Like most pastors I graduated from seminary knowing little to nothing about church finances and stewardship. Unfortunately, this area is critical to leading people and leading the church. Many churches are not in good financial shape. This area is perhaps the most important area for seminary graduates to read about. So here are a couple of good places to get started.
I was blessed early in my ministry to have gone to a workshop with author and consultant J Clif Christopher. It was a one day workshop that blew me away. I have shared what I learned there with many people, pastors, and sessions. Christopher has written three main books on stewardship. All three of these books should be required reading for pastors.
Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship– This is Christopher’s dismantling of today’s stewardship practices. In its place, Christopher paints a picture of church finances that is well thought out, mission oriented, and effective in today’s world.
Whose Offering Plate Is It?: New Strategies for Financial Stewardship– This book is a set of practical answers to questions spurned by the previous books. He deals with things like how to get stewardship stories, deal with campaigns, and how to make stewardship a more open topic in the church.
The Church Money Manual: Best Practices for Finance and Stewardship– This is Christopher’s newest book, just put out a few weeks before this writing. It is the most compact and accessible resource for all things church finances. It is now my go-to recommendation to pastors and church dealing with stewardship issues.
After reading J. Clif Christopher’s stuff and deciding to take these issues more seriously in
my own ministry, I also decided to talk about stewardship and preach about stewardship more regularly. Two books have been helpful in this regard. First, Preaching and Stewardship: Proclaiming God’s Invitation to Grow (Vital Worship Healthy Congregations) by Craig Satterlee is a great resource for preaching stewardship sermons. He gives a lot of examples and even highlights opportunities for stewardship topics throughout the lectionary. The other resource that I have used is One Minute Stewardship Sermons by Charle Cloughen. This book is great for taking advantage of the call to the offering. This is a natural place in the service to shape the congregation’s views about money and stewardship.
For a final recommendation, Developing a Giving Church by Stan Toler and Elmer Towns is a good general overview of developing stewardship in a church. It covers all the basic elements of healthy church finances and even includes some sermon ideas.