First Sunday of Advent, Year C, November 29, 2015
This year enter Advent with prayer and thanksgiving. Focus on building relationships rather than credit card debt. Do random acts of kindness and generosity rather than stressing over the perfect Christmas. You’ll be glad you did! (Photo: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ, Creative Commons)
The gift planning strategy of a local congregation should be geared to encouraging people to give and to make it easier for them to do so. Honor gifts (donated in the name of living people) and memorial gifts (donated in the name of the deceased) are wonderful vehicles for giving, but many churches fail to make the most of them by having no set policies or sloppy policies on how to handle them. Here are some practical tips. (Photo: Bill McChesney, Creative Commons)
Planned Giving work is an essential component in the ministry of any parish and in the individual lives of disciples of Jesus Christ. Planned Giving programs mediate God’s love and have been proven over time to bear much fruit in the lives of potential prospects and donors. This handy document provides a solid theological foundation for this important work. (Photo © alswart – Fotolia.com)
Lectionary Reflection for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, November 15, 2015
This week’s lessons encourage us to remember that our great stone edifices and proud prairie worship houses—all lovingly constructed to the glory of God and for the sake of community—will not stand forever. Yet, our Lord tell us to not be alarmed. We are to hold fast and keep the faith. (Photo: Guillermo Viciano, Creative Commons)
Here’s a wonderful reflection by Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard employing the familiar “stone soup” story as an entrance into discussion about stewardship, sharing, and community building. It’s a perfect option for your Thanksgiving service, for a children’s time, or for a discussion-starter with your youth or adult study group. (Photo: shawndwturner, Creative Commons)
Recently a Senior Pastor friend of mine attempting to lead his church of 180 in growth asked if I had any thoughts I could share with his governing board about crafting an effective budget for their church. I have plenty. Many churches are stuck because they look at budgeting all the wrong way. Here are some ideas. (Photo: Taxcredits.net, Creative Commons)
Along with frank discussions of sex and politics, honest conversation about money is a huge taboo in many congregations. The taboo harms not only the financial life of the congregation, but also faith life of the congregation that is prevented from exploring a major element of discipleship: generous giving. As the spiritual leader of the congregation, the pastor must shatter the “conspiracy of silence” by talking about money. The pastor must do this for the spiritual health of the people in the congregation. (Photo © BortN66 – Fotolia.com)
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.
T.A. Kantonen’s classic book “A Theology for Christian Stewardship” is still considered one of the best explorations of the topic and a go-to resource. Download a free PDF copy, posted on LC-MS’ FaithAflame website.
Photo © Katerha, used by Creative Commons license
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.)