Jan. 31 - Feb. 6, 2005





The power of a great idea


Back in 1988, Brad Smith was a seminary intern at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., when he wrote a prayer for worship on Super Bowl Sunday:  "Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without even a bowl of soup to eat."


The line got him thinking, and Smith turned his prayer into Souper Bowl of Caring. On game day, the young people of his church collected $1 donations in big soup pots and donated the money to food programs.


Later called as associate pastor to Spring Valley, Smith began to network with other area churches on Souper Bowl of Caring.


And the idea grew.


Last year, 12,761 congregations of many denominations participated, raising a total of $4,260,531 for charity. Equally important as raising money for a good cause, Souper Bowl also gets the youth of the church involved in helping others. In the congregation where I serve, the youth will be posted at the doorways with big pots next Sunday. Itís a highlight of their year.


Souper Bowl of Caring. Itís doing a whole lot of good. And to think, Souper Bowl grew organically, as a grassroots effort. All from a great idea by a creative seminary intern at an ordinary Mainline church.


What great idea do YOU have for ministry?


--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster



New This Week:


40 Days of Generosity

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



No snow-makeup days for stewardship
"Pastors and treasurers worry about bad-weather Sundays that keep people away from church. Unlike schools, churches don't get to make up snow days, and any lost income is lost indeed. Some have suggested that this is because we have a mentality in church that our offering is like paying for a performance, and if the performance didn't happen, then we don't have to pay." Click here for Pastor Dana Reardon's weekly column.
 Why give to the ungrateful?
"Those of us who are active in church ministry can learn something else from the model Jesus provides. When we give of ourselves, what do we expect in return? When we offer cups of cold water in Christ's name, what response do we foresee? Quenched recipients smiling shyly at us, their eyes shining with gratitude?" Click here for this insightful essay written by Susan Werkema and published in BuildingChurchLeaders.com.
Dying church replants; growing church rebrands

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

 A lifetime guarantee
"At a meeting with a stewardship team recently, one of the team members asked me how much I could guarantee that they would achieve in their stewardship appeal. Ö One thing I could guarantee I told them, was that they would increase the awareness and understanding of the members of what stewardship was all about." Click here for Inspiration and advice from Tuck Aacker, columnist for the ELCA Stewardship Resources.  

 Stewardship, Faith and Life

 "Although we profess a wider understanding of stewardship, we have allowed it to be primarily focused on the given of money. Even when we add time and talent to our discussion, the message we hear is related to money. We need to focus on the 'need of the giver to give' versus the 'need of the institution to receive.'  " Click here to read the essay by the Rev. Duane Englehardt. Part of the Lutheran Laity Movement archives, and this week's Recycling Bin feature.