“There are three conversions necessary,” Martin Luther wrote of Christian discipleship: “The conversion of the heart, the mind and the purse.” Luther was experienced enough in the affairs of the world to add, “Of these three, it may well be that we moderns find the conversion of the purse the most difficult.” Five centuries later, Luther’s words still ring true. Although “stewardship” involves the proper use of all the gifts that God has given us — time, health, intelligence, special abilities, friends, family, church and so on — most of us have a hard time understanding how and why God wants us to share our financial gifts with others. Stewardship education in the church helps our people to see all their gifts, and especially their money, as tools God gave us to minister to the world around us with the love of Christ. Broadly speaking, when people are generous with their money, it often indicates their hearts and minds are also in the right place. Isn’t that what Jesus meant when he taught, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34)?
Here are some great websites for general stewardship education:
The Stewardship of Life Institute – Headquartered at Gettysburg Seminary, this ELCA-affiliated nonprofit is devoted to inspiring, educating and equipping Christians to see stewardship as a key element of their walk as Christians. Lots of resources and links for personal and congregational use. Center for Stewardship leaders – This is Luther Seminary’s stewardship website, full of articles, sermons, study guides and other resources to help underscore stewardship in your congregation. ELCA Stewardship – Our denomination’s Stewardship website has a trove of resources for your congregation to use for education, inspiration and practical purposes. The Episcopal Network for Stewardship – This organization gathers together leaders and agencies from the Anglican Communion to help teach and encourage stewardship. Lots of good resources.
Here are some stewardship programs to look at:
Make it Simple – This is the ELCA’s major stewardship campaign offering from just a couple years ago. You’ll find everything you need to launch an education and annual response campaign in your congregation.The online version is a mess, but our synod office has copies of the DVD set for free. Email Rob Blezard if you want one.
“Stewards of God’s Love” – This new year-round stewardship resource is available to purchase or as a free PDF download. Our synod office has some copies available for free. Email Rob Blezard if you want one.
How to Improve Financial Stewardship – This resource outlines the six most popular financial response models used by ELCA congregations. An easy-to-follow guide for new stewardship leaders.
Step-by-Step: Fostering Financial Stewardship in Your Congregation – From the ELCA, a 50-page guide that lists 17 steps your congregation can take to increase giving.
A Guide to Year-Round Stewardship Planning – 46-page guide from the Presbyterian Church. Includes samples of many of the elements you need, such as pledge cards, bible studies and letters.
Faith Aflame – The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod offers excellent resources on this site to equip its congregations to teach and preach about stewardship, as well as hold an annual campaign.
Here are some sites dealing with stewardship of creation:
Lutherans Restoring Creation – Here’s how they describe themselves: “LRC is a grassroots movement promoting care for creation in the ELCA.” You’ll find lots of ideas for sermons, discussion, worship, education and more.
Creation Justice Ministries – This is the cutting-edge program of the National Council of Churches that used to be called its Eco-Justice Program. By whatever name, the program has a trove of ideas and free resources.
Blessed Earth – This organization has a catchy slogan, “Serving God, Saving the planet.”
An abundance of additional ELCA stewardship resources are available to you:
ELCA Stewardship Resources – You can download a variety of materials to assist you in growing steward leaders. You’ll find sermon ideas, Bible studies, bulletin inserts, congregational surveys, guidelines for congregational fundraising, narrative budget planning, and much more.