Helping people live, love, and lead like Jesus




                               
                                      Grow  Generous Givers       

A Siebert-Funded  Coaching Project to Build Leadership Capacities

Goals for Short-Term Cohort Groups

1 | Relate around a Shared Theme
Leadership is a team sport.
Connect to inspire and encourage.
2 | Review Your Results
Notice what is present. Define reality.
List what's working and not working.
3 | Rethink What's Possible
Create a picture of a preferred future.
Question your assumptions and norms.
4 | Reinvent  Your Future
Build a better plans to get better results.
Increase your impact and reach.

       The COHORT GROUP Covenant  |  Our Commitment to One Another

  • Attitude: We invite you to be positive, present, playful, open-minded, and Spirit-driven.
  • Actions: We invite you to be on time, ready to contribute, speak your truth, and share what you need from others.  
  • Assumptions: We invite you to question your assumptions, rethink  your norms, stretch your imaginations,  and reinvent your futures. 
Confidentiality is key to creating a safe, sacred environment.
Everything that's shared in the group, remains within the group.

FYI  |  Information cohort participants should be aware of

  • Each cohort session lasts approximately 55 minutes.
  • Sessions are led by VFM coaches who abide by ICF's Code of Ethics.
  • Cohort conversations are held using the  Zoom platform.
  • Participants will be asked to work on short "sprinter tasks" between sessions.
  • If you are unable to attend a session, please notify your coach ahead of time.
  • Participants are encouraged take notes during the session.
  • You are welcome to ask your coach for input on your plan.
  • Resources and tools related to session themes will be added after every session.

An overview of the 5 cohort sessions

What changes do you wish to navigate? What do you want to be different?
1 | Describe Spiritual Vitality

What ore some key indicators of a maturing Christian faith?

  • How often does your church talk about money?
  • How comfortable are you about raising the issue?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10-very generous), how generous would you say your congregation is?
  • From your perspective, what do you feel hinders people’s capacity to be more generous?
  • Who taught you about managing money?  Being generous with money?
  • In what ways do you thank people for their generosity?
  • In what ways do you share how their generosity transforms people’s lives?

SPRINTER TASK:  List your 2 next steps for growing as a follower of Christ.

How are you helping parents and grandparents pass on faith?

  • How do you describe what stewardship is and looks like to your members?
  • What happens if we emphasize financial giving over other ways to give?
  • What happens when we de-emphasize it?
  • What do you celebrate about your church’s understanding of stewardship?
  • What facets of stewardship does your church tend to neglect?
  • Is there ONE stewardship concept or action you wish your members would pay closer attention to?
  • How has your understanding of stewardship changed over the years?
  • What or who has shaped your understanding of stewardship?

SPRINTER TASK: List ways to help grandparents form faith in their grandchildren.
2 | Create a Web of Support
3 | Form faith in daily life

How will you help people form faith at church? Home? Online? On the go?

  • Share with others how year-round stewardship unfolds in your church?
  • If you could wave a magic wand, how do you wish your church addressed stewardship year-round?
  • What is one new idea you’d like to try to enhance the idea of year-round stewardship?
  • What role does pledging and giving online have on people’s willingness and ability to be consistently generous?
  •  When someone says,“ Our church is always talking about money,” how do you respond?

SPRINTER TASK: List ways to use your website/Facebook page to form faith.

How is your church helping people form faith in their daily lives?


  • What were some turning points in your journey of generosity?
  • When have others invited you to be more generous? How did you respond?
  • What have you learned about helping others become more generous?
  • When have you been turned off by a person’s invitation to be generous?
  • What’s one thing your church could do to help others start giving financially?
  • To give more financially?

SPRINTER TASK:  List ways you will help people form faith during meals; in the car.
4 | Develop spiritual practices
5 | Reinforce key messages

What are your church’s norms for talking about and modeling faith?

  • Do you send different letters to people based on their past or present giving?
  • What types of metrics do you use to assess the financial generosity of your congregation?
  • What metrics do you track? Who are they shared with?
  • What metrics might you track in the future?

Participants will be asked to share their learnings and plans with each other for the rest of this session.




Participants will be invited to share their next steps for "growing vibrant faith." 

