What People Are Saying About Betsy’s Workshops:
“Betsy knows her stuff. A wealth of information, energy and knowledge of resources.”
“I especially appreciated the material covering stewardship teams and how to plan stewardship campaigns.”
“Idea of a year-round Generosity Team to highlight generous giving as discipleship.”
“Ways to track growth for vibrant / faithful stewards, maturing as a congregation, stewardship of the church’s full ministry.”
“Helpful! Many creative and positive ideas.”
“Very well-presented and organized, with many things to take back to my church. Ideas that stand out:
1) Revive testimony – why give, what the church does for me, etc.
2) Focus on individuals and their relationship to God.
3) Importance of pastor regarding planned giving.
4) Talk more openly about money.”
“I learned about how to stimulate generosity through a system of: Ask – Thank – Tell”
“Emphasis on growth in relationship to God through giving of what God has given.”
“Reckoning with cultural / consumer assumptions.”
“Possibility of building budget out of program, not “cut and slash” economics.”
“Emphasize giving the first and the best. Reorganize our church priorities. Affirm our people in all they do and provide.”
“Excellent learning event! Offering our full selves to God.”
“I learned Share-Save-Spend as a new concept when presented in this order.”
“Betsy helped us focus on the importance of joyful giving as an act of worship & praise.”
“Out of this experience, I’d like to remind others how giving is worship.”
“I appreciated the wealth of resources shared, the enthusiasm of the presenter, the ideas, shared experiences, and comments of others in the class.”
“I got the greatest meaning and encouragement out of passing on the excitement for sharing our love for God through stewardship.”
“Out of this experience, I’d like to work on my personal goals – Rethink my thinking –
Ask God to change my heart.”
About Afire With God:
Rekindling a life of meaningful stewardship . . . Betsy Schwarzentraub’s Afire With God addresses the challenges of stewardship. Its short length (115 pages) and the author’s enthusiasm and credentials (ordained clergy and stewardship director within the United Methodist church) make this slim volume an easy and motivating read. Geared especially toward church leaders, it also speaks to congregations and to the spiritually inclined public.
The author’s thesis is that church stewardship efforts often underperform when done as annual “campaigns” or “drives.” Schwarzentraub contends that stewardship is not a seasonal church event but rather a biblically oriented way of looking at our place in the world and the choices we make when managing, conserving, and donating our resources. “Spirited stewardship” involves intentionally enriching our relationship with God through the way we decide on sharing our God-given gifts (talent, time, and money) to benefit others and the world around us. . . .The last two chapters describe a variety of methods for encouraging spirited giving by individuals, congregations, and church leaders. Also included are questions for reflection to assist the process of becoming spirited stewards.
I found this book to be an easy, quick read. My favorite quote about stewardship is "Stewardship becomes a way of life, flowing out from our hearts, into daily action, our faithful behavior reinforcing our faith." I felt a call to action and will be copying a stewardship practice from the book.
Holding the myth of scarcity to the fire – . . . Afire With God explores divine abundance—God’s “creating, redeeming, and empowering love” (110) and how God’s gifts can be multiplied in our personal, communal and religious lives. This book connects the organizational systems of the church with the intrapersonal systems of the individual human being, linking spiritual elements such as grace, gifts, mission/purpose with practical items such as budgets and timeframes.
Circling back to the apparent opposition of scarcity and abundance, AFIRE offers readers a third notion—the economics of “conversion….car[ing] for all the things and relationships in this life, why we care for them: what we are trying to do in the world on God’s behalf” as a way to transform the gifts we receive through God’s grace so they bless the world around us.
The book is highly recommended both for religious organizations as well as for individuals who want to ignite a richer appreciation of what it means to be stewards of the plenty we find when we look around us—both near and far—with gratitude in mind for God’s gift of life and all it offers. This sort of gratitude can’t help but blaze up into a desire to share our time, talents, and money with others. Afire With God is a handy guide on how to increase the effectiveness of generous hearts; it points to one of my mother’s favorite expressions: “What blesses one, blesses all.”
