org.

The Blessing of Limits
 “There is nothing like a good dose of reality to yield a blessing,” begins this thoughtful essay. “Reality is always about limits, but in some centuries we obscure it with ideas about limitless growth and possibility.  There are now both spiritual and material arguments assessing our idolatry of growth.  We can have progress—without growth.  We can have joy—without growth.  We can have community—without growth.” From an excellent webpage of the United Church of Christ webpage, Faith in Tough Economic Times.”

Getting Back to the Basics of Faith and Money
Here is good advice as the economy crumbles: “In the midst of fear, we proclaim hope. In the midst of death, we testify to life. In the midst of hate, we live love. In the midst of conflict, we offer peace. In the midst of moral confusion, we teach the basics of how to live abundantly.” From Bishop Scott Jones of the Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church.

You Are Worth Everything – Act Like You Are!
“Have you ever wondered what your life is worth?” Good question, for which there are lots of answers from lots of sources. But when it comes to the Gospel, we have the true answer! From Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Not So Dumb!
There’s real value in asking basic questions. “Many sophisticated, intelligent people tragically invested in Bernard Madoff’s ‘make believe’ investment company without knowing what they were investing in. They never asked the ‘dumb’ question, ‘where do all the dividends come from?’” By guest columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

February 23, 2009
Environmental Stewardship: Energy Star for Congregation
Here’s a two-fer: Save money and energy. The U.S. Department of Energy’s “Energy Star” program seeks to inform, inspire and equip folks to conserve and cut back. It has put together a wonderful set of materials to get congregations moving in the right direction. You’ll find all sorts of free information. Click here for Energy Star for Congregations.

Finding Hope in Hard Times: Seven Spiritual Practices
Everybody’s looking for coping strategies to handle today’s economic downturn, and this handy guide offers advice both practical and theological. A bonus, it can be downloaded and printed as an eight-page booklet. From The Episcopal Church  - Stewardship.

Wandering in the Wilderness
In her weekly reflection, Sharron R. Lucas says we need not wander in the desert to find wilderness. “Our wilderness may be that of addiction and substance abuse; it may be a jungle of depression and despair. Perhaps our wilderness is an economic wasteland.” From columnist Sharron Lucas.

How to Run a Successful Church Stewardship Program
This resource breaks a complicated issue down to simple steps. All you have to do is follow them! From eHow.com.

‘You Gotta Give ‘em Hope!’
A memorable line from the film “Milk” could apply to preachers as they minister to people suffering in today’s economic downturn. Fortunately, the Bible and the Gospel are uniquely suited to giving people hope. From SOLI editor Rob Blezard, posted in last week’s edition our free online newsletter.

February 16, 2009
Who Locked the Gates?
For a lot of unchurched people, congregations place a very high bar for admission, despite what church leaders say and believe. Unfamiliar habits, customs, prayers and liturgy can be daunting for a visitor. “It has got to be about as uncomfortable for many of them to come and feel connected to what we are doing as it would be for us churched folk to show up at a Hindu shrine and be expected to jump right into the ritual.” From the Alban Institute.

Giving and Doing Thanks
This letter on gratitude to his flock, Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk describes the foundation of stewardship. “The important thing is being thankful to God - in thoughts and words, in attentiveness to God's care for us, in confidence that even crosses are gifts, in daily responsiveness to God's action in our lives, and, of course, in stewardship, in doing thanks.” From the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Lectionary Reflection: Keep on Listening to Jesus
The Transfiguration offered the disciples a rare, privileged glimpse into the divine nature of Jesus. But the Gospel raises questions whether they were really in tune with what was going on. Perhaps we, too, could do a better job of paying attention. By SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Greening the Church: Witnessing to the Gospel Through Care of Creation
There are a lot of things a congregation can do to make care of creation a part of its ministry. Saving energy and promoting “green” initiatives not only provide cost savings, they also help Christians understand and live out their responsibility to take care of God’s earth. From The Epistle, a publication of Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Accepting Change
When it comes to surviving the economic crisis, churches need to focus on policy and attitude. “The ability to accept change is about mentally ‘moving over’ the old ways of doing something and looking at another option for achieving the same or a better result. The focus of your leadership should always be on your mission!” From guest columnist Tuck Aaker. Aaker writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

February 9, 2009
Don’t Mail to the Masses: Generational Differences in Giving
Think twice before you send out that “one-size-fits-all” stewardship letter to everyone on your church mailing list. Specifically, think about how it will be understood, processed and received by the different generations of members who receive it. This handy article can help avoid costly mistakes. From Circuit Rider, the magazine for United Methodist clergy.

