May 31, 2004



Is There Happiness in the Mainline?


Just for fun, do a Google News search on “happiness” and begin to sift through the responses. You’ll get a trove of hits on consumerism, plus idolatry ranging from hedonism to asceticism, selfishness to selflessness, voluntary simplicity to compulsive complexity. And the Dalai Lama pops up in every 20 or so responses.


But what you won’t get is Mainline Protestantism. What? Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Congregationalists aren’t into happiness?


Of course we’re into happiness. But something tends to get lost on the way from Scripture to the pulpit. Or maybe the life-giving message of the Gospel has just been lost in the institutional lethargy and cultural ennui that marks much of life in the Mainline.


Stewardship of life is, at its heart, a focus on what’s really important: God’s love and saving power that is the Gospel. This leads to happiness – measured in peace, joy, hope, love, courage, purpose and satisfaction. If the general perception is otherwise, perhaps we need to communicate the message in a fresh way.


Jesus told us to not hide our lamps under a basket, but rather put them on the lampstands so the light can be seen by all. Or if not seen, at least picked a Google search.


-Rob Blezard, Webmaster and editor (

New This Week, May 31 - June 1:
 Finding Joy
"Don't miss it: Taste the great delight that God is pleased to give," writes David Miller, Editor of The Lutheran magazine. "We are invited to know God, to experience God's own heart, by being caught up in the swirling cycle of giving and receiving that is the essence of God's creation."  Miller's essay is in the May issue, entirely is devoted to stewardship and mission support.  Check out the great study guides, too.
 Top 5 Reasons Why People Give
This article sheds a lot of light on a subject that's often mysterious to many church leaders. "Of course, there is no greater cause than the cause of Christ. However, that is not enough to motivate people to give to your ministry, especially when others can claim that they exist for the same cause.  Churches that strategically assimilate people into the life of their fellowship, and then present to them a compelling vision for the ministry, are more likely to stimulate sacrificial giving of the kind that goes well beyond the normal 1 percent or 2 percent of a person's income." Must reading in Church Executive magazine.
 Overcoming Our 'Musical Chairs' Mentality
We live as if there is not enough, as if something is going to be pulled out from under us at any minute.  We had better get ours before any one else does. It doesn't matter how poor or how rich you are, chances are you are playing this game.  Those of us who do not consider ourselves rich think it is okay for us to play this game." In Dana Reardon's weekly reflection.
The Hows and Whys of Money Leadership
Wow! Here's a free, seven-part curriculum for leaders who want to plumb the depths of their congregation's financial soul. It covers attitudes about money, congregational finances, leadership, money and theology and other topics. A real gem for congregations that find themselves stuck and don't know how to get going. Developed cooperatively by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Alban Institute and Lilly Endowment, it was principally written by Mark Vincent, lead partner for Design for Ministry, a consulting firm in Wisconsin.
Two Questions, Two Incredible Answers
"Do you know what else God does with this 'everything in heaven and in the earth' that is God's? Listen, again, to the psalmist: The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their meat in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire or every living thing." That's the "second" thing God does with this "everything in heaven and in the earth" that is God's . . . God shares it with you . . freely gives you everything you need to nourish, to sustain, to make rich and full the life God has given you . . .."  By the Rev. George Haynes, in the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.