I am not a church person and only read this because it was selected by the book club I'm in, and it seems geared primarily for ministers. That said, I found much of it inspiring and ended up with two pages of notes for when we discuss it at our next meeting. [A quote] from the book: . . . Scarcity begins with unlimited wants: “as long as we believe that more is always better, we will never have enough.”
There is an essence of “love of God” on every page. Wonderful book filled with inspiring, realistic opportunities to improve stewardship. Different religions can use the basic principles offered with an easy to read format.
An all-encompassing stewardship – For too many people who sit in churches, the word stewardship means sermons about money--and usually about giving more money! This may not seem like the best way to review a book on stewardship, but read on and notice the differences between the typical understanding of stewardship and the insightful work of Betsy Schwarzentraub.
Afire with God urges ministries and congregations to become stewards-in-action for all that God has entrusted to us.
"Real stewardship is radical, which means going to the roots of our faith," writes Schwarzentraub. "If we take stewardship seriously -- and joyfully -- it won't be just another addition to the same old programs we've been doing in our congregations. It will change our thinking, acting and imagining. And it will change our vision of ministry, working from the inside out."
. . . Betsy not only gives good arguments for responsible stewardship of church revenue, she offers a “worksheet” after each chapter suggesting what the reader should take away from the chapter and how it can be implemented. Overall, this is a great guide for church leaders to follow with practical ways to achieve the goal.
. . . Through the book Schwarzentraub uses the burning bush and particularly Moses’ experience as a metaphor to explore stewardship. The first chapter is titled Aliens in Egypt but the heading Getting out of Egypt is more the point. The author says, “Christians are like aliens living between security left behind and a new home beyond the horizon.” She goes on to list seven situations the modern church needs to address to help their congregations journey.
Each chapter has Questions and Activities to aid a discussion group. Also, some have ideas for Meditation or Reflection. . . .In the last chapter Schwarzentraub goes back to the metaphor of Moses and the burning bush reminding us “God may have set thousands of bushes on fire hoping to catch Moses’ attention.”
This little book Afire with God, Becoming Spirited Stewards will help ministers, congregations and laypeople to become stewards-in-action.
A very inspiring read for those seeking to understand the gifts offered to us by God, as well as our responsibility in being good stewards to and for our Lord.
“I found it open, warm and inviting … You get disciples instead of bill payers. … I highly recommend it to every church leader who is tired of the same old ways of doing stewardship and is ready to move into a culture of being stewards.”
“Her dynamic dimensions of God in action strike at the very heart of the Christian’s stewardship journey. Afire With God appeals to readers across faith traditions and orders of ministry.”
“This stuff on koinonia is excellent! … Betsy is a very good writer. I find it easy to move along with the flow of the manuscript. … The book has solid theological grounding in line with the theological position we espouse. I would be pleased to urge its reading.”
“This book (Afire With God) is full of excellent stewardship theology followed by practical concrete exercises. It would be an excellent resource for your library and stewardship educational group.”
“Ms. Schwarzentraub knows her subject. The book is fluid – moving from theology to application, to lists of resources with great ease. Her ecumenical range fills her writing and helps stewardship and finance committees everywhere.”
“For me, Afire With God provides a much broader and richer understanding of stewardship. It is well-documented and insightful. It brings together the thoughts of many leading church leaders who are looking at the future of the church. … The reader is challenged to broaden his/her thinking and to imagine the many ways God has gifted us to be in ministry using our many talents. A wonderful resource for church committees and in a retreat setting!”
“Blending fresh insights with basic descriptive theology, she sets Christian stewardship in a fresh context. Her work is timely, current, and helpful for the individual Christian and for the church. Thoughtful descriptions are blended with helpful suggestions, and all of it is well researched and scripturally grounded.”
“Afire With God is an influential stewardship tool for the time we live in now. I was rituals and traditions. I want to fully live out my calling and stewardship / giving experience with God. Author Schwarzentraub offers advice, models, and moreover, a sincere understanding of the problems which keep so many from living fulfilled lives as steward disciples of Jesus Christ and His teachings.”