October 15 - 21, 2007

 SOLI/Update

    archive.stewardshipoflife.org


Here is an archive column from 2005.

Give your congregation the 'Malachi challenge'
 

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.

--Malachi 3:10

What would your congregation do if all member families tithed their income? Or, rather, what wouldn't your congregation do?

A close friend whose husband is a highly successful entrepreneur said they were persuaded to tithe after their pastor gave them the "Malachi challenge." Preaching one week on Malachi 3:10, the pastor simply dared the congregation to do what God asks -- to put God to the test by giving a tenth of their income to the church and see whether God would not "open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing." The pastor challenged the congregation to try it for just a month and see if their lives would not be blessed.

My friend's family did just that and saw many blessings in 30 days. Not in financial terms, where there really was no need, but in lots of little things that added up. For instance, the husband felt blessed that the schoolboy soccer team he had coached for years became the state champions. The experience persuaded the family to tithe all the time.

To the world's way of reckoning that often does not look further than a balance sheet, the Malachi challenge seems counterintuitive. But then, much does in the Kingdom of God, where the first are last and the last are first, and where the greatest is servant to all. But this year, as your church puts its financial and stewardship strategy into place, do your congregation a favor and give them the Malachi challenge.

-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
(Reprint rights gladly given for nonprofit, local use. Just include this note: "Copyright (c) 2007, The Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission.)
 
New This Week:
 
Stewardship of Creation Initiative
Stewardship of CreationClimate change is real, and it’s very scary. Here is a fantastic set of resources for the congregation or individual believer to put their faith into action on environmental issues. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada has put together these materials that will get you informed and keep you busy for years. Click here for Stewardship of Creation Initiative, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada


Self-sacrifice, not self-interest, vital to stewardship
Duncan GrayIn the midst of “stewardship season” for most churches, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Bishop Duncan Gray III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi reminds us what it’s all about in this brief but powerful essay. Click here for “Self-sacrifice, not self-interest,” published in the The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


Study finds South the most charitable region; Northeast the least
Catholic OnlineWhere does your congregation’s giving stack up against the regional norms? This resource may give you a measuring stick of sorts. The article reports on the findings of Empty Tomb Inc, which combed government data on charitable giving. It found that nationwide, households gave just under $1,000 to charity in 2005, the most recent year for which data are available. Click here for “Study finds South the most charitable region,” from Catholic News Service, posted on CatholicOnline. (To read more about study and excerpts from the book in which the findings are reported, click here for a page on Empty Tomb’s website.)

Stewardship from the Lectionary
Your ChurchLooking 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. Click here for "Stewardship from the Lectionary," from ELCA Stewardship Resources.