     Sample PLANS and NEXT STEPS  taken by other church leaders

                                                      A sample plan will be added before each cohort session


PLAN  1 |  Define what a vibrant faith and vital congregation looks like

  • Review the Exemplary Youth Ministry Study information on indicators of a maturing Christian faith.
  • Summarize on vibrant faith is describe in the book, Faith Formation With a New Generation.
  • Review sample Faith Formation Blueprint documents.
  • Interview pastors and faith formation leaders about how they describe spiritual vitality and what it means to live, love, and lead like Jesus.
  • Create a first draft of a vision for lifelong faith; share with leaders and gather their feedback. Continue to refine periodically.

Website links to support your planning

Tools (PDFs) to support your planning

Videos worth watching

DEVELOP  A  VISION  FOR  LIFELONG  STEWARDSHIP 

What is Christian stewardship?
Christian stewardship has also been defined as “what we do, with all that we have, after we say, we believe."  It involves using the gifts God has given us, to do the work God is calling us to do. Christian stewardship is the grateful and responsible use of God's gifts in the light of God's purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ.  Christian stewards, empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves to conscious, purposeful decisions. Stewardship teaches that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. We are, therefore, stewards of God's gifts during our lifetime. Discerning and carrying out God's purpose is the primary purpose of our lives.  The gifts we have been given, time, talent, and money, are to be used for that purpose. The primary role of the church is to guide individuals in discernment of the mission for their lives and use of their resources in accomplishing it.

The role of stewardship in a congregation
The primary objective of the organization (church) is to bring people into a closer relationship with God. Strengthening relationships with individuals is an important part of this but the goal is always to create an environment in which the relationship with God is strengthened. Congregations are charged with encouraging individuals to discern the gifts God has given them and the work God is calling them to do. God is the source of the mission and the money. Both are gifts over which the giver exercises faithful stewardship.
  • Understanding giving as a significant spiritual practice, the congregation encourages giving by providing or identifying a variety of opportunities to give of one’s time, talents and treasures. 
  • Understanding giving as a joyful response to God's generosity to us, the congregation provides people with opportunities to express their faith and encourage others.

Philosophical Assumptions
  • We are empowered to give. Stewards are freed from an attitude of scarcity to live in the abundance of God. Individuals experience the joy of giving as they respond to God's call to live as faithful stewards. 
  • Stewardship is a ongoing function of congregational life and includeS stewardship education, planned giving and storytelling.  It is connected to our congregational identity of generosity and abundance. 
  • We are at ease with discussing money.
  • Expectations for support of the congregation, with time, talents and money, are clear and accepted for all ages from day one.
  • The congregation “thinks big” and beyond ourselves with a feeling of joyful abundance.
  • Giving increases as the congregation matures spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.

The Three Faces Of Financial Stewardship
In gathering money for ministry there are several pathways used to gather the gifts of members.  They include:
  • Ordinary stewardship is the regular practice of returning to God a portion of all that God has given us. It involves teaching ourselves how to create a life built upon the notion that all that we have is a gift from God. This includes teaching the holy habits of keeping the Sabbath and tithing, and the concept that giving regularly of our time, talent, and money to God’s work on this earth is as much a spiritual practice as prayer and worship.
  • Extraordinary stewardship involves the special occasions that arise in the life of Christian communities that call us to give beyond our ordinary habit. They involve increased risk and encourage us to experiment with sacrificial giving in order to help the community realize an especially important goal. The best example of extraordinary stewardship is the capital campaign.
  • Legacy stewardship is the way in which we address the matter of disposing of the accumulations of our lifetime. Who will use your “stuff¨ when you no longer need it? It is the opportunity to leave a planned gift that constitutes both a legacy to generations yet unborn and a final witness to those whom we hold most dear.

FOUNDATIONS  FOR   EFFECTIVE  STEWARDSHIP

Essential Elements and Practices for Congregational Stewardship
Congregations that have a vital role in the community, that have a focus beyond themselves, that foster authentic community, and are equipping people with a faith that works in real life are typically poised for healthy stewardship. Leadership is also key for healthy stewardship ministry. Recurring themes regarding leadership best practices include:
  • Pastors are the key stewardship models and leaders.
  • Pastors and lay leaders are passionate about and committed to growing in giving, talking openly about their personal giving.
  • An active stewardship team is in place that works closely with the governing board.
  • Leaders are trained and educated in stewardship.
  • There are high expectations among the leadership and within the congregation.

