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The Treasure Chest

Treasure ChestThe Treasure Chest of Resources gathers the best of the Stewardship of Life Institute website. These are resources that have already been highlighted as "New This Week!" and are listed deep in the archives, but deserve more attention.

Eight ways congregations raise pledges.If you're looking for a way to increase giving at your church (and what leader is not?), here's an article for you! This piece looks at the strengths of eight pledge-raising approaches in order to help churches find the one that best fits their own situation. Good reading for the stewardship novice and seasoned hand alike. Click here for "Eight ways." From the Alban Institute's Congregational Resource Center.

Pastor: Fund Raiser for Mission. "The time has come in our church when we, as clergy and leaders, can no longer divorce ourselves from raising money for mission. To a present culture of materialism, selfishness, and consumerism, we are called to model in our own lives and teach others Christian financial stewardship." Click here for "Pastor: Fund Raiser for Mission," by Jerry L. Schmalenberger, former president and professor of parish life at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. From the Lutheran Laity Movement archives.

Life on the Edge: A Small Congregation Redefines Its Mission. "If North America is now a mission field, this fact has tremendous implications for small congregations. Being on the margins can provide fresh opportunities for offering bold witness. It is often a better position for discovering mission than is the center. In scripture, faithfulness seldom comes from, or results in, large numbers or success. God often elects the small for extraordinary missionary service." Click here for "Life on the Edge." By the Rev. Richard S. Bliese in The Christian Century

Proclaiming stewardship. Here's a gem for pastors who want to emphasize stewardship from the pulpit and classroom. Susan K. Hedahl, professor of homiletics, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, offers tips for sermons and temple talks. "Ask what the stewardship profile of your congregation is -- Before public proclamation, it is necessary to ask: Where have we been? As a congregation, what gifts do we already employ for ourselves and others? Where do we hope to be in the months, the years ahead? Which resources do we need to consider, expand, develop?" From the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives

Miracle Sunday stewardship. Here's a program outline for launching a financial campaign for a major project. Through the example and experience of a local church that wanted to pay off its mortgage to save interest and free up money for mission, you'll get ideas on how your own church can manage a successful stewardship campaign. From the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Giving extravagantly. "We are people of great abundance, and we can afford to give extravagantly. Thousands of children still die each day from hunger in this world. How can we continue to deny an abundance that makes dieting a higher priority for us than searching for food? ... But the most important reason of all to give extravagantly is because we must give that way if we want to participate in the extravagant love of God, the giver of Jesus Christ." Click here for "Giving Extravagantly. Prophetic words in an essay by Margaret G. Payne, Bishop of the New England Synod.

Douglas John Hall: Stewardship as a Human Vocation. With the world facing crises on many fronts, now more than ever it is time for people of faith to embrace their God-ordained vocations as stewards. From Douglas John Hall, one of North America's most prophetic theologian, an essay given as a lecture last year at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary. Click here for "Stewardship as a Human Vocation. (PDF file requires Adobe Reader.)

Christian History Corner: Serving God with Mammon. John Wesley's wisdom for hard economic times: earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can. Insights from Wesley, the 18th century founder of the Methodist Church, reported in this illuminating article. Click here for "Serving God with Mammon," from ChristainityToday.com.

Giving hilariously: No-nonsense stewardship. “For God loves a cheerful giver,” St. Paul writes in Cor. 9:6-7. When greed is in charge, we cling to money and possessions as if they were permanently ours. When we rise above greed, we give to God's work 'hilariously.' The Greek word we translate 'cheerful' is 'hilarious.' Paul challenges us to give 'hilariously.' That means giving spontaneously and giving joyfully. The Macedonians rose above greed by giving hilariously. So can we!” Click here for "Giving hilariously," from the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Where your treasure is, your heart will be also. "In our lives we want to desperately hold on to what we have -- people, relationships, material possessions, power, prestige, and even money. And we don't want anyone else to tell us what to do with any of them. We tend to think they are ours to have and to hold from this time forth and forever more. But these are only temporary." Click here for "Where your treasure is." Inspirational reading from the Rev. Kristi Beebe in The Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Planned giving awareness in the local church.  "It would appear that God and the IRS agree on one thing -- we can't take it with us," says this compelling article that explains why churches are frequently overlooked in their members' wills -- and how pastors and stewardship leaders can change things. Click here for "Planned giving awareness." Good reading from Planned Giving Today -- a newsletter for philanthropic professionals.

