Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul

General
Not long ago, two ministers of the gospel were waiting in line for seating at a restaurant. There were two immediate problems. First, the restaurant was popular because it served good food and secondly, the restaurant was smaller than your average fast food place. But the ministers, who frequently preach on patience, were offering a visible sermon by their calm demeanor. No matter that several people already seated appeared to be eating their meals extremely slowly. The ministers were next in line when suddenly like a mighty wind a group of six people came in behind them. And as luck sometimes has it, the next table to become available was one which could easily sit both ministers with room to spare. It could also seat all six of the people behind them in line. If this were you, what would you…
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Registration Opens for Stewardship and Culture Online Course

Registration Opens for Stewardship and Culture Online Course

General
Registration is now open for the Stewardship and Culture: Building Contagious Generosity online course, jointly offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and transformingthechurch.org. The Rev. Dr. Betsy Schwarzentraub is the instructor. The Stewardship and Culture: Building Contagious Generosity course includes audio-graphic video lessons that students can view at their convenience and interaction through live conference calls and online discussion forums. Because transformative stewardship includes understanding of our culture, the Stewardship and Culture: Building Contagious Generosity course will explore how our culture influences faithful stewardship and generous giving. Students will be able to frame insightful critical questions about consumerism, embrace God’s vision of sufficiency, recognize the additional impact of technology on consumerism, and begin to create a Generosity Plan for their congregation. Topics include critiquing mainstream -culture assumptions about achievement and…
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An Unexpected Holy Moment

An Unexpected Holy Moment

General
A few years ago, this familiar story was used as our offering statement. It can be easily found from multiple sources through Internet searches. A $100 bill, a $20 bill, and a $1 bill were together at the end of their useful lives, about to be shredded. The $100 bill says, “I’ve seen the whole world during my lifetime, Why, I’ve been on cruises in the Caribbean, safaris in Africa, and vacations in Europe.” The $20 bill says, “Well, I’ve not done quite as well as you, but I have been to Atlantic City, Disneyland, and Starbucks.” They both turn to the $1 bill and ask, “How about you? Where have you been?” Not wanting to be outdone, the $1 says, “I’ve seen the whole country as well—going from church to church to church.” The $100 bill asks, “What’s a…
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Leadership and Extravagant Giving

Leadership and Extravagant Giving

General
As I visit congregations to encourage growth in financial giving, I often encounter two responses. The first is, “Don’t forget the importance of gifts of time and talent.” And the second: “But this congregation is already giving as much as it can.” My heart sinks when these evasions of the challenge to grow are put forth by the pastor. I know then that it is unlikely that the congregation will ever be able to break free from the seductive myth of scarcity. It takes a strong spiritual leader to guide people out of resistance and reluctance into the delicious freedom of God’s abundance. The truest mark of a mature faith leader and community is a life of extravagant giving. There are many reasons why it is difficult for pastors to…
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2015 Leadership Seminar Features Shane Claiborne and Kelly Johnson

2015 Leadership Seminar Features Shane Claiborne and Kelly Johnson

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"Where Your Treasure Is: Christians and Wealth in North America" is the theme for the 2015 Ecumenical Stewardship Center Leadership Seminar which will take place December 2-4, 2015 at the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Leadership Seminar explores trending topics in current culture and their implications for stewardship and generosity. Those who attend Leadership Seminar can expect to engage with plenary speakers and with each other in thought-provoking and challenging dialog. Since statistics show that by 2020 the richest 1% of the population will control 54% of the world's wealth, that persons in Canada and the US have more than a third of the world's wealth, and that the percentage of giving has been stagnant at approximately 2% for US and Canadian citizens for decades with…
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Registration Opens for Holistic Stewardship Online Course

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Click here for complete information about "Holistic Stewardship". Registration is now open for the Holistic Stewardship online course taught by Ms. Sandy Lindahl, commissioned minister for holistic stewardship in the United Church of Christ and Principal and Lead Consultant at Lindahl Consultants. The course is jointly offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and TransformingTheChurch.org. This class illuminates the reach of stewardship practices far into our personal and societal lives. Holistic Stewardship involves recognizing our choices and making decisions that contribute to the wholeness of our lives and those of others, even of all Creation.  Moving beyond the traditional questions of using our "time, talent and treasure" this content raises questions about cultural assumptions, compares economic models, and considers the global implications of personal and communal decisions. "The nature of enough"…
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Registration Opens for Theological Principles of Stewardship Online Course

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Click here for complete information about "Theological Principles of Stewardship". Registration is now open for the Theological Principles of Stewardship online course, jointly offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and transformingthechurch.org. Rev. Dr. Joshua Brockway, a member of denominational staff for spiritual life and discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, is the instructor. The Theological Principles of Stewardship course includes six audio-graphic video lessons that students can view at their convenience and interaction through three live conference calls and online discussion forums. The Theological Principles of Stewardship course approaches stewardship as a practice of our discipleship. Reading through the biblical imagery about stewardship reveals that our task is much more than just creating a balanced budget. From beginning to end, the imagery of stewardship is cast within the relationship…
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Will Our Children Be Generous?

Will Our Children Be Generous?

General
Today, tomorrow, and every day, children will be exposed to over five thousand messages geared to get them to spend their money on themselves. These messages try to convince children they are worth what they possess. Who will send them the messages about the benefits of being generous people who share and save their money as well as spend it? Who will teach them that they are valued by God just the way they are, regardless of what they own or what they wear? There are no guarantees that generous parents will raise generous children. Even parents who intentionally practice and teach faithful stewardship habits cannot be assured that their children will be equally motivated to be good stewards in their adult years. However, there are things parents can do…
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Going Digital With Your Stewardship Campaign

Going Digital With Your Stewardship Campaign

General
Communicating electronically is crucial, even if your church doesn’t do so on a regular basis. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian and US congregations have websites. People of all ages have access to laptops, tablets, and smart phones to receive personalized information about the world. Whatever the purpose, “there’s an app for that.” Even the most print-oriented grandparents e-mail their grandchildren, and once-stodgy businesses now use e-mails as part of the backbone of their communications. 500 million people use Facebook, half of them logging in every day. Facebook and e-mails are most popular among Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) in the US and Canada, the same persons who dominate church leadership in North American congregations. Pinterest attracts more than four million unique daily visitors who are overwhelmingly between…
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Registration Opens for Relational Stewardship Online Course

Registration Opens for Relational Stewardship Online Course

General
Click here for complete information about this online distance learning course.   Registration is now open for the Relational Stewardship online course, jointly offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and transformingthechurch.org. Ms. Sandy Lindahl, commissioned minister for holistic stewardship in the United Church of Christ and Principal and Consultant at Lindahl Consultants, is the instructor. Relational Stewardship includes audio-graphic video lessons that students can view at their convenience and interaction through live conference calls. Because transformative stewardship includes caring for our personal relationships, the Relational Stewardship course will provide Christian models and practices for healthy relationships of various kinds and their positive outcomes for individuals, congregations and communities. Students will consider a broad range of personal relationships ranging from God and self, family and friends, workplace and worship-place connections, and…
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