StewardShift: An Economia for Congregational Change

StewardShift: An Economia for Congregational Change

Holistic, Resource Review, Stewardship
252 pages StewardShift: An Economia for Congregational Change by Bob Sitze is more than a breath of fresh air; it’s a much-needed alternate viewpoint on the practice of stewardship. Full of descriptive suggestions and reflective questions, it points to “stewardship wisdom” currently being explored and experienced outside the church. God’s revelation is open-ended, the book says, and is not limited to insights within religious institutions. Many stewardship experts teach about “holistic stewardship” employed in every dimension of life. But instead of the more common look at life through a stewardship lens, Sitze points out specific stewardship practices in different secular arenas: individual areas of human enterprise where we can find “stewardship wisdom.” He provides glimpses into seven aspects of secular discovery. These are invitations for the reader to reflect on them in light of our scriptural norm for living. Stewardship is richer and fuller than we ever thought it…
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55 and Counting: A Guide for Pre-Retirement

55 and Counting: A Guide for Pre-Retirement

Case Studies, Holistic, Resource Review
by Gerald W. and L. Marlene Kaufman 176 pages There is more to planning for retirement than your financial nest egg. When preparing for the transition to retirement many focus their attention on fund balances in individual retirement accounts and 401ks. With the question of “Will I have enough saved to retire?” looming large in the foreground, many forget to ask additional important questions about how they will navigate the transitions that are ahead of them. Authors Gerald and Marlene Kaufman are not financial advisors. The Kaufmans have each been family therapists in a joint family practice. With the specialty areas of family issues, aging, and end-of-life conversations this resource on preparing for retirement is decidedly different than other resources you may have encountered about the topic. 55 and Counting: A Guide…
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Reflections on Faith and Finances

Reflections on Faith and Finances

Biblical, Giving, Resource Review, Stewardship
by Charles Lane 40 pages In this brief and tangible guide, Lane shares practical and helpful tools on understanding our relationship between our faith and finances. He pulls from his book Ask, Thank, Tell and cuts to the chase in this small, yet poignant reflection. Beginning with a universal definition of “gift”, he explores how by its very definition, our ability to have feeling or judgment of how gifts are to be used is removed once we relinquish ownership. Quickly he moves to clarify that it’s not that way with God … at all. In fact, “God continues to own everything.” Lane goes on to biblically make the argument for the importance of Christian stewardship. He wastes no time drawing modern day parallels and raising questions on how we choose to use our resources. He closes with the Portrait of…
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Faithful Investing: The Power of Decisive Action and Incremental Change

Faithful Investing: The Power of Decisive Action and Incremental Change

Investing, Resource Review
People of faith and entire faith communities alike must consider how the dollars they have been tasked with managing are at work in this world. But the world of investment portfolios and asset management can be an intimidating one to enter. James W. Murphy has assembled a resource to help introduce and guide individuals and communities alike through the potentially complex language and considerations related to managing our money in a way that is aligned with our faith and values. Faithful Investing: The power of Decisive Action and Incremental Change is a collection of essays written by a number of financial professionals from faith-based organizations who work in the area of financial and investment services. This ecumenical collaboration walks the reader through the complexities of faith-rooted investing with approachable and…
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Six Weeks on Money

Congregations, Giving, Resource Review, Workbook
In the field of stewardship education, a growing number of resources are being written and disseminated. This is a good thing. Enter Six Weeks on Money, a resource for individual or group use developed by Tim Schuster, most recently a Strategic Development Consultant for Thrivent Financial. He describes his program as a financial education program. This online resource is perhaps better described as an experience designed to help folks dig deeper into their personal money stories: how they relate to their personal financial resources. The six topics—Values, Scarcity, Agility, Integrity, Options, and Giving—are organized a bit differently from other popular financial stewardship courses, but contain all the vital components of an effective financial stewardship plan. Biblical truths serve as a foundation for all content, but the principles included are spiritual,…
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The Shepherd’s Guide through the Valley of Debt and Financial Change

The Shepherd’s Guide through the Valley of Debt and Financial Change

Leadership, Resource Review
By Flora Williams This volume, which does seem as long and big as its title, is a reference book. It deals with almost any financial question that a pastor or other counselor might meet in dealing with a parishioner or client. The author—a retired Purdue University professor, counselor, and Church of the Brethren pastor—has observed that many—perhaps most—pastors are not equipped, and do not feel equipped, to deal with financial issues when counseling. (A recent Pew Research Center survey indicates many parishioners agree). Flora Williams wants to change that. I see two reasons why some pastors might raise questions about this book. First, Williams is theologically conservative, and some paragraphs are close to preaching. Some pastors prefer to keep their theology and their financial counseling separate. But this should not…
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A Theology for Christian Stewardship

A Theology for Christian Stewardship

Holistic, Resource Review
A. Kantonen, Muhlenberg Press, 1956 I took some time to revisit an old friend recently. A Theology for Christian Stewardship by T. A. Kantonen was part of the bibliography for my doctoral research in the late 1980s. Published in 1956, it is a classic. As I re-read the book, I was struck that all the stewardship principles I have learned over the course of more than 26 years of stewardship ministry are summarized here in a mid-twentieth century treatise. Those principles were all unpacked for me some thirty years ago in a concise but thorough exposition of biblical theology specific to the topic of stewardship. Kantonen (1900-1993) was a Harvard-educated theologian who, at age three emigrated with his family from Finland to the United States. In a succinct manner, he…
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Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church

Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church

Giving, Resource Review
Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard Zondervan, 2012 Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church is a treasure chest of congregational practices related to giving that really work. Written by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, it offers high-impact examples from top churches in The Leadership Network, arising out of their Generous Church Leadership Community. The authors begin by defining generosity as “a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are, and ever will become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace” (p. 18). Intentionally limiting their conversation to stewardship of money and finances, they explore learnings and practices at the intersection of church development— where the church’s culture provides the permission system for giving—and leadership development, including leveraging weekend worship experiences,…
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What Do I Own and What Owns Me? A Spirituality of Stewardship

What Do I Own and What Owns Me? A Spirituality of Stewardship

Resource Review, Stewardship
By Daniel Conway, Twenty-Third Publications, 2008, Third Printing Stewardship is a source of deepening spirituality and grace, says Daniel Conway, when it helps us develop a lifestyle of growth in gratitude, generosity, sharing, and responsibility. In What Do I Own and What Owns Me?, Conway sets stewardship within the context of discipleship. He prompts readers to ask themselves two fundamental questions: “What do I own?” – I can consider the three most significant spiritual gifts God has given me and also my most prized material possessions. “What owns me?” – Have I completely surrendered my life and will to God, or am I holding back? This down-to-earth book contains plenty of nuggets to ponder and apply to our way of living, including the following: The rich and the comfortable may…
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Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving

Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving

Giving, Resource Review
By Stephen Post, PhD, and Jill Neimark, Broadway Books, 2007 “Giving is good medicine,” say Stephen Post and Jill Neimark, authors of Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving. It is an exciting book that reveals research results of physical, mental and emotional links between doing good and living longer, healthier, and happier lives. This book is packed with surprising findings from serious scientific studies that “demonstrate the power of unselfish love to enhance health,” recording positive benefits of a generous way of life. Key studies give stunning results. For example, after sifting out other factors, one five-year study of almost 2,000 people over the age of fifty-five found that those who volunteered in two or…
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