STEWARDSHIP RESOURCES FOR YOU AND YOUR CONGREGATION by Pastor Jerry O’Neal, IK Synod Stewardship Director, Updated May 4, 2021
1.Resources Offered through the IK Synod: I highly recommend all of these! The first two are offered through our partners at Gronlund-Sayther-Brunkow (GSB).
a.Building a Culture of Generosity: A six-session program in which you learn the basics of running an outstanding annual stewardship campaign. You get access to GSB’s resources and their Graphic Design department to help build the materials for your appeal. Cost $450; $250 of this may come from a Thrivent Action Team Grant.
b.Stewardship for All Seasons: A two-year program designed to help change your congregation’s culture of stewardship and generosity. It offers all the resources above, plus deeper dives into topics like communication, sharing generosity stories and impact stories, planned giving, etc. Congregations who have gone through this program have seen significant growth in generosity and ministry. Cost: $4,000 per year. As a sign of our partnership with you, the IK Synod covers half the cost, so it costs you only $2,000 per year!
c.Stewardship Consultations: I am happy to meet with your pastor, council, stewardship team, etc. to have conversations about building a strong annual campaign and other stewardship topics. No cost: my time and mileage are paid through Mission Support! Contact Jerry O’Neal.
d.Stewardship Snippets: Each month, I offer a brief video reflection on a particular topic related to stewardship. You will find links to these videos in the weekly synod e-newsletter, and archived videos may be found on our synod’s Vimeo page. No cost.
2.Annual Campaigns: These tend to be much cheaper than the first two programs above, but they will probably not yield the same results.
a.“Walk with Jesus: An Annual Stewardship Response Program”: Developed by Pastor Chick Lane, former ELCA Stewardship Director, this is a simple program designed especially for smaller congregations. Cost: $10. You can download the program at https://resources.elca.org/Stewardship-A_Walk_with_Jesus_-_Digital_Download.html.
b.“Because of God’s Great Mercy”: Another program from Chick Lane, it gives people a simple way to increase their giving by ½-1% per year. Cost: $10. It is available at https://resources.elca.org/Stewardship-Because_of_God_s_Great_Mercy.html.
c.“Stewards of God’s Love”: This is a year-round program for stewardship which includes an annual appeal. The program focuses on stewardship in the broad sense. No Cost. You may download it at https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_Stewards_Of_Gods_Love_Resource_and_Inserts.pdf.
d. Other programs: In recent years I have developed my own campaigns. I would recommend two of them in particular: “Focus on Faith,” which focuses broadly on stewardship (time, talents, and treasure); and “Generosity Makes a Difference,” which focuses on how the congregation is making a difference in the lives of their members and the community around them. Please contact
me if you would like to learn more about them. No cost. I would also be happy to help you build your own campaign tailored to your situation.
e. Other campaigns are available at https://elca.org/resources/stewardship.
3. Resources for personal finance: I find that many individuals have little idea how to
manage their personal finances, and their lack of savings and level of debt make it
impossible to be the generous financial stewards God longs for them to be.
a. The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack. This book offers simple, practical advice on how to set up your personal finances. Basically, all their advice on personal finance can (and is) summarized on an index card. Cost $12.50 at Amazon.
b. Six Weeks on Money: Developed by Tim Schuster, this is a podcast series designed to be used in a small group setting in your congregation. The goal of the series is to help you make financial decisions based on your deepest values. Cost: $80. It is available at https://www.sixweeksonmoney.com.
c. I have also built a basic seven-week course on personal finance titled “Managing God’s Finances Faithfully.” No cost, but we would want to adapt it to your context.
d. Note: I do NOT recommend Dave Ramsey’s materials (The Total Money Makeover, Financial Peace University, etc.) for reasons both theological and financial. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this further.
4. Other books: There is a lot of good material out there on stewardship. Here are some books I highly recommend. (Note: all costs are approximate based on cost at Amazon in April of 2021.)
a. Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity by Michael R. Ward. Mike is an ELCA pastor and partner with GSB (see above). This book describes some of the fundamental concepts that are the basis of GSB’s programs. Cost: $15.78.
b. Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity by Adam Hamilton. Hamilton serves as the lead pastor of the Church of the Resurrection (Methodist) in Leawood, KS. This book provides good basic theology and straightforward practical advice. Cost: $8.72 for the revised edition.
c. Giving to God: The Bible’s Good News about Living a Generous Life by Mark Allan Powell. An enjoyable book on stewardship by one of the most prolific Lutheran writers today. Powell interjects humor, quality Bible study, and some challenging ideas into his work. Cost: $6.50.
d. Imagine a New Economy: Biblical Reflections on Money and Possessions by John D. Herman. This book is designed as a 13-week study for individual devotions or small group discussions. Each day includes Scripture reference(s), some commentary from leading theologians, and questions with space for you to write your responses. I found it engaging and valuable for my personal discipleship. Cost: $13.99.
e. Money and Possessions by Walter Brueggemann. The author is the preeminent scholar on the Hebrew Scriptures today. In this book, he takes a deep dive into the many Old and New Testament texts around stewardship and offers his usual thought-provoking insights. A challenging but excellent read! Cost: $28.21.
f. Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God’s Invitation to Grow by Craig Satterlee. Now the bishop of the ELCA Northwestern Lower Michigan Synod, Satterlee was a homiletics professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He provides numerous thoughts on preaching themes and Biblical texts. He also provides several excellent examples of sermons.
There is also a companion DVD series which explores related themes. Cost: $24.
g. Rich Church, Poor Church: Keys to Effective Financial Ministry. by J. Clif Christopher. The author provides some excellent, outside-the-box thinking for congregational stewardship leaders, making explicit connections between the congregation’s mission and its financial stewardship. I recommend all his books! Cost: $8.87.
5. Websites and E-Newsletters: There are several excellent websites and enewsletters out there today. Here are a few I highly recommend:
a. ELCA Stewardship Website: In addition to providing an abundance of resources for you and your congregation, they offer a quarterly “StewardNet” newsletter filled with excellent information and an annual “StewardCast” online workshop. https://elca.org/stewardship.
b. Stewardship Leaders Program: Based at Luther Seminary, the Stewardship Leaders Program offers an excellent weekly newsletter and a free e-book titled Stewardship 101: An Invitation to Financial Stewardship. https://faithlead.luthersem.edu/stewardship.
c. Stewardship of Life Institute: Based at United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, SOLI offers grants for stewardship programs, a website full of resources, and a weekly e-newsletter with both a reflection on the upcoming Sunday texts and a monthly “stewardship toolbox” for congregations. https://www.stewardshipoflife.org.
I hope this resource list is helpful for you! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to
email me at [email protected]. Shalom, Pastor Jerry