The Joy of Giving

The Joy of Giving

General
The culture lies. It tells the people in our pews that the most important human need is to be loved. Christ reminds us that equally important is our need to give love. Consider the flutter of anxiety that comes whenever we give a gift on an occasion that matters. It can take forever from the moment we place that gift in the receiver's hands until it is opened. We hold our breaths for a response. If the gift isn't liked, it hurts. If the gift delights, then we're more delighted than the receiver! There are reasons for this vulnerability. Some are rooted in our endless insecurities. But the basic reason that gift-giving makes us so vulnerable is that every gift we give is a symbol of our love. It's a…
Read More
Registration Opens for North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy

Registration Opens for North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy

General
Online registration for this event is now closed. If you are interested in attending, please call The Ecumenical Stewardship Center at 855-278-4ESC (4372). In the gospel story of the loaves and fishes, a simple meal in an unsophisticated setting becomes a bountiful feast: not because of elaborate preparations or an extensive menu, but because of the power of God and the faith of the participants. No matter how you interpret the story, generous giving, faithful stewardship, and trust in God are the elements we find at this extensive table. The 2013 North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy (NACCP) will explore how faith communities can Set the Table for a Generous Culture in the context in which we find ourselves today. The North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy, sponsored by the…
Read More
Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation Re-released as a Digital Resource

Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation Re-released as a Digital Resource

General
To be a good steward is the call for individual Christians and for congregations, regardless of size. Congregations have a responsibility to teach, inspire, and model good stewardship. Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation is a stewardship resource especially created with small congregations in mind. Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation was written by Clark Hargus, Disciples of Christ pastor, and has been used successfully by small membership congregations throughout North America for more than two decades. Originally titled Stewardship in the Small Membership Rural Congregation, the title and text have been edited in this digital release to recognize that small congregations exist in a variety of geographic contexts and to reflect today's communications options. With more than 30 pages of materials, Stewardship in the Small Membership Congregation is packed…
Read More
2012 Leadership Seminar Registration

2012 Leadership Seminar Registration

General
Online registration for Generosity in Emerging Generations is now closed. If you are interested in attending, please call ESC at 855-278-4ESC (4372). Are emerging generations generous? How do they make decisions about generosity? How do they share their ideas about generosity with each other? Does God have anything to do with it? Generosity in Emerging Generations will explore these questions and more as attendees learn from and interact with our plenary speakers Gabe Lyons and Peggy Kendall. Generosity in Emerging Generations will take place at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel November 28-29, 2012.       Gabe Lyons is the author of The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America and the founder of Q, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common…
Read More
Giving and Receiving

Giving and Receiving

General
Jane is a university student--that's another way to spell "poor." She has very little left over at the end of a week, perhaps enough for a modest night out with friends. Food, textbooks, and laundry are the extent of her budget. On Sunday night Jane regularly heads home to mooch off Mom's table-it's better than paying for bland residence food. And besides, Dad always slips her a "loan," a small gift of money to ease the tension of higher learning. On one of her weekend pilgrimages to that Sabbath celebration, Jane had stopped to fill up her thirsty car at a local gas station that was holding a promotion: buy thirty litres and get your name entered automatically in a drawing for a shopping spree in the mall across the…
Read More
A Parable of the Servant Steward

A Parable of the Servant Steward

General
At the conclusion of the Red River floods, an elderly couple returned to their home once the waters had receded, as the sun was sinking over the horizon. Their farm had been inundated with water to the eaves troughs. Machinery was hopelessly corroded; seed grains were soggy and useless; livestock was lost; household goods were mildewed beyond recognition; the insurance policy was swamped. No coverage could replace what thev had lost. Though they had grown up in Christian homes, neither was particularly religious. They weren't angry dissenters or well-versed atheists. Church life had drifted away over the years like the little puffs of topsoil from their fields. No excuse, no great avalanche of animosity, just a steady decline. There was neither need nor reason to take it seriously. God had…
Read More
A Fresh Approach

A Fresh Approach

General
Gathered in an open fellowship area just outside their new sanctuary, members of the Stewardship and Finance Committee met to address their financial situation. They were preparing for a second debt retirement campaign. It was evident there was little energy in the room. They confessed as much. The initial fundraising campaign and first debt-retirement emphasis went very well. Energy for retiring debt began to wane among the membership as the new sanctuary was no longer new. The committee decided on a new approach. When they looked around at what they had, they discovered a whole bunch of children with lots of energy. For several weeks prior to their debt retirement commitment Sunday, they received a special offering during the children’s message. Informed ahead of time, the worshiping congregation was prepared.…
Read More
Symposium on Preaching and Stewardship Features the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes

Symposium on Preaching and Stewardship Features the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes

General
The Rev. Dr. James Forbes will be the featured speaker at the Symposium on Preaching and Stewardship June 12-14 at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis. Forbes, a noted author, scholar, and preacher, was voted one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English speaking world in 1996 and has twice been named by Ebony magazine as one of the greatest Black preachers in the U.S. After 13 years of teaching homiletics at Union Theological Seminary he was called to be the first African American to serve the Riverside Church in New York City. He currently serves as the president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, a national ministry of healing and spiritual revitalization. The Symposium will also include workshops and other lectures on the vital subject of stewardship. The…
Read More
Giving God My Day

Giving God My Day

General
"Be still, and know that I am God!" - Psalm 46:10, NRSV To be still reveals a willingness to value personal quiet time with God. No iPod, radio, TV, pager, cell phone. Just sitting quietly in the company of God. It takes practice. Jesus says that his followers hear his voice (John 10:27). Reserving a place and time each day to "hear" the whisper of God allows God to put thoughts into our minds. As one person has put it, "God speaks every day! What is the quality of your antenna?" God invites us to hear and respond. From the often-ragged edges we can move closer to the center of life, to God. Time with God each day allows us to know that we are treasured and loved by God.…
Read More
Mennonite Church Stewardship Ministries Focus on Partnership

Mennonite Church Stewardship Ministries Focus on Partnership

General
The nineteen denominations which are partners with the Ecumenical Stewardship Center often work collaboratively to develop ESC’s resources, services, and events. Mennonite Church USA—an ESC denominational partner—accomplishes their own stewardship ministry through a staffing partnership between two denominational entities: their national organization, and Everence, the stewardship and financial services agency for the church. “There are four Mennonite Church USA agencies caring for mission, education, communications, and stewardship, respectively,” explains Marty Lehman, Associate Executive Director for Churchwide Operations at Mennonite Church USA. “Everence serves as our stewardship agency.” Everence describes its role as connecting faith and finances, including offering an array of financial services along with stewardship education opportunities for individuals and congregations. Everence’s financial services reflect this faith focus by providing matching grants for congregations, health insurance for pastors, and…
Read More