In my many decades of stewardship ministry, I’ve seen that stewardship ministry too often begins with presumptions regarding great and continuing neediness. You probably know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had to cajole your congregation into generosity by revealing the overwhelming problems facing the people of God. Here’s another characteristic of this approach: an overwhelmingly depressing logic about the pervasive incapacities of this congregation. (My way of framing this attitude: “If we had some eggs, we could have some ham and eggs—if we had some ham.”)
When you start with neediness, you get trapped into stress and fear. Both of these conditions elicit reactions like fighting, fleeing, and freezing—hardly behaviors for congregations wanting to get God’s work done! And stress chemicals mess up your brain’s capacity for imagination, action, generosity, creativity, and remembering.
A better place to start? What you already have that could be useful. (So, in the ham-and-eggs formula, you’d start with something like, “We have all this ham; what could we do with it?”) The name for this approach is “asset-based planning and thinking,” but don’t let that term scare you. This is a much better approach, mostly because it leapfrogs over negativity.
Right now you may be thinking about how to fund God’s mission or how to ask people to join in that task. Start your thinking and planning with your already-existing assets—God-given gifts that are useful. (Don’t worry about objectives and outcomes; they’ll show up later.) Take a careful look at all the skills, experiences, education, hobbies, and attitudes of your congregation that you might use in getting God’s work done. And then put them together to forge approaches that start with strengths, not weaknesses.
I’ve seen this work in places where the only assets people could think of were their problems—“We’re just a bunch of old people here”—and I’ve seen this approach ignite excitement in places where all the assets seemed odd—“Most of us have lawn tractors.” In almost every setting, the assets are surprising motivators, because they’ve been hiding behind all the presumed neediness! And when they’re exposed to the wind of the Holy Spirit, the assets join together, generating innovation, energy, and a can-do attitude that eventually succeeds. That’s why I encourage you to explore you’re the usefulness of all your gifts.
And by the way, you most likely have both the ham and the eggs.
“A Better Starting Point” is excerpted and adapted from Simple Enough: A Companion Along the Way by Bob Sitze, now available for your e-reader. Copyright ©2013 by the Alban Institute. All rights reserved.
NEW E-BOOK NOW AVAILABLE!
Simple Enough: A Companion Along the Way
by Bob Sitze
In his newest work, simplicity blogger Bob Sitze offers readers a year’s worth of periodic observations into the universe of simple living. Sometimes whimsical, often challenging, and always encouraging, Simple Enough wanders through the landscape of contemporary society, helping readers make sense out of their earnest attempts to find joy in managing their lifestyles. Over 150 short and sturdy entries fill the book, casting the author’s insistent eye on parenting, consumerism, faith-based decision-making, technology, daily-life stewardship, and congregational life. A special bonus section helps church leaders approach annual fund-raising efforts in simple ways .
This week – Featured Resources 40% off
Member discounts do not apply | Discount taken in shopping cart
ONLINE ORDERS ONLY | Valid through April 21, 2013
It’s Not Too Late: A Field Guide to Hope
by Bob Sitze
A “field guide” is a small, pocketable book that accompanies you on an adventure or journey. It’s Not Too Late is a field guide to hope—sized so that you can carry it along with you on your daily journey of faith. The entries in this book will help you find hope, whether it’s right in front of you or it remains elusive despite your searchings.
Starting Simple: Conversations About the Way We Live
by Bob Sitze
In today’s complex and busy world, people yearn for simpler lives. Bob Sitze believes conversations change us as individuals and that most important social changes take place through conversation, so in Starting Simple he invites us into heart-to-heart conversations about simple living.
In Not Trying Too Hard, Bob Sitze offers a vision releasing congregational leaders from the growing burden of trying harder to invent and implement “better” worship, evangelism, stewardship, small groups, long-range planning, mission statements, and the like. Sitze advocates a “small-step approach” to change and provides the necessary tools to engage what is possible without trying too hard. He points readers toward the congregation of the future and assures them that they have the capacity to reimagine their own congregations.
Emerging discoveries in brain science are sparking new areas of research as cutting-edge educators and psychologists are asking, “What can we learn from brain science about how we function in the world?” Bob Sitze joins the conversation with a new question: What does the human brain have to do with the beliefs, practices, and structures of congregations? Weaving together clear, accessible explanations about the workings of the human brain, Sitze shows how a congregation’s identity and behaviors are shaped by the work of individual members’ brains as well as by the “collected brains” of the congregation.
Tired of fixing the same old problems that don’t stay fixed?
Facing challenges so ambiguous and complex
you don’t know where to begin?
Ready to shed your “problem-solver” role
and step into a new style of leaders?
Register now and save: Early bird rates through May 23!
Copyright © 2013 the Alban Institute. All rights reserved. We encourage you to share articles from the Alban Weekly with your congregation. We gladly allow permission to reprint articles from the Alban Weekly for one-time use by congregations and their leaders when the material is offered free of charge. All we ask is that you write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how the Alban Weekly is making an impact in your congregation. If you would like to use any other Alban material, or if your intended use of the Alban Weekly does not fall within this scope, please complete our reprint permission request form .
Subscribe to the Alban Weekly.
Archive of past issues of the Alban Weekly.