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,…
Read More
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,…
Read More
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…
Read More
Beyond Stewardship: A Church Guide to Generous Giving Campaigns

Beyond Stewardship: A Church Guide to Generous Giving Campaigns

Giving, Resource Review, Stewardship
John Zehring and Kate Jagger, Judson Press, 2016 Beyond Stewardship: A Church Guide to Generous Giving Campaigns is a hands-on text filled with practical advice for an extensive annual stewardship program, including financial commitments to God’s work through the church. The book gives a two-pronged approach. First, it stresses a theological emphasis on abundance instead of scarcity. Second, it uses the most fruitful practices from effective fund-raising. On the theological side, authors Zehring and Jagger prompt church leaders to shift from talking about a stewardship campaign to a “generous giving ministry” and switch from talking about the church’s needs to how the church meets people’s needs. They emphasize raising givers more than raising funds and involve a large number of people in the process. What makes this book distinctive is…
Read More
Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity

Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity

Giving, Money management, Resource Review, Simple Living
Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity is a great guide for making personal money decisions. It is also well suited for a group study exploring money dynamics or for creating personal financial plans and strategies. In a concise writing, Adam Hamilton explores how a life lived in concert with God’s good intentions is blessed through living simply with generosity toward God and neighbor. Drawing deeply from scripture to highlight themes and illustrate points, he puts forward an easily adopted outline for living an abundant life. In a concise writing, Adam Hamilton explores how a life lived in concert with God’s good intentions is blessed through living simply with generosity toward God and neighbor. Drawing deeply from scripture to highlight themes and illustrate points, he puts forward an easily adopted…
Read More
Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money

Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money

Giving, Resource Review
by Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson, and Patricia Snell, Oxford University Press, 2008 Passing the Plate is an important book that addresses the practical issue of being found faithful. As we explore the theme “Found Faithful,” we think theologically and biblically. To fulfill Paul’s mandate and truly be found faithful as stewards, however, we must also think practically. Some might claim success in this regard. We know many who tithe, even a few who “reverse tithe”— giving 90 percent and living on 10 percent. Congregations craft annual budgets to ensure that mission giving constitutes at least 10 to 20 percent of their expenditures. Christians as a whole, however, have been found wanting, rather than faithful. Nowhere is this truth so explicitly demonstrated than in Passing the Plate. In this book,…
Read More
Whose Offering Plate Is It? New Strategies for Financial Stewardship

Whose Offering Plate Is It? New Strategies for Financial Stewardship

Giving, Resource Review
by J. Clif Christopher, Abingdon Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-4267-1013-1 In this book J. Clif Christopher builds on an earlier one he wrote titled Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate. Christopher elaborates on many of the standard ways that the church raises money by exploring currently accepted stewardship practices. This part of the book is excellent, but the information presented isn’t all that new. The strength of this small book is its discussion of one of the most thorny issues that has been debated recently: Should the pastor know what the members of the congregation give? Christopher’s answer is yes, and he explores his answer and the debate from various points of view in several chapters. The challenge, as he sees it, is how the pastor and church go about making sharing…
Read More
“Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving” Planning Kit

“Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving” Planning Kit

Devotional, Giving, Resource Review
by Michael Reeves and Jennifer Tyler, Abingdon Press, 2011, UPC: 843504019143 This planning kit is a helpful, comprehensive, four-week program for an annual financial emphasis that is focused on our faithful response to God. The kit provides resources and guidance for all stages of a financial emphasis, from making the decision to hold one to implementing this four-week emphasis on generosity. It includes weekly worship themes and sermon outlines along with sample letters and a daily devotional. Also included are resources for adults, youth, and children that are adaptable depending on the technical capabilities of a congregation. The objective of the program is, over time, to change the culture in a church so that generosity becomes a core value of discipleship and individual spiritual experience. “Extravagant Generosity” is built on…
Read More
Let the Children Give: Time, Talents, Love, and Money

Let the Children Give: Time, Talents, Love, and Money

Children, Giving, Resource Review
by Delia Halverson, Discipleship Resources, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0881775013 With a special emphasis on very young children through children in grade six, this ten chapter book begins with a biblical and historical background of stewardship. Halverson states that “our task today is to bring back the understanding of stewardship that was prevalent in the early church, the understanding that all that we have belongs to God, and as stewards we must recognize the mission of God as dominant in our lives.” To help a congregation’s educators evaluate the approach this resource uses with stewardship, Halverson supplies practical ideas for weaving stewardship into the lesson plans and specific methods for practicing a lifestyle of stewardship. Recognizing that we all learn through varying experiences (i.e. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences), several chapters are devoted to…
Read More
Celebrating the Offering

Celebrating the Offering

Congregations, Giving, Resource Review
by Melvin Amerson and James Amerson Discipleship Resources, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-88177-526-6 I like to see how the offering is handled in different churches. In some churches, nothing is said. In others, the ushers are invited up. In many, the choir sings to fill the gap. In most, it is an uncomfortable gap in worship. We often don’t know where to put the offering time, or what to say or do. At times I have heard a worship leader say, “I know you don’t want to take an offering, but it wouldn’t be church if we didn’t.” In Celebrating the Offering, Melvin and James Amerson (brothers, both of whom are clergy) help clergy and lay worship teams understand the offering as an important time of worship. In chapter one, the Amersons…
Read More