December 1 - 6, 2003
Crunch Time for Charity
Help! That's what churches and other
nonprofits across our nation are saying as the winter approaches, the holidays
are on us and the needy crowding at the door. The charities are working
heroically as their cupboards and bank accounts are emptying at an alarming
As the articles in this week's
Gleanings reveal, the poor economy whacks charities with a double
whammy: It impoverishes families who then seek assistance from nonprofits, but
it also dries up charitable donations as would-be benefactors tighten their
Meanwhile, we're bombarded with
advertisements for Christmas gifts we'll buy mostly for people who don't need
them. In fact, the big problem most of us have is finding a gift for people
who already have everything they could possibly need or want.
Here's an alternative: Instead of giving
Dad yet another power tool to crowd the garage workbench or Aunt Gladys
another Icelandic wool sweater to stow away in the cedar chest, make a
donation in their name to your congregation's food pantry, to the local soup
kitchen, to a church toy drive, to the Salvation Army -- you get the idea.
God knows there are plenty of families
that need the help more than your grandson needs a new MP3 player. And isn't
that more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas?
What do you think? I welcome your
New this week: Dec. 1-6
Marty: 'Tipping the Plate'
"Whoever does what Jesus-in-the-gospels did, and examines
the collection plate as it goes by, still will find plenty of "mites" or
one-dollar bills. ... My bottom line: our giving to all causes, beginning
with church, per capita among givers -- and without averaging in non-givers
in the population -- is closer to "tipping" than "sacrifice" or "generous
published by the Martin Marty
Stewardship, Faith and
"Although we profess a wider understanding of
stewardship, we have allowed it to be primarily focused on the giving of
money. Even when we add time and talent to our discussion, the message we
hear is related to money. We need to focus on the 'need of the giver to
give' versus the 'need of the institution to receive.' " Essay by
Duane Englehardt. In the
Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.
Gratitude for God's Blessings is Enough
"As I sit
between Thanksgiving and the Advent of our God, I plan to just sit and
contemplate how selflessly God gives, without any strings and without any
obligations. It is on the silence of that thought that true thankfulness
arises." In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection
Money: When either one runs low, you've got a problem. Are you prepared?
Most pastors are not formally trained in
financial management. Yet in many churches, it is the pastor who assumes
responsibility for properly managing church finances. Is the pastor aware of
the monetary risks that can threaten a ministry? From
Your Church magazine.
Too Much of a Good
"There's no doubt about God's
ability to give us more than we can use. But that's the story of the
StewardLife. The more we manage well, the more God will give. He promises it
in many places in Scripture (Jeremiah 33:8-9; Malachi 3:10b-12, Luke 6:38).
Why would He do that? He wants us to be the distributors of His grace and
blessings to the whole world in His name."
from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod