• ELCA Stewardship: Web and DVD resources, including sermon starters, Bible studies, and ideas for children’s activities and congregational events. For more information, contact the ELCA stewardship office, 8765 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631; 800-638-3522.
• Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money by Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson and Patricia Snell (Oxford University Press, 2008).
• The Stewardship of Life Institute: An independent project out of the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.), offers stewardship resources, sermons, links and more.
Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs, their homes, their financial security. Though the rest of the world may panic, God’s people turn to the Almighty for guidance, courage and strength.
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Ed Kruse, ELCA director for stewardship, offered the ELCA News Service these tips for congregations “to grow a culture of generosity.”
• Do not ignore the economic downturn, yet do not panic. “Address financial factors in ways that do not escalate fear, nor as we are wearing rose-colored glasses,” Kruse said.
• Transform spending habits. Review your entire spending plan, identify any “bad spending habits,” and ask “Where is God in the decision-making process? What do we hear God saying to us?” Kruse said. “Or is God saying, ‘Just trust me. I have been with you throughout your life, as a family and as a congregation. I’m not going to abandon you now.’ ” Although the spiritual message may be that “it’s going to be OK,” he said, “it’s important to take people’s anxiety seriously.”
• Build a good reserve—this is not a time to quit saving.
• Maintain a giving percentage. “There shouldn’t be guilt ... here the gospel trumps the law,” Kruse said.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers