Oct. 9 - 15, 2006




E-giving Removes Hassles and Surprises

For the first time ever, this year I will have no "December surprise" in my church giving. The "December surprise" is the amount of money I am behind in my yearly pledge that I have to make up before the calendar year ends.

Funny how week-to-week as each year sailed by, I would consistently underestimate my running total of giving. So then every December, on top of Christmas bills, I would have to drain precious cash to "catch up" on my commitment to church.

Now my monthly contribution is taken right out of my bank account, thanks to Simply Giving, the free service offered through Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Other denominations have their own versions, but the idea is it takes the hassle out of giving -- the remembering to take the checkbook to church every Sunday, and then to write a double check for every Sunday service missed.

We have been emphasizing the Simply Giving program in my church, but so far very few people have signed up. One reason may be that many people are reluctant to reveal that they "only" give $10 a week. Perhaps they wish they could give more and don't want the church to know they give that amount, or perhaps they feel guilty and don't want to admit it to themselves.

But in most cases I think it would probably be better for folks to sign up for an automatic weekly deducation of $10 than to give haphazardly and inconsistently, as I used to, and get a "December surprise." Families that struggle to afford $10 a week surely would be overwhelmed with the realization they were $120 behind in the middle of December.

The automatic giving program also allows members of the church to plan more easily incremental increases. For example, sign up for an automatic donation of $10 a week, and next year increase it to $12, and the year after that, $14. You get the idea.

So the church benefits from regular donations, members benefit with hassle-free giving, and the best of all for disorganized souls like myself: No "December surprise!"

 --Rob Blezard, Editor and Webmaster
* Permission is eagerly granted to publish the message for local, nonprofit use. Please drop me a line at rcblezard@earthlink.net to let me know you're using it, and be sure to publish it with the following notice: 
(c) Copyright 2006 by the Rev. Rob Blezard of the Stewardship of Life Institute, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission.

New this week:

Stewardship Bible Studies for Group Discussion
Here is a wonderful way to begin teaching Bible-based stewardship to members of your congregation. The resource is a compilation of seven studies on topics ranging from the environment to personal discipleship.    Click here for "Stewardship Bible Studies for Group Discussion," from  The Methodist Church of Great Britain.

God Never Becomes Complacent. Should We?
"When we give, we give to God. And as stewards we are also charged with managing the money and caring for God's property, but it never belongs to us. So that day never dawns when we get to give less or get to relax or retire."  Click here for the latest weekly column by Pastor Dana Reardon. To read past columns, click here.

The Money-Wise Church
Financial experts cite various reasons for why people are giving less to churches, including poor giving habits and lack of teaching on stewardship. Others say people are giving less because they've lost confidence in how the church handles money. ... Churches can win back the confidence of givers by becoming better money managers. Click here for "The Money-Wise Church," from YourChurch magazine.

Giving is a Spiritual Discipline
"We are working hard to make it an exercise in discipleship that will invite our people to venture more deeply in their faith walk, and NOT play into their sense of guilt or shame. Sure, we could probably wring out a few extra bucks by making people feel bad, but that's not going to create any of the 'cheerful givers' that Paul talks about. " Click here for this column by SOLI webmaster Rob Blezard from last week's edition of SOLI/Update, our free email newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

A Theology of Stewardship.
Growing in stewardship involves four distinct phases, according to this study guide that provides a biblically based program for a classroom or workshop series. Can be done on its own or incorporated or adapted for your own stewardship drive. Click here for "A Theology of Stewardship." Good stuff from Joy Lutheran Church (ELCA), Gurnee, Ill. This week's Treasure Chest offering.