Education is fundamental for growing stewards. These elements were recurring:
  • Teach and preach stewardship with strong biblical principles.
  • Teach the role of money in one's life.
  • Teach personal money management.
  • Preach and converse regularly about money as an expression of faith.
  • Teach proportionate, regular, first fruits, and growth giving.
  • Children and youth education curriculum include stewardship themes.
  • Teach all-of-life stewardship.
  • Interpretation and communication of congregational, synod, and church-wide ministries are extremely important to increase accountability and build trust within the congregation.
  • Conduct a year round monthly emphasis on various ministries supported by member giving.
  • Celebrate what offerings are doing by using personal stories.
  • Communicate connections, relationships, and partnerships of the whole ELCA.
  • Tell the story of who we are as the ELCA, what we do in ministry together, and how we fund those ministries in a clear, compelling way.
  • Share personal stories of joy of giving.

Effective practices used by congregations known for strong stewardship programs:
  • They hold a commitment that stewardship is important. Their vision planning includes stewardship. They are clear about their purpose and mission.
  • They give away a growing percentage of congregational income for ministries of the whole church.
  • They practice first fruits and proportionate giving for mission support (benevolence) for the whole church.
  • They build relationships with their members through personal contacts.
  • They provide multiple opportunities for giving and serving.
  • They foster spirit-filled giving and prayer development, emphasizing the connection between faith and money.
  • They identify, explore, and nurture spiritual gifts of members, helping them to fulfill their passions.
  • They develop an "asset-based" climate, using members' assets rather than meeting needs.
  • They develop year-round stewardship programs.
  • They ask boldly.
  • They thank profusely and often.
  • They engage in annual every member response programs for financial commitments, estimates of giving or pledges.
  • They provide programs for regular (undesignated) and over-and-above (designated) giving.
  • They use a program budget in addition to a line item budget.
  • They separate stewardship programs from budget preparation.
  • They provide quarterly reports on member giving to the membership.
  • They establish mission endowment policies.
  • They model first-fruits giving by sharing a percentage of their corporate income for ministry beyond the congregation.

STEWARDSHIP  PRINCIPLES &  ASSUMPTIONS

Understanding that God created and loves the world and invites us to participate in God’s vision for the world, we view giving as a means of:
  • expressing generosity in gratitude for all of God’s gifts.
  • fulfilling the great commandment of loving God and neighbor.
  • living out our call to be the church, celebrating God’s presence, living with respect in Creation, loving and serving others, seeking justice and resisting evil, proclaiming Jesus, crucified and risen.

Understanding generosity as a demonstrable dimension of faith formation that is reflected in every life decision, we believe that:
  • Giving increases correlate with spiritual growth.
  • Stewardship involves getting values and money going in the same direction.

Given current research on stewardship patterns and practices, we understand that: 
  • Giving increases in congregations committed to building friendship with poor people and advocating for justice.
  • People who learned to give as children continue to give as adults.
  • Effective pastoral care ministries are sensitive to spiritual, vocational, and financial concerns of all economic strata, including upper and middle class.
  • People with higher family incomes give higher dollar amounts.
  • Givers with lower incomes are higher percentage givers.
  • Members of the middle class give the least as a proportion of income. 
  • It is important to encourage people to live their way into a new way of being, to take the next step.
  • Effective stewardship education ministries address personal financial concerns. 
  • Giving correlates to church vitality as indicated by membership, attendance, and numbers of programs and groups sponsored by the congregation. 
  • People involved in church communities are higher givers, at the level of their involvement.
  • Congregational financial crises are directly related to involvement crises.
  • In general, people do not trade-off donating time for money.

Knowing that people give based on a mixture of motives, common motivations include:
  • Compassion and care: People give to causes that touch their emotions.
  • Commitment: Some give out of institutional loyalty or commitment to a mission.
  • Responsibility and obligation: Some want to pay their “fair share” or for “services rendered.”
  • Relationships and recipient credibility: People give to people, especially people they trust.
  • Values: “Money follows mission” where the purpose is clear. People give to what they are passionate about.
  • Desire to make a difference: People find meaning in giving to do something significant.
  • Sense of community: People give to causes that relate to their lives, to their sense of heritage, or that will benefit people they know.
  • Spiritual reasons: Generosity arises from gratitude and discipleship decisions in transformed lives.

