woman raising hands beneath sunlit sky

Becoming Generous

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | February 22, 2011

“Yes, Scripture reminds us that God loves a cheerful giver. But how can we become generous, joyful givers?” This is the question that Yvonne Martinez Thorne asks in “A Practical View,” in the just-out 2011 issue of Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine.1 Ah, this is a key question, isn’t it? Most of…

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Sample Themes for a Generosity Plan

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | February 11, 2011

Here are sample themes you could use for a year-round Generosity Plan. You might pick one Scripture as the umbrella theme for the entire year for your congregation’s ministries, or you may just use the quarterly themes. Either way, you can weave in worship and Christian education topics and other dimensions of your ministry. Within…

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Five Star Stewardship Award

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | February 11, 2011

What would it take to help your congregation develop a plan for cultivating generosity year-round? The East Ohio United Methodist Foundation has created an incentive for local churches in its conference, called the Five Star Stewardship Award. “The important thing is not to compete with other churches or gain a certain number of points, but…

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Talking with Children about Stewardship

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | February 1, 2011

Children can both learn and teach about faithful stewardship. All that we have belongs to God, and we get to share, manage, and use it on God’s behalf. Stewardship is caring the way God cares for the earth; our minds and bodies; our abilities, money and things; and our choices, time and relationships, all in…

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Personal Connection to Mission

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | January 31, 2011

His white-whiskered face lit up. “I’ve been a Volunteer-in-Mission for years,” he said, citing how many times he had gone to Louisiana to help after the hurricanes. Hands-on ministry isn’t just for folks in their twenties. People of all ages engage with both head and heart when they get their own two hands involved. Personal…

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Our Language for Offerings

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | January 18, 2011

Written 1/18/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church This Sunday in worship, we received a special offering for Human Relations Day as well as our ongoing offerings for God’s work through the local and connectional (worldwide) church. This act reminded me of a conversation I had this week with a…

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A Spirituality of Fundraising

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | January 15, 2011

Written 2/15/2011 Okay, I admit it: I’ve been using the term “fundraising” for everything I don’t like about many secular financial appeal campaigns: lack of theological grounding, emotional manipulation, focus on the money, disregard for the donor as a person, and mechanistic gimmicks. But Henri Nouwen, author, Catholic priest, spiritual mentor, and model for so…

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Basic Training

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | January 11, 2011

Written 1/11/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church       After an extended time off, my spunky horse needed to go back to basic training. For horses, this instructional time includes ground work, safety issues, and fundamental cues for mutual respect and attentiveness. It emphasizes communication and affirms our core relationship…

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Covenant Sunday

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | December 29, 2010

Positive change can happen when we are intentional, but it is still not easy. Many people have followed the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions for the year to come. But the problem we have with resolutions is that they last only a week or two — a month or two at the longest —…

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Stewards of Grace

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | December 21, 2010

Sunlight peeks through smoky pearl skies. Raindrops shimmer, suspended from fine, fragile pine tips. Creation awaits fulfillment in the One who is to come, God incarnate. We are “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries,” called to be found trustworthy and faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1). How can we possibly be worthy of trust in…

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