For Youth! 10-10-80: Empowering Steward Leaders. It's a problem facing many a parent and congregation: How to teach youth to handle money responsibly. This program inspires young people to give 10 percent, save 10 percent and spend 80 percent. Good lessons for people of all ages. Includes free online materials and a DVD available for a nominal cost of $5. Click here to learn more about 10-10-80, produced by three Lutheran Synods in Wisconsin, the ELCA Department for Communication and Augsburg Fortress Publishers, with funding from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Bible Study: Stewardship as a lifestyle. This brilliant and insightful resource by former Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson helps bring church members into a fuller understanding of holistic stewardship. "Stewardship is like a magnet passing over the jumbled pins and needles of our life, organizing them into a meaningful pattern. Stewardship is the Christian lifestyle." Click here for "Stewardship as a lifestyle."

The church's call to environmental stewardship
. The biblical call to stewardship will lead us to foster quality of life. The quality of life that is measured only by material goods and economic factors is incomplete. Total quality of life must include the health and stability of the natural world, relative justice and peace for people, and the free and true worship of God Almighty. It is on this basis, on this biblical vision, that Christians are motivated to respond to ecological crises." Click here for "The church's call to environmental stewardship," by Gilson A.C. Waldkoenig in the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Time and Money: When either one runs low, you've got a problem. "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?" Click here for "Time and Money," from Your Church magazine.

Down-to-Earth Theology. One of the most prophetic voices in American Christian thought, Sojourners magazine devotes its entire March 2004 issue to the environment. Every article is rich, provocative, passionate and faithful. Free access requires registration. Highlights:
Consider the Turtles of the Field - Many evangelicals find themselves in an emerging theological habitat, where care of creation is central to mission.
Rockfish, Redfish, Stockfish, Foodfish - Seven biblical principles for the care of creation.
To Serve and Preserve - The Bible calls us to dominion over creation. Or does it? 
Sins of Emission  - No politician seriously believes that Americans are willing to deal with global warming. Is it too late to prove them wrong?  By Bill McKibben.

Faith-raising, not fund-raising. "Saddleback Community Church's 'next step' strategy of helping even the most disconnected individual take a step of faith in God’s direction, allows us to help guide anyone’s growth towards God’s intentions. Even in the difficult area of becoming a financially fit and faithful steward."  Insights from Saddleback Community Church, founded by Rick Warren. Click here for "Faith-raising, not fund-raising," from Building Church Leaders magazine.

The Spirituality of Stewardship. "Stewardship is undeniably fruitful. Where, over time, more and more parishioners become engaged in committing their time, talent and treasure to the work of the Gospel, the Church flourishes. Parishes report an upsurge in volunteer engagement, a greater fervor in the prayer life of the community, a more effective outreach to those in need, an increase in religious and priestly vocations, and so on." Click here for "The Spirituality of Stewardship," by Thomas Collins, Archbishop of the Edmonton, Ontario, Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

Good Stewardship Begins with the Pastor. "Like any top executive in a successful corporation, the pastor must be willing to put forth time and effort far beyond what he or she expects of his or her people. The pastor sets the standard and the tone. If a pastor is not willing to make some sacrifices, he or she should find another less demanding profession. It’s that simple." By Robert Zimmer. Click here for "Good Stewardship." From the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

Stewardship: Sharing the abundance. Here's a wonderful congregational resource for novice stewardship leaders and veterans alike. It provides a solid bibliography, tips, lists of websites and resources for teaching stewardship. Broad in its approach and deep in its detail, Sharing the Abundance is useful and practical. Click here for Sharing the abundance. From the Resource Center of the Eastern North Dakota Synod.

Sermon: The Kingdom's cost/benefit ratio. "What happens when we take the world's common tool for evaluating worth and apply it to things of faith? Well, it gets interesting, as you can read in this sermon. Click here for "The Kingdom's cost/benefit ratio" By the Rev. Daniel Mangler, pastor of Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Estes Park, CO.