Given people’s varied motivations and different understanding of stewardship, we believe that:
  • People are more likely to give when asked. If you want money, you must ask.
  • People are more likely to continue giving once they begin.
  • Giving also increases when people are asked to increase their giving.
  • Most money raised will come from larger gifts. Ask for leadership gifts first.
  • The most important determinant of how much you can raise next year is what you have raised this year.
  • Most giving next year, including increases, will come from those already giving.
  • Focus on those most likely to give, those currently giving.
  • Offer multiple opportunities for people to have an initial experience of being generous.
  • Churches that ask for annual estimates of giving, dedicated as an act of worship, have a higher level of giving.
  • Acts of thanksgiving to people for their gifts, including time, are significant rituals.
  • People who pledge and plan their giving annually give more.

INSIGHTS  FROM THE BOOK,   ASK,  THANK,  TELL

ASK, THANK, TELL: IMPROVING STEWARDSHIP MINISTRY IN YOUR CONGREGATION
 
Ask, Thank, Tell by Pastor Charles Lane, emphasizes is on mission, not maintenance; discipleship not membership; the giver's need to give, not the church's need to receive. The author challenges the unbiblical taboos that produce a "conspiracy of silence about money ... money as a private topic" and the separation of the "financial life from the spiritual life" of the congregation. He calls upon pastors to be stewardship leaders. Lane insists that this must occur for the spiritual health of people. "Each worshipper needs help in considering his/her finances in the light of his/her relationship with Jesus. Each worshipper needs to give generously of that which God has entrusted to them."  The last chapters of the book suggest practical and helpful ways to structure a congregation's ministry focusing on the words, "ask, thank, tell." The first four chapters are Biblical teaching prescriptions that undergird congregational practices.

Chapter 1 - Discipleship, Not Membership
The author claims that stewardship ministry is first and foremost about making and growing disciples. He states, "The goal of stewardship ministry is to help God's people grow in their relationship with Jesus through the use of the time, talents and finances God has entrusted to them." The biblically-grounded goal is not to "raise money to pay the bills next year." The entire focus is on "the giver's need to give," which grows out of a relationship with Jesus.

Chapter 2 - It All Belongs to God
A study of Scripture reveals truths that are cornerstones of everything we have to say about stewardship. We are stewards not owners. God does not transfer anything to us. God continues to own it all. We have the privilege and responsibility to care for that which belongs to God, By global standards, most of us are wealthy. We, however, are not the source of our wealth. The proper response is not to congratulate ourselves but to "give God the glory and the thanks, and to ask serious questions about how I am called to use what God has entrusted to me." The fact that we are stewards is a reason to celebrate. God honors us by giving us that identity. God provides "all the resources we need to accomplish the mission to which God has called us." We serve a God of abundance, not of scarcity. Stewardship leaders are called to help God's people know these truths and to invite them to live into them.

Chapter 3 - Money and Possession in the New Testament
The challenge is not money or possessions in themselves. The issue is that money and possessions pose a threat to a person's relationship with Jesus. This is why the New Testament is so concerned about money and possessions. Jesus wants nothing more than your heart. The biblical call is to live the life of a steward, to recognize the duty of wealth and to give generously of that which God has entrusted to us.

Chapter 4 - Portrait of a Biblical Giver (6 stewardship habits)
  1. Intentional – They intentionally plan to give.
  2. Regular – They follow a regular pattern of giving. 
  3. Generous – They are generous.
  4. First – They give first of all they receive. 
  5. Proportional – They give in proportion to what they receive.
  6. Cheerful – Those who practice the other values will become cheerful in their giving.

Chapter 5 - Practicing Biblical Stewardship
 To help people to grow in their relationship with Jesus we need to talk plainly about money. Jesus talked a lot about money. Jesus and the authors of the New Testament understood that money is a huge issue in people's relationship with God. Reluctance to talk about money is a huge roadblock in the stewardship ministry in many congregations. Lane challenges two taboos. First, "money is a private topic and no one else's business." The second is, "the financial life of the congregation is separate from the spiritual life of the congregation."  What people do with their money has a profound impact on their relationship with their Lord. Lane asserts, "If you grow in your giving, you will grow in your relationship with Jesus.
 One of the consequences of these taboos is that many congregations "don't want their pastor to be involved in either stewardship ministry or the financial life of the congregation."
 Lane insists that because the financial part of our lives has a direct impact on our relationship with Jesus, the pastor needs, for the well-being of the people served, to be a stewardship leader. "Money is not only an appropriate but a necessary topic of conversation." Stewardship leaders need to lead in this regard.

