Welcome to the "Consecrated Stewards" Blog

This blog is intended to provide resources for those interested in grace-based Christian stewardship. It will especially serve as a forum for those using the "Consecrated Stewards" stewardship emphasis of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund and be a place for finding answers to frequently asked questions.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Courageous Stewardship

"The first act of courage is often the release of something held too tightly. And by letting go we often discover that the act is both more difficult and easier than we might have expected. When we find the courage to listen to God and then to let go, we find grace and generosity returned in abundance."
Jill Schumann, President, Lutheran Services in America

Saturday, April 17, 2010


A few years back, a study was done for Princeton University on Religion and Economic Values. (Click Here for more on that study.) That study showed that while Americans gave lip service to their religious values regarding wealth and money, those values seldom were the motivating factors behind basic economic decisions such as job choice, major purchases and attitudes towards wealth.

What religious faith does more clearly than anything else is to add a dollop of piety to the materialistic amalgam in which most of us live. We do not feel compelled to give up any of our material desires, only to put them "in perspective." When finances worry us we pray, and that gives us strength to keep on working. In short, a kind of therapeutic motif is at work. Our faith helps us feel better about ourselves whether we are worried about our finances, whether we have money in abundance, or whether we fall into both of these categories.

The study lists the following reasons why churches fail to make an impact on our attitudes towards money:

1. Money is considered too personal to be discussed openly. The darkest taboo in our culture is not sex or death, but money. We still believe that our personal finances are too ticklish to be discussed with even our most trusted friends. Ironically, while most of us worry about our money, we do so alone. We do not place ourselves in a position to benefit from the counsel of others. Nor do we try to gain the kind of perspective that might come from articulating and testing our own views more openly.

2. Money and morality are kept in separate compartments. Our culture encourages us to think this way. Money is allegedly value-free. We make decisions as consumers, on the basis of advertising rather than as Christians on the basis of our values.

3. People seldom think about connections between faith and money. Fifty-one percent agree that "the Bible contains valuable teachings about the use of money" But agreement is one thing; making use of these teachings is another. Only 29 percent said they had thought more than a little in the past year about "what the Bible teaches about money," and only a few more (31 percent) had thought this much about the broader issue of "the connection between religious values and your personal finances."

4. Clergy may be fearful of seeming too interested in money. Most of the pastors surveyed admitted they found it difficult to preach about money. In many cases, they, together with their parishioners, could not see the connection between faith and money.

5. Stewardship has lost much of its meaning. Stewardship is perceived by the public to mean either something as narrow as charitable giving or something so broad that it has virtually no specific implications. When people were asked what they thought was the best definition of stewardship, 10 percent said it meant "giving a certain percentage of your money to the church," 12 percent thought it was "taking good care of our planet," 16 percent said it meant "remembering that God makes everything," 40 percent said it was "using your individual talents in a responsible way," and 20 percent were unsure. Moreover, only 22 percent said the idea was very meaningful to them; 40 percent said it was fairly meaningful; 20 percent said it was not very or not at all meaningful; and 18 percent were unsure.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stewardship Motivation: Gratitude or Lordship?

A few months ago I attended a day-long seminar on stewardship led by a nationally known speaker and author. One of the key principles he wanted to get across that day was “You cannot understand stewardship until you understand Lordship.” In other words, his theology of stewardship was based chiefly on the premise that God is the Owner of all things, the Lord of all, and we are managers who have the duty and the responsibility to care for and properly use the gifts God has given us.

This week, on the other hand, I read again the core values of Lutheran World Relief. One of those core values is Gratitude. "We are grounded in profound thankfulness for God’s gracious, self-giving love for all humankind, revealed in the redemptive acts of Jesus Christ. Gratitude marks the way we relate to one another and to all creation." It is clear that one of the distinctives of a Lutheran view of stewardship is that you don’t understand stewardship until you understand God’s action of love in Jesus Christ. At that point we say with LWR, "We are grounded in profound thankfulness for God’s gracious, self-giving love for all humankind, revealed in the redemptive acts of Jesus Christ. Gratitude marks the way we relate to one another and to all creation."

The difference is between a theological system that begins with (material principle) the sovereignty of God as compared to one that begins with justification by grace through faith. This is not to deny the idea of God as Owner and we as managers. It speaks, instead, of motivation. It speaks of action that is motivated by gratitude for God’s gracious action in Christ rather than obedience to a role of managing the King’s affairs.

Perhaps the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s definition speaks to both the joyful motivation of gratitude and the action of management: “Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God, and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources, for God’s purposes.”

Does it make a difference what motivates our stewardship? The nationally known speaker in the first paragraph may be able to claim as good a “response rate” for his stewardship program as any grace-based effort may claim, but I believe there is a difference between a response based on duty and one based on gratitude. The Wikipedia article on “Gratitude” notes that “…indebtedness motivates the recipient of the aid to avoid the person who has helped them, whereas gratitude motivates the recipient to seek out their benefactor and to improve their relationship with them.”

