What’s on Your Summer Reading List?
Last week I was sure we had slipped right into summer. But now I find out, thanks to the Old Farmers Almanac, that summer doesn’t actually start until June 20 or 21 (depending on your time zone) when “the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator.” And you thought this was just a blog about generosity.
Well thank goodness. Now you have a week to gather up some books so you can be ready to hunker down and get through your summer reading list. So in between reading Frederick Buechner, Danielle Steele, Flannery O’Conner, Henri Nouwen, and a little more Danielle Steele here are my picks for the top five reads in the field of…I know you’re on the edge of your seat…stewardship! Get yourself ready to make a difference when everyone comes flocking back to church in September.
Christopher, J. Clif, Not Your Parents' Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship (2008). Abingdon Press.
This is the most popular and perhaps most accessible of all the books listed here. It’s an easy read and will have your finance/stewardship committee engaged in some meaningful dialogue about the purpose of and how to do stewardship in your church. It is light on the spiritual reasons for giving but very strong on practical suggestions.
Durall, Michael, Creating Congregations of Generous People (1999), The Alban Institute. (Note: this book is no longer in print but can be ordered through Amazon or ABE Books).
If I had to choose one book that changed my point of view about stewardship, this is it. Moving beyond tips (though they are here), Durall does the best job of explaining stewardship as a spiritual practice. The book’s first chapter is entitled “What Kind of People do We Want to Become?” That sets the tone for this excellent read.
Jamieson, Janet T. and Jamieson, Philip D. Ministry and Money: A Practical Guide for Pastors (2009). Westminster John Knox Press.
Alert! If you have never had a class in seminary or read a book about how the church should do its financial business – this is the book you must read. Chock full of real-life examples, the Jamiesons will help you understand why your church needs to have excellent accounting practices, how to read budgets, and decipher financial reports.
Lane, Charles R., Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregation (2006), Augsburg Press.
“Ask, thank, tell” has become the mantra of many of us in the stewardship arena – and it is the title of this wonderful little book. Lane melds both the theological and the practical in a way that most people can understand. It, too, is an engaging read. If I had to choose one book for a congregational committee or small group to read, this is the one I would pick.
Searcy, Nelson, Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in your Church (2010), Baker Books.
I put Maximize on my top five list because it contains a lot of great ideas. Searcy has a website where he encourages you to generously “steal” templates of letters and forms – thus preventing you from re-creating the wheel. Be aware that he comes from a theologically conservative background – and be doubly forewarned that if you sign up for his email blasts, you will be totally inundated with offers to buy his various products. Give him his due, he is quite the entrepreneur.
So, there you have it. Let me know what books you suggest be added to this list. And, if you read a couple of the ones above, let me know what you think. Happy summer! Happy reading!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.