Chapters 6 to 10 focus on the stewardship practices in congregations that encourage congregants to follow biblical teaching. They are practical, hands-on advice from a pastor who has gained wisdom from years of experience in congregations.  Three key verbs suggest the way to structure a congregation's ministry:
  • Ask: Describe ways to ask people to consider blessings God has entrusted to them and how they feel called to respond through generous giving.
  • Thank: Describe the importance of and how to encourage and show appreciation. 
  • Tell: Suggest ways to make the congregation aware of the results of the work they do together.

Chapter 6 - Ask: The Annual Response Program
    Lane considers this the cornerstone work of a congregation's stewardship ministry. There are many practical and helpful suggestions. The author cautions that while this is the greatest opportunity to focus on the biblical teachings discussed earlier, it is here where the greatest threat to abandoning those teachings occurs.

Chapter 7 - Ask: Making the Pie Larger
    Helpful and thoughtful advice is offered regarding when, how often and how to ask for special offerings and conduct capital funds appeals.

Chapter 8 - Improving How We Ask
    The author proposes alternatives on how to ask and who does the asking. The author encourages the asking of a basic stewardship leadership question: "What can we do to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through their stewardship?" We need to focus on what will be best for the givers.

Chapter 9 -Thank
    This is basic. We cannot "over-thank." We need to create a culture of thanksgiving. This chapter provides a list of steps that can be taken to accomplish this.

Chapter 10 - Tell
    People want to know their giving makes a difference. The story needs to be told. Testimony of how God's spirit is present must be shared. This chapter gives suggestions on how to tell the mission story.

Chapter 11 - Organizing for your Stewardship Ministry
    Pastor Lane encourages stewardship ministry teams to form into three work groups around the three stewardship ministry tasks, "ask, thank, tell."Lane concludes by reflecting on one of his favorite stewardship stories, Charles Dickens's, A Christmas Carol. The central drama is the change that occurs in Ebenezer Scrooge. He envisions similar changes in a church among people who, like Scrooge, have discovered the radical truth of Jesus' words, "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also." Lane writes, "I do have a vision of people in your congregation whose generosity grows by leaps and bounds, and who discover that this generosity has indeed led their heart to Jesus. I do have a vision of people chuckling, or at least smiling, as they drop their offering into the plate on Sunday morning."

SAMPLE  STEWARDSHIP  SERIES

1 Corinthians 16:1-4
     Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as you may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.

Consider developing a four-week sermon series designed to help members discover the joys of giving through growth in giving. Congregations conduct stewardship programs for a variety of reasons. For many, the bottom line in a stewardship program is more money. For others, the primary reason is to share the vision for mission of the congregational leadership.  While these are usually out- comes of conducting a program, they are secondary.  The best reason for a financial stewardship program is spiritual growth.  People find that as they discover the joy of giving, they also grow spiritually.

Sermon Series Goals (designed to help people grow spiritually through)
  • Growth in giving, including the prayerful deliberate growth toward or beyond a tithe. 
  • Growth in their understanding of stewardship.
  • Growth in joyful celebration of the mission and ministry of their congregation.
  • Discovery of a simple yet deliberate way to grow that nearly everyone can adopt.
  • Measuring the increase accurately.

POSSIBLE WEEKLY THEMES

WEEK 1 | Our God is a God of abundance.
     There are sufficient resources to accomplish all the mission and ministry our Lord calls us to do. Recall the words of St. Paul, “... God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

WEEK 2 |  Christian stewardship involves vision.
     Members find greater joy in giving through a church when they know where it’s going and how it serves others. Congregational prosperity is the manifestation of big, exciting, service-oriented goals. While it is not possible to share your entire vision in a short financial response program (full disclosure of mission and ministry belongs in your year-round stewardship education and mission interpretation) you can provide snippets about your vision. These can be addressed by the pastor in sermons or by those sharing stewardship talks.

Week 3  |  Christian discipleship involves growth—and discipleship includes stewardship.
     We encourage our members to grow in every area of their lives. We ask people to pray more, read scripture more, and grow in grace and knowledge of the truth. Growth in giving by celebrating and practicing generosity is one way this is enabled.

