Third Sunday of Advent, Year A, December 11, 2016
What sort of highway do you want to travel each and every day? Do you want to experience life or hurtle through it? Do you desire to chart your course on God’s hopeful highway, among God’s people? (Photo:
When it comes to giving to the poor, why are Christians so miserable at it? The short answer is human nature, but the long answer has to do with one’s experiences with money. Generally , the more money people have, the less generous they are. Those who have experienced poverty are more likely to help. Here is an exploration, as well as some tips for developing your own generosity. (Photo: Steven Depolo, Creative Commons)
Second Sunday of Advent, Year A, December 4, 2016
Life is too short and the gospel too important to let an annual season like Advent get the short shrift or be transformed into a mere prelude to presents. Fling wide the doors of your heart, home, and church to welcome the stranger–and Jesus. (Photo: Simran, Creative Commons)
Second Sunday of Advent, Narrative Lectionary, Year Three, December 4, 2016
Is this week’s lesson an “Advent Killjoy” or an alternative vision for this season? Give your whole self to God, acknowledge your sins, and as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “Change your life, not just your clothes.” Now watch God’s response! (Photo: David Goehring, Creative Commons)
Scientists and church folk alike know that living a life of gratitude reaps benefits spiritually, mentally and physically. “Thankfulness releases us from anger and from materialism,” says Doris Whitaker, University of Mississippi Medical Center chaplain. “It helps us acknowledge that there’s something greater than us.” Here, with links to lots of other resources, are some ways to cultivate generosity.
There’s a distinction between what pastors do on Sundays and what we do between Sundays. What we do on Sundays has not really changed through the centuries: proclaiming the gospel, teaching Scripture, celebrating the sacraments, offering prayers. But the work between Sundays has changed radically, and it has not been a development but a defection. (Photo by Grublee, via Bigstockphoto.com)
Author and stewardship coach Ben Stroup suggests 10 reasons people may not be giving to your church. A changing climate of church giving compels leaders to trade in the view from the pulpit for the one from the pew. He provides hopeful exercise for realigning your vision and communicating with congregants about giving and generosity. (Brayden McLean, Creative Commons)
Churches need money for ministry, but the needs of congregations today outpace the will of people to give, especially given the generational differences between “the great generation” and baby boomers, and then between baby boomers and millennials. As traditional funding sources are maxed out, There is one asset that nearly all churches possess—land. Why not look into a land-use policy that can help finance ministry? (Photo: Alejandro Rdguez, Creative Commons)
Today, church leaders must appeal to the congregation from a variety of vantage points. There are no magical programs, processes or words that fund a church budget automatically, but some broad understandings of what people are looking for can help. Here are three essential aspects of stewardship, all beginning with the letter ‘i’.
If generosity is how we honor and express human value, than any act of kindness counts in the bigger picture. We can all be kind. We can all be generous. This is one of the key teachings of all the world’s religions. So we decided to look into our databases of quotes collected from our reading and see what teachers of our times and earlier ones have said about the spiritual practice of generosity. Read this assortment of quotes and observations, share them, and make them a part of your own development. (Photo: Bert Haymans, Creative Commons)
Here is a real gem! This 50-page resource includes a leader guide and participant materials for use in a faith-based small group context: adult or older youth Sunday school, Christian Education classes, women’s circles, men’s groups, congregational “Green Team,” or in a retreat setting. (Also can be ordered for $5 from the ELCA Resource Catalog.)
A how-to booklet for congregations to develop a Planned Giving ministry. Includes sections devoted to establishing and promoting a Planned Giving program, congregational endowments, wills emphasis, how life-income gifts work, and more. Free download from the United Church of Christ! (Photo: Tracie7779, Creative Commons)
Here’s a free online course on biblical stewardship that you can really sink your teeth into. “Four Gospels” pays attention to the stewardship-of-life underpinnings of the four Gospels as it provides a scholarly overview. From Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.