Congregations at the Crossroads: Remembering to Be Households of God

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By Ronald E. Vallet. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), ISBN: 0802813670, 256 pp. $29 US
Review by Herbert Mather, director of stewardship for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church

Here is a book that does not fit the mold. It is both faithful and practical. Most of us have read books on Christian stewardship, agreed with most of what the author thought, “So what?” Many writers develop a sound theology but provide no clues about relating it to real life in the church. Other books have an abundance of how-to recommendations based on the latest management or marketing techniques with a few Bible verses tossed in to furnish legitimacy.

Congregations at the Crossroads is different. Ron Vallet talks theology but doesn’t simply theorize. We don’t find a preface on theology followed by the practical stuff. The two dimensions are woven together throughout the book.

Stewardship is described as a partnership between laity and clergy. Finance is part of the whole life and mission of the church. That is why giving issues in the church cannot be left to a stewardship committee. Six instruments of Christian stewardship furnish the framework for the partnership:

  1. The Word
  2. Baptism
  3. Eucharist
  4. Service
  5. Community
  6. Mission

Ron Vallet invites us to biblically reflect on who we (stewards) are and what we (stewards) do in the church. Sacraments and community service are part of the wholeness of the faith. Church finances and personal finances are equally under the guidance and judgment of God.

The choice presented by Ron Vallet to the church is amnesia or remembering. Christian stewardship is based on remembering who we are and remembering the One who offers us life.

Congregations at the Crossroads is the most personal book Ron has written. He passionately advocates for biblically based and spiritually vibrant congregations. I have already started recommending it to pastors and congregations. I recommend it to you.

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