Week 4 |  Christian discipleship involves making different choices.
     Focus on how small steps, taken consistently over a period of time, can have profound impact. Highlight how this concept impacts one’s prayer life, Bible reading, as well as giving.  Consider having your congregation take the “Grow a Buck” challenge. Most of us don’t miss a buck! A buck is a Diet Coke, a small bottle of water, or a cup of coffee, We drop a buck with little consideration almost every day...and never miss it. The “Grow a Buck” Challenge is a challenge to celebrate generosity by making small changes in our daily and weekly routines Growing a buck not only allows most members to reach a tithe much more quickly than by using the one percent of income per year.

Note to congregational leaders
Please remember as your congregational members celebrate God’s abundance through their giving, it is crucial that leaders set an example. Leaders lead!  Therefore, think about what this sermon series means for you and your household before inviting others to be part of the process.

SAMPLE  STEWARDSHIP  SERIES

First Read Overall
  • Wesley K. Willmer, A Revolution in Generosity: Transforming Stewards to be Rich Toward God - Offers over 400 pages of the best wisdom on most conceivable areas of financial stewardship development, distilled from over twenty leading scholars and practitioners. Excellent blend of theology and practice.

Theological and Spiritual Foundations
  • Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions - A well researched, balanced, and thorough development of biblical teaching on the subject of wealth and poverty. This is the foundational reading on the subject.
  • Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Revised and Updated Edition – Reflects Alcorn’s most thorough and passionate teaching on the subject. Reads like a very engaging and substantive sermon on all things money. More popular-level than Blomberg.
  • David Croteau, Editor, Perspectives on Tithing: Four Views - offers a point-counterpoint on four views of tithing.
  • Strong Supplements:
  • David L. Baker, Tight Fists or Open Hands: Wealth and Poverty in the Old Testament - A substantive, detailed (440 pages) development of the Old Testament teaching on the subject of poverty and wealth. Good Old Testament supplement to Blomberg.
  • Justo Gonzalez, Faith and Wealth: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the Origin, Significance, and Use of Money - For evangelical Christians whose faith has been shaped in economically advantaged social-majority environments, Gonzalez, as a liberation theologian, may provide a good balance to their grasp of the biblical teaching on money and possessions.
  • James Hudnut-Beumler, Generous Saints: Congregations Rethinking Ethics and Money (Money, Faith, and Lifestyle Series) - An excellent series of reflections on moving congregations beyond simply meeting budgets to being good stewards of what God and others have entrusted to them.
  • Sondra Ely Wheeler, Wealth as Peril and Obligation: The New Testament on Possessions – Excellent exposition on the New Testament teaching on possessions, focusing on five texts: Mark 10:17-31; Luke 12:22-34; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; and James 5:1-6. Good supplement to Blomberg on the New Testament.
  • Ben Witherington, Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis – A thorough challenge toward the excesses of “health-and-wealth” preachers who cherry-pick scriptures and misuse texts such as the Jabez prayer. Also includes helpful guides for Christians to move beyond materialism into lives of stewardship and generosity. Good supplement to Blomberg on the Gospels.

Spirituality of Giving
  • Mark Allan Powell, Giving to God: The Bible’s Good News About Living a Generous Life - Approaches giving and stewardship from the angle of spiritual formation. The essential core is that stewardship is an act of worship, an expression of faith, and a discipline for spiritual growth.
  • Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Revised and Updated Edition – See above for description under “First Reads - Theological and Spiritual Foundations.”
  • Gordon MacDonald, Secrets of the Generous Life - A series of devotional reflections written for those who want to know how to use what they have been given for the purpose of building God’s kingdom. This book is intended to encourage and motivate people to live generously.
  • Wesley K. Willmer and Martyn Smith, God and Your Stuff: The Vital Link Between Your Possessions and Your Soul – An excellent treatment on the spirituality of possessions, aimed at showing the relationship between generosity and spiritual maturity.