Perhaps it has been a sense that stewardship involves the fulfillment of a Christian duty or responsibility that has made people want to avoid the subject. It is only the proclamation of God’s love in Jesus Christ that can begin to evoke that spirit of gratitude that motivates free and joyous stewardship.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Visual Guide to Giving

The following is from MintLife (Click Here for Web Site) Click on chart for clearer view if your browser does not show whole chart.
budget planner – Mint.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ministry Fair Ideas

Those of you who are using the "Consecrated, Lord, To Thee" segment of Consecrated Stewards ( as well as many others) may be interested in some additional ideas for the Ministry Fair event that we recommend for the Sunday before Consecration Sunday. Karen Kogler, Director of Volunteer Ministries at St. Peter's Lutheran, Arlington Heights, IL, provides some hints and resources on her blog, "The Equipper" (Click Here). Included are sample serving cards, ministry fair map, and children's activity from Immanuel Lutheran in Batavia, IL. These are good resources for educating people about the ministries of your church and community and enlisting their time and God-given gifts for these ministries.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

LCMS Districts Cite Role of Consecrated Stewards

November 26, 2009 .................... LCMSNews -- No. 101

Districts report positive results with revitalization, 'Stewards'

By Joe Isenhower Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. -- While the economic downturn continues to challenge ministries synodwide, district presidents report that congregation-revitalization efforts and programs such as "Consecrated Stewards" are helping offset the economy's negative effects as they bolster congregations' vitality and stewardship.

At the Nov. 17-19 meeting of the LCMS Council of Presidents here, four district presidents told of such realities, efforts, and outcomes in a presentation dubbed "the economy of ministry."

They are Rev. Terry Cripe of the Ohio District; Rev. David Stechholz, English; Rev. James Keurulainen, New England; and Rev. Kenneth Hennings, Texas.

Of those four districts, Texas is the one least affected by the economic downturn, as the state's population and work force continue to grow, and the district's budget is less stretched.

"God is blessing us tremendously in Texas," Hennings said, "and we hope to use it to be a blessing to many."

On the other hand, northern states such as Ohio have particularly seen economic loss. For instance, 20,000 workers in Cleveland lost their jobs on the same day, Cripe reported.

Lutheran congregations in the state's urban and rural areas have been especially hard hit, he said. And this year, the district is about $50,000 behind in its budget.

But Consecrated Stewards, congregation-revitalization efforts, and a "Connecting the Congregations" PowerPoint presentation the district's Board of Directors uses to communicate with circuit leaders and laity have "picked up the slack" for many congregations, he said.

With such help, Ohio congregations are staying healthy, helping each other, and increasing financial support for the district, Cripe added.

Through mission bequests from a five-year "Blueprint for Missions" program, the New England District has seen its deficits "reduced significantly," Keurulainen told the COP. "Missions and outreach -- we're doing it."

He also said that 35 pastors in the district are in learning communities for congregational revitalization.

"It's remarkable what revitalization has done for ministry in New England," he continued. "It's changing the culture for the better for many congregations."

"Stewardship just isn't being preached as much as it needs to be," Keurulainen said. "Stewardship needs to begin in the lives of our pastors as they model it in their congregations."

But through the revitalization process and the Consecrated Stewards program, New England congregations are "experiencing the joyful aspects of stewardship," he added.

And although the economy also has affected congregations in the non-geographic English District, "focusing on the high ground of our motto, 'igniting Christ's church in mission' remains our focus," said Stechholz.

He also said that despite deep cuts to its budget, the district has nine new mission starts.

Stechholz said that the congregations and schools of the English District, "in worshiping the living God, are serving in their communities, connecting with the unchurched and dechurched, growing in grace and numbers by the power of the Holy Spirit, and reproducing by planting new churches."

Stechholz emphasized that the district also continues to promote Consecrated Stewards to enhance congregations' mission and ministry through whole-life stewardship.

Consecrated Stewards -- a part of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund's Ministry Services -- provides a spiritual setting for raising up stewardship in congregations. It explores the need of the giver to give, rather than the need of the church to receive.

For more information about Consecrated Stewards, call 800-843-5233 or visit http://www.lcef.org/services/consecrated_stewards.

After discussion when other presidents shared how their districts and congregations are dealing with the economy, Synod President Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick thanked the COP program committee for proposing the "economy of ministry" topic and those who addressed it.

"I think this is one of the most helpful discussions we've had," Kieschnick said, as he emphasized the importance of district presidents "sharing about what works."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ministry in a Time of Recession

Here are some ways your congregation might reach out to the unemployed in your congregation and community.

Pink slip care. Assemble practical care packages for the newly laid off—workers’ rights laws for your state; recent help-wanted ads with Post-it notes and a pen; a grocery gift card; a directory of government services, mortgage renegotiation programs and local relief organizations; and a resume checklist, paper, envelopes and stamps. Encourage church members to give the packages to anyone they know who has just lost a job.

Career counsel. Recruit a human resources director or social services worker from your congregation or community, who is willing to spend a few Saturday mornings advising the unemployed on their rights and how to obtain government assistance. Advertise the free seminar in your local newspaper’s want ads and on community bulletin boards. Make sure your church knows about it—the best advertising is word of mouth.

Job pool. At each worship service, ask church members to fill out a card indicating available jobs they know of or jobs they’re seeking. Use your church Web site as well as local information boards at coin-operated laundry facilities, coffee shops and grocery stores to disperse the information to your community. (Tip: Delegate oversight of this ministry to an unemployed church member and compensate him or her—even if only a little—for the time.)

Coffee per diem. Secure permission to offer free, quality coffee and cookies outside state unemployment offices, temp agencies, etc. Take the encouragement a step further by printing a message of hope on napkins you pass out.

Weekly gathering. Reach out to the unemployed in both the church and your community through a weekly gathering at the church, a coffeehouse or other community hangout. Offer a time of sharing and, at the end, give people an opportunity to pray and be prayed for. Ask people to submit written prayer requests and let them know a team of people will be praying for them throughout the week.

Resume tune-ups. Host a free resume workshop at your church. Recruit or compensate local personnel directors, career counselors (and maybe even an English teacher!), etc., to give a brief resume dos and don’ts seminar, followed by some hands-on assistance for attendees.

—From Outreach magazine, March/April 2009