The Top 5 Reasons Churches Don’t Grow
If your church is “stuck” with stagnant membership and giving, and you are “stuck” trying to figure out why, this article may help. A church growth consultant identifies the most common characteristics that keep a church stagnant. From consultant Bill Tenny-Brittian, on his self-named website.

PowerPoint: Stewardship as a Spiritual Issue
So, you think stewardship is a financial issue? Nope. The issue strikes to the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and a member of Christ’s church. From the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Lectionary Reflection: Choices
More than healing was at stake when Jesus stretched out his hand and healed the leper. “Jesus’ choice to restore this individual came with risk. By confronting the cultic system, he chose to tangle with the status quo and risk his own freedom of movement and security—not that Jesus seemed to worry very much about that.” The latest essay by SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Green Church
“There are many different elements to being a green church. If you are planning to build, analyze your congregation’s current situation as well as its plans for the future,” say the two architects who wrote this informative article. Then they give you a checklist of things to consider. From Church Solutions magazine.

Habit of Devotion? It’s Up to You
“All of us want to walk more closely with God and to grow as a faithful disciple of Christ. But our habits get in the way. We choose to let other desires take priority over our desire for spiritual health.” The latest essay by SOLI columnist Rob Blezard.

February 2, 2009
Stewardship in a Time of Financial Crisis
Everybody's feeling stressed out by the economy, but not everybody's panicking. Some churches are taking a deep breath, refocusing and finding out where God is calling them to serve. Here's a story about just such churches. From Episcopal Life, the magazine and news service of the Episcopal Church.

Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row
Some of the biggest practitioners of the "Prosperity Gospel” -- that God rewards faithfulness with wealth -- have come under hard times. "I believe the charismatic movement, of which I am a part, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul," said J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine. "God is shaking us." From Christianitytoday.com.

Lectionary Reflection: Made Whole to Serve
"Jesus calls us wholeness and healing. We respond to this call in various states of disrepair. The truth is that all of us bear the scars of this life." By SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Green Vineyard: Environmental Stewardship
Sure, you and your congregation want to help the environment, but what can one church do? Plenty. Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, MI, has taken steps to be an environmental leader in its area. Learn about its work and be inspired. From Vineyard Church.

A Special Time
“I feel sure that the greatest motivation for generous giving comes from the pulpit as a pastor teaches the congregation through Jesus’ words and stories, what giving is all about. But like any Ad executive will tell you, you have to be specific if you want people to 'catch the message' and you will have to tell them at least six or seven different times for it to sink in!” From stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker.

January 26, 2009
From Greed and Anxiety to Milk and Honey
Walter Bruggemann, one of our age’s most prophetic voices, weighs in on the economic crisis. Bruggemann identifies out the unbiblical thinking that caused the downturn – and the biblical thought that can set things aright! A truly great read! From Sojourners magazine. A bonus! Click here for Sojourners interview with Bruggemann.

Preaching for Total Commitment
Bill Hybels, founder of the Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, reflects on the ultimate stewardship of life issue – how to lead people to total discipleship. “If it's so hard to persuade people to commit themselves unreservedly to Christ, why bother? Why not settle for church attendance, or membership, or at least periodic service?” From Leadership Journal.

Collision Course
This week's Gospel reading indicates that disciples are called to a hard road. "We are called to step out of our pews, to pull away from the comfort and safety of our warm homes, and to confront a world of pain and suffering. As disciples of Christ and stewards of the good news, our course is set." B y SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Resurrection Economics: What the Early Church Teaches Us About Generosity
“When the early Christians grasped the reality of the empty tomb, a revolution of generosity took place. … The new Christ-followers began to view everything they “owned” as a sacred trust from God.” Good reading! From Kindred Spirit, the magazine of Dallas Theological Seminary.

The Lessons of ‘Financial Fasting’
“By doing without food, I learned how little of what I consume I actually need for nutrition. I saw the degree to which my incessant nibbling and snacking arose out of pure habit, and not real hunger. Then I decided to apply that to my finances.” From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

And Indeed It Is Very Good: A Pastoral Letter on Faith and the Environment
God calls faithful people to be concerned, active and involved with environmental issues. “We possess a reservoir of resources and creativity to respond with healing practices: socially, economically, environmentally, culturally, and in our ecumenical and interfaith partnerships” From the United Church of Christ. It’s one of many resources available at the UCC’s Earthcare page.

