Thursday, September 17, 2015

Stewing about Stewardship? Here are some resources!

Stewardship sermons and stewardship season have one disturbing thing in common: preachers and lay leaders struggle with finding the right words and the right way to discuss the reality that the church needs to talk about money and generosity if ministry and mission are to carry on.

Hearing "a dry sermon on stewardship" is the last response a preacher wants her congregants to claim when reviewing worship (if they do such things) at lunch after worship.  Further, preachers also worry that they will be accused of always preaching "about money", even when they know for a fact that the only time one preached on stewardship was once per year!

Talking about money, stewardship and generosity are necessary conversations, yet we have to be attuned to ways and strategies that recognize that a good and ongoing conversation about the ministry and mission of the congregation begets many opportunities to create a culture of generosity, connecting the giver's sense of affinity with the mission of the congregation and ensuring that good stewardship is accompanied with prudent accounting practices, careful endowment management and intentional conversations with church leaders about living within their means while also tamping down any institutionalism that leads to circling the wagons more than setting out on new adventures for Christ and the Reign of God.

I suggest the times for stewardship and budgets and other conversation about "money and ministry" happen on an ongoing basis, rather than relegated to the brief (and not so strategic) time between September and November.  Churches miss the opportunity to "tell the story" year-round, and nobody really should put a budget together when the pledges are yet to come in, yet I know many churches who plan budgets without tying anticipated income to temper the expense planning.  I'd much rather see a congregation work through budgets without anxiety or apathy, as it is not a pretty sight or memorable experience otherwise!

Some resources to suggest for stewardship and rethinking your congregation's ways of discussing money faithfully, frankly, and forward-thinking:

This Fall, Dr. Jim Kelsey offers an online/onsite opportunity for the ABCNYS Lay Study program.  Dr. Kelsey will be teaching a church administration course, covering key issues that all pastors and lay leaders should know to help their church carry out routine church business as well as staying up with the ever changing challenges of resources, volunteers and "best practices".   To learn more abou this affordable course which can be taken on site (in the Syracuse area) or simultaneously ONLINE!!!, visit our Region page. LINK:

A recent blog post on "Seven Books about Church and Money that Every Clergy-person Should Read" is quite helpful.  I own a number of these books already and resonate with the good reviews.  Take and read!   LINK:

A webinar for American Baptists is coming up soon!  This free resource connects you with the Ecumenical Stewardship Center offering opportunities to think about new trends in stewardship.  Sign-up is free yet required!   LINK:

A report about charitable giving overall can be helpful to understand the "climate" shared by churches/faith communities with other 501c3 charitable organizations.  LINK:

Stewardship Resources

Christopher, J. Clif. Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship.  Abingdon, 2008.

Durall, Michael. Beyond the Collection Plate: Overcoming Obstacles to Faithful Giving. Abingdon, 2003.

Durall, Michael. Creating Congregations of Generous People. Alban/Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Hall, Douglas John. The Steward: Biblical Symbol Come of Age. Wipf & Stock, 2004.

Hamilton, Adam. Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity. Abingdon, 2009.

Hicks, Douglas A. Money Enough: Everyday Practices for Living Faithfully in the Global Economy.  Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Jones, Clifford A., Sr., The Star Book for Stewardship. Judson Press, 2012.

Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. “2013 Congregational Economic Impact Study”. PDF report
available via:

Marcuson, Margaret.  Money and Your Ministry: Balance The Books While Keeping Your Balance.  Marcuson Leadership Circle, 2014.

Mosser, David N. The Stewardship Companion: Lectionary Resources for Preaching. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2007.

Robinson, Anthony B. Stewardship for Vital Congregations. Pilgrim Press, 2011.

Satterlee, Craig A. Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God’s Invitation to Grow. Alban/Rowman &Littlefield, 2011.

Tennant, Matthew. Preaching in Plenty and in Want. Judson Press, 2011.

Watley, William D. Bring the Full Tithe: Sermons on the Grace of Giving. Judson Press, 1995.

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