Reviews and Endorsements
What People Are Saying About "Growing Generous Souls":
This book is both comprehensive and practical in its approach to stewardship as soul work... I highly recommend this book. It outlines a way of life based on gratitude for the “amazing grace” offered to us by God, a grace that flows to us in forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love, but also flows through us for the sake of the world.
Sharon Delgado, author of Love in a Time of Climate Change
Her [Betsy's] first several chapters talk about how most of us feel that our family budgets are too tight already, and we are too busy already. Next she provides a theological lesson about the soul and an existential lesson on who we are. Then she systematically addresses thankful living, joyful living, simplicity as freedom, and the rewards of learning to live generously. I especially like what she has to say about joyful living and about training oneself to enjoy a simplified lifestyle.
Rudy Dyck, church librarian
Dr. Schwarzentraub’s thorough treatment points the way back for anyone tired of the hassled, consumptive, soul-emptying life, instead of the life that really is life.
Dr. Mark L. Vincent, CCNL, EPC – author of A Christian View of Money, The Whys and Hows of Money Leadership, and Money Mania
Here’s a book that can help begin to change the culture from fundraising to embracing the connection of faith and money, generosity, as a core value of spiritual life. . . .
Dr. Michael Reeves, author of Extraordinary Money; co-author of Faith and Money and Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving
. . . a tough-minded criticism of the tendency to do stewardship according to the rules of the regime of money, productivity, and profit but, at the same time, a hope-suffused confidence in the power of God's grace to shape us for living with money in the "economy of grace.” . . .
Dr. M. Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Emeritus, Vanderbilt Divinity School
Betsy Schwarzentraub skillfully weaves wisdom from the ages, biblical and spiritual guidance, and decades of experience as a stewardship theologian and practitioner into a rich fabric that holds the treasure of the spiritual discipline of faithful generosity.
Marcia Shetler, Executive Director/CEO, Ecumenical Stewardship Center
This is a blockbuster of a book. . . . I love its inclusion of the disciplines, the importance of teaching stewardship based on stages of human development, and integrating the teachings of the contemplative movement.
Rodger R. Rice, formerly with Barnabas Foundation
Betsy’s wealth of experience as a pastor, teacher and leading voice in the stewardship arena makes Growing Generous Souls a critical resource for pastors, and an excellent small group study for churches.
Rev. Dr. Christine Roush, Mission Engagement Specialist for American Baptist Home Mission Societies; author of Swimming Upstream: Reflections on Consumerism and Culture
Growing Generous Souls is a great read for clergy and laity who want to lead and develop cultures of generosity and faithful stewardship in the life of their congregation and community.
Rev. Melvin Amerson, Resource Specialist, Texas Methodist Foundation; author of Celebrating the Offering, Stewardship for African-American Churches and Fruit for Celebrating the Offering
Betsy Schwarzentraub sets forth an abundance of spiritual and strategic insights for nurturing grateful givers. I recommend it to anyone serving in stewardship space in the geography of the Kingdom.
Dr. Gary Hoag, founder of generositymonk.com
Growing Generous Souls . . . overflows with the author’s own spirited enthusiasm and authentic deep love of God. Betsy’s latest book is a genuine reflection of her own life and ministry.
Susan Peters, CFRE, Executive Director, California-Nevada United Methodist Foundation
Dr. Betsy gets to the heart of the matter. She helps us focus on where it really counts long term and not simply quick fixes of generosity.
Jerry Coleman, Director of Speakers, The Francis Asbury Society
Betsy Schwarzentraub has brought forth a breakthrough resource to undertake a very different course that is not only biblically based and theologically sound, but also scientifically relevant.
Rev. Sanford Coon, Vice President, Horizons Stewardship
Betsy Schwarzentraub has given the modern Christian church the stewardship equivalent of Calvin's Institutes or Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica.
Rev. Lynn Miller, author of Firstfruits Living and The Power of Enough
[Dr. Schwarzentraub’s] Questions for Reflection at the end of each chapter are brilliant, as well as her closing Soul-Making chapter. As a spiritual director, I will undoubtedly refer to her wisdom and applications.
Jenni Hoag, Soulcare anchoress; founder of soulcareanchoress.com
What People Are Saying About Betsy’s Leadership and Workshops:
Out of this experience, I'd like to explore different opportunities for missional outreach beyond the local community and then encourage my congregation to do this, as well.
I am grateful for your leadership with us. Your clear and gentle and upbeat style have worked well with our team. Sunday's sermon was great -- truly -- and launched us well. I have been impressed by your ability to push us beyond what we've done before without demanding what the people are not ready for.
Betsy helped us to share our experiences and look at the possibilities within ourselves and within the organization of church to move forward.
The relaxed atmosphere was a treat for me. Your love for God is so clear and this presentation was wonderful. Your amount of knowledge is impressive.
I got the greatest encouragement out of thinking beyond money as stewardship. Also reflecting on the organic, intimate relationship with Jesus that is possible if we abide in Him.
"I appreciated the way Betsy presented and organized the process of exploring the vision of [our congregation] for the next five years. Out of this experience, I’d like to share the enthusiasm of this vision session with others in the church." Nancy Carew
"This process has helped us focus on congregational needs to address the community around us." Pam Knox
"Out of this experience, I’d like to be involved in the planning and execution of these ideas in achieving our [church’s] vision." Mark Hanzlik
"I learned a lot from this process. Betsy helped our members understand more of our role as a steward." Pita Naruma
"The workshop was fun and encouraged community. I especially appreciated your acting as moderator and keeping things moving along."
"I learned new ideas and resources [and] hearing some of the creative strategies others are using . . ."
“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”
“I especially appreciated the emphasis on growth in relationship to God through giving of what God has given.”
“I most valued our reckoning with cultural / consumer assumptions.”
“I got the greatest meaning out of the possibility of building budget out of program, not 'cut and slash' economics.”
“It encouraged me to 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.”
What People Are Saying 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.”