Sociological Trends
  • Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson, and Patricia Snell, Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money - The best on the subject. A probing and incredibly well-researched text on the subject of giving patterns among American Christians.
  • Dean R. Hoge, Patrick H. McNamara, Charles Zech. Plain Talk About Churches and Money (Money, Faith, and Lifestyle Series) – Builds on research about what motivates people to give, and helps church leaders understand the causes of resistance and how to unlock the most generous inclinations of their members.
  • Loren Mead, Financial Meltdown in the Mainline? (Money, Faith and Lifestyle Series) – A hard-hitting, no holds barred look at the financial crisis in churches and related institutions.
  • Lyle Schaller, The New Context for Ministry: Competing for the Charitable Dollar - The long recognized guru of congregational life looks carefully at the effect of consumerism on churches. Makes several creative suggestions.
  • Robert Wuthnow, God and Mammon in America – Although older, a still interesting, well-researched look at to what degree religious convictions influence economic behavior, including material acquisition, consumption, career choices, social justice, etc.
  • Robert Wuthnow, The Crisis in the Churches: Spiritual Malaise, Fiscal Woe – Discusses research revealing that churches do very little to equip their people spiritually, educationally, or administratively to provide financial support for mission.

Development Guides
  • Wesley K. Willmer, A Revolution in Generosity: Transforming Stewards to be Rich Toward God – The most comprehensive manual on the subject. Excellent blend of theology and practice.
  • Charles R. Lane, Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregation - Focuses on stewardship as the growth of each giver in their primary relationship with Jesus Christ rather than on the good of the congregation. Less daring than Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate.
  • J. Clif Christopher, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship – Helps congregations increase their giving in the 21st century context with its proliferation of other worthy non-profit enterprises. Bold and highly pragmatic.
  • Janice Johnson and Ruben Swint, Weaving Our Lives Together: A Stewardship Program for Your Congregation – Emphasizes building a strong sense of congregational unity, functioning as community of faith sharing in God’s work.
  • Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson, Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church. Also, Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson, The Generosity Ladder: Your Next Step to Financial Peace. – Maximize describes the essential philosophy of a program whereby Searcy’s church increased giving over 60% during a six-month period. Generosity Ladder is a companion volume for church leaders.
  • Randy Alcorn, Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide - Good for personal financial development, but for church leaders, it is a helpful tool for stewardship education.
  • Kennon L. Callahan, Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church: A Guide for Every Member – Part of Callahan’s Twelve Keys library. Works the philosophy that “As you grow the mission, you will grow the giving. And as you grow the giving, you be in a stronger position to focus your best energies on the mission.” Companion to Effective Church Finances. 
  • George Barna, How to Increase Giving in Your Church: A Practical Guide to the Sensitive Task of Raising Money For Your Church or Ministry – Helps church leaders understand their donor-base demographics (personal background), psychographics (attitudes and values), and theolographics (spiritual perspectives and practices). Describes five categories of donors, and suggests how to move people from one category to the next to raise the level of commitment.
  • Michael Durall, Creating Congregations of Generous People – Good on strategies for pledge drives, approached from the angle of spiritual development.
  • Kim Klein, Ask and You Shall Receive: A Fundraising Training Program for Religious Organizations and Projects. Includes Leader and Participant Manual – A complete training on congregational fund-raising. A good supplement to volumes listed above. 
  • Patrick H. McNamara, More Than Money: Portraits of Transformative Stewardship (Money, Faith, and Lifestyle Series) - The story of 11 churches of several different Protestant “stripes” that have successfully increased stewardship and generosity among their members.
  • John Ronsvalle, Sylvia Ronsvalle, U. Milo Kaufmann. At Ease: Discussing Money and Values in Small Groups – Describes a method for making people comfortable discussing the difficult issues of linking money with values.
  • Lyle Schaller, 44 Ways to Expand the Financial Base of Your Church – A older but still valuable treasury of ideas on how to increase congregational generosity.
  • Stan Toler and Elmer Towns, Developing a Giving Church – The appendices include sermons, stories, quotes, and a pastor’s stewardship checklist.
  • Ken Blanchard and Truett S. Cathey, The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure – Not written to churches, but may provide useful insights, anecdotes, and illustrations for teaching and practice.


Development Guides, Families
  • Eugene C. Roehjlkepartain, Elanah Dalyah Naftali, and Laura Musegades, Growing Up Generous: Engaging Youth in Giving and Serving - A substantive, well-researched, and practical guide to nurturing a spirit of generosity and service among teens.
  • Carol Wehrheim, Giving Together: A Stewardship Guide for Families – Helps to involve the whole family in coming to grips with the relationship between faith and money, time, and talents.


Do you have an idea, insight or resource related to this cohort?