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. It was developed cooperatively by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Alban Institute and Lilly Endowment.  Click here for "The Hows and Whys of Money Leadership."

A Shower of blessings stewardship thrust "What can we do to motivate members about their response to God's blessings?" That was the question stewards from Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA, Eau Claire, Wis., asked. The answer is this full stewardship program. Click here for "A shower of blessings," part of the archives of the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Tru-envy? From America's obsession with a perfect lawn, Jon Pahl of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia makes a religious connection: "We seem somehow uncertain of our salvation, so we seek enemies to conquer and control, and we seem driven constantly to display our power for others to see. Can there be a connection between the way we treat dandelions and the way we treat our neighbors? The way we treat the poor and sick and suffering of the world?" Click here for "Tru-envy."  Reprinted, with permission, from the April 15, 2004 issue of Sightings, produced by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Christian Giving in God's World. This insightful essay answers some of the fundamental questions. "Is giving money to God optional? Absolutely not! Christians are commanded by God to give of their possessions to the work of God," writes the Richard Bucher, pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, LCMS, Lexington, Ky. Click here for Christian Giving in God's World.

 
Jerry Schmalenberger: Stewardship of the family. Here's a timeless paper on family and marriage from a noted theologian.  "Faithfulness and lifelong fidelity must be stewarded very much like we preserve, conserve, and treasure other priceless possessions and natural resources." Click here for Stewardship of the family.

Widow's Walk ... Does Jesus idealize poverty? Stewards love Jesus' story of the "widow's mite" as the ideal illustration of sacrificial giving. Here's a fresh wrinkle: "Our culture counsels us to became like the honored scribes, but Jesus counsels us to become like the dishonored widow. We are to model our lives on one we would normally overlook, being too busy admiring the lifestyles of the rich and famous." Click here for Widow's Walk. By Mary Anderson, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, Columbia, S.C., printed in The Christian Century.

How To Create a Mission Endowment Fund: A guide for Congregations. FREE BOOKLET! Such a fund can be a vehicle to support and enhance ministries.  This vision attracts planned and future gifts as people desire to Leave a Legacy for Ministry: Gifts that Nurture the Whole Church. Click here for the resource. From the ELCA Foundation, free PDF download. While on the page, check out the other helpful resources, such as how to encourage donations, bequests and life insurance donations.

Jürgen Moltmann: Reconciliation with Nature. This fine essay by one of our era's pre-eminent Protestant theologians is just one in a classic edition of Word & World, published by Luther Seminary, St. Paul.

Tithing: A step in walking the way of ChristJesus did tell his disciples to pay their taxes to Caesar; rendering to him the coin that has his face on it, but giving to God what is God's.  I guess that raises the question: what part of your life belongs to God?  Have you given it all to God, or just part of it?  Is Jesus the ruler of your life, or someone you follow on Sunday from 10:30 to noon?" Click here for Tithing. By The Rev. Dr. Walk Jones, pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church, Pensacola, Fla.

Lighting the first candle. "We shall never know the true meaning of being faithful stewards until we are prepared to risk the transitory for the sake of the ethereal." Click here for the article, by Robert Buhr, in the Lutheran Laity Movement archives.

Stewardship Practice: A Spiritual Discipline in Response to Grace. "The practice of stewardship begins with hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is the power of the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament that changes our hearts and wills so that we become the generous children of God." Click here for the article. This and other insights from Gary Hedding, Assistant to the Bishop, Northwest Synod of Wisconsin and made available through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.

Stewardship and vocation. This essay explores the connections between these two concepts. "I have managed to say in one breath two words that you usually only hear in church. What’s more, they are words you usually don’t want to hear at all! Stewardship and vocation have the bad reputation of simply being ‘spiritual’ ways of talking about your money and your job." Good reading from The Rev. Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, professor at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary.

Idea Booklet for Special Giving. A very insightful congregation put together a sort of menu of gift ideas for families and other donors who wanted to give something to the church. It was a simple matter of matching a wish list of church needs -- everything from new lights in the parking lot to new pew cushions --  with estimated prices. Available in HTML or in RTF for easy editing for your own congregation's needs. From First Lutheran Church, ELCA, Eau Claire, Wis., and made available through the Association of Lutheran Resource Centers.