First Sunday of Advent, Year B, November 30, 2014
It’s Advent again. What’s a Christian to do? We wait, we hope, we sin, we mess up: wash, rinse, repeat. According to Jesus in Mark’s gospel this week, we must remain awake and be fully present and attentive every day. (Photo: Alan Turkus, Creative Commons)
Narrative Lectionary Reflection (Year One, Week Ten), November 23, 2014
Jeremiah’s call to speak prophetically to God’s people is a tough one, but God puts the words in his mouth and goes with him. Yes, God equips ordinary people like you and like me to speak. When we do so, we can count on God to be sowing seeds of hope and abundance–even when the situation looks hopeless. (Photo: emdot, Creative Commons)
Thanksgiving comes every fourth Thursday in November, but thanking God for our blessings is a spiritual discipline that should not be limited to a single day. Giving thanks is as essential to our spiritual growth as prayer. Here are some creative ideas not only to develop an attitude of thankfulness but also to reach out to our neighbors.
This article, written by Pastor Todd Nelson, is one of many valuable weekly newsletter offerings from the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary. Be sure to visit their website for this and other resources, as well as recordings from past Renewing Stewardship events.
When I speak with mainline ministers, we wonder if our entire career has been spent in a time of institutional scarcity and decline. Clearly, leadership in a situation of abundance and growth is very different than leadership in a situation of scarcity and decrease. If there is “a time for every season under heaven,” then this is a time for “Leadership in Scarcity,” indeed. Let me try to describe some challenges and gifts and offer a few proposals. (Photo © James Steidl – Fotolia.com)
Check out this wonderful creation care curriculum from Mennonite Creation Care Network. It’s a complete program with 13 units entitled “Every Creature Singing: Embracing the Good News for Planet Earth.” Click the headline to be redirected to the MCCN website. (Photo: George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Creative Commons)
The term “missional” describes the activity of God’s people in the world for God’s mission. But now the word has taken on broad meanings by such diverse and often contradictory voices that, to some, “missional” has become virtually meaningless, argues ChristianityToday blogger Ed Stetzer. (Photo by Randy OHC, used by Creative Commons license)
Market speculation and pursuit of profits are hindering the global fight against hunger and poverty, Pope Francis told a U.N. conference in Rome on nutrition. He urged the world’s wealthiest nations to do more to help those in need, says this Religion News Service report. (Photo by Alan Light, used by Creative Commons license)
People are giving money to organizations and causes that they believe in and that know how to ask properly. Unfortunately, that is frequently not the Christian church. We have a lot to learn from fundraising-savvy organizations, such as National Public Radio, argues a writer for the Center for Faith and Giving.
Here are excerpts from the pastoral letter, “Who is the Good and Faithful Steward?” by Roman Catholic Bishop Paul A. Zipfel of Bismarck, ND. In it, he responds to three sets of questions frequently asked when the faithful hear the word “stewardship” and aren’t sure what it means or how it applies to them. Good reading posted by the Archdiocese of Dodge City, KS. (Photo © Alfredo Müller – Fotolia.com)
For veteran preacher Gary Langness, preaching stewardship happens year round, is a joy-filled process, and begins even before the pastor steps foot in the pulpit. In this article from Luther Seminary’s “Story Magazine” he shares some basic principles. (Photo by that.with.the.camera, used by Creative Commons license)
Churches have fallen on tough times. Giving is way down. From established churches to startup churches, it seems like everyone is reeling from the economy. With lost jobs or slashed incomes, churchgoers just aren’t giving. What can churches do to increase tithing? Here are tips from ShareFaith magazine.
Here are some go-to places for planning your congregation’s Thanksgiving Service. Not doing something during the week? Why not include a Thanksgiving component for the Sunday before or after? (Photo by Ed Schipul, used by Creative Commons license)
Getting parishioners to sign up for cottage meetings or home visits can be tough. Check out the clever way St. James Cathedral (ECUSA) successfully addressed this challenge. (Photo: ECF Vital Practices)
What are the key points to emphasize about congregational stewardship? This handy PowerPoint presentation covers the ground handily from a Lutheran perspective, but is easily adaptable for any context. Posted on the website of the Metropolitan D.C. Synod of the ELCA.
What’s the deal about tithing? Is it a biblical mandate, a generous response or an outdated measure for giving? This FAQ from the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis provides answers. (Photo by Raymond Bryson, used by Creative Commons license)
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This resource outlines the six most popular financial response models used by ELCA congregations. An easy-to-follow guide for new stewardship leaders. Available through the ELCA Resource Catalog or in PDF as a free download.
Some of the brightest minds of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have collaborated for this collection of essays exploring “How Much is Enough: A Deeper Look at Stewardship in an Age of Abundance.” Each author looks at one aspect of what it means to be a well-formed stewardship leader — the basic competencies needed.
Check out Faith Aflame from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a free comprehensive offering with a broad assortment of downloadable resources for congregational leaders. Click here or above to explore the Faith Aflame site.