January 19, 2009
Responsible Stewardship of God’s Earth: The Ecological Thread
The earth is warming up, glaciers are melting, species are under stress, and all Christians seem able to do is bicker. Here’s a great PowerPoint that outlines the main streams of Christian thought about the environment, their implications and limitations. In the end, it proposes a “responsible” position. How Lutheran can you get? From Lutheran Education Australia.

Grants as a Source of Funding for Your Congregation
In lean economic times, churches need all the help they can get. Foundations and other funding agencies are one source of assistance. This article, from grant expert Joy Skjegstad, outlines the possibilities and the practicalities. From the Alban Institute.

Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood For All
Happy birthday! The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s comprehensive social statement on Economic Life turns 10 this year. Passed in a time of great plenty, the statement speaks prophetically about the role of money, wealth and capitalism to a culture informed by the Bible and Christian values. Good reading. Good for study! From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

MLK’s Short, Well-lived Life
“Martin Luther King Jr. is sometimes trivially remembered mostly as a famous Civil Rights spokesman who gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech on the National Mall, but the deep violence of his time and cause elevates him far above the merely famous. … King's murder is correctly remembered as a tragedy. But just as correctly, his life should be remembered as a triumph.” From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

Lectionary Reflection: Fishin' for Folks
"Jesus is good at meeting us and connecting with us in our own little corner of the universe. If we are open to his presence in our lives, we may find ourselves undertaking an amazing journey for a higher purpose." By SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

January 12, 2009
A Guide for Introducing Stewardship to Children
Everybody knows that healthy habits start early, whether it’s eating a healthy diet or using good table manners, so it stands to reason that children should learn something about stewardship. Here is a free 9-page guide to help church leaders do just that. Geared to a Roman Catholic congregation, it’s easily adaptable to any setting. From the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.

Keys for Overcoming Your Church’s Financial Crisis
Sure, offerings tend to rise and fall like the tides, but when does a dip signal a crisis, and what should a smart church leader do to cope? Here’s a great article listing some helpful “how-to” tips. From LifeWay publishing.

Time Management: Why We Can’t Stop!
Here’s an essay by a pastor who takes his Sabbath day off once a week and finds it refreshes and renews his life. He has more energy and focus for the other six days. His advice: You should, too! Good reading for every harried pastor. From Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox.

Following the Leader
“I wonder if Jesus came into our houses of worship today and issued the call to follow would he find any takers? Even in first century Palestine there were many people who couldn’t follow Jesus because of family, business, or personal reasons. Why should one expect it to be any different today?” By SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Personal Finance: Not Enough Money?
In today’s economy, it’s for sure that lots of people in your church are struggling with money. This informative article lays out the nuts and bolts of getting a handle on household finances. From Marriage Partnership magazine.

Enter the New Frugality
“There may be at least one silver lining in the current economic crisis. … At long last, people may be open to new learning on the value of money and its ability (and inability) to bring lasting happiness.” From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.

January 5, 2009
Economic Justice for All - “A renewal of economic life depends on the conscious choices and commitments of individual believers who practice their faith in the world.” writes the U.S. Catholic Bishops in this social statement on economic life. A weighty read, this comprehensive essay frames many of the problems and tough choices facing Christians in the free marketplace. A worthwhile resource. By the Office for Social Justice in the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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

Uncertain Times- “Times have always been uncertain for most of the people of the world.  The lives of the people of God are no exception.  Mary and Joseph didn’t count on the stock market or mutual funds.” From SOLI contributor Dana Reardon.

Teaching Stewardship to Young Children - Whether you are a parent, a pastor or a Sunday school teacher, this resource offers practical tips for giving children a sense of the value of a dollar. Good advice you can put into action today. From the BBC (Baptist Bible College) Foundation.

A Question of Batpismal Identity - “For Jesus, baptism immediately set in motion a chain of events and a controversial ministry that led down straight to death on the cross. For many of us it led to dinner, some gifts, and a Kodak moment or two for the family album." By SOLI columnist Sharron Reissinger Lucas.

Make the Key New Year’s Resolution: Balance - “Faithful stewardship starts with the assumption that God provides all that we need. If our lives are messed up, it frequently can be traced to bad choices we make because we are sinful, limited creatures who tend to act against our own best self-interest.” From SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard.


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