Bishop Schnase brought “Extravagant Generosity” in United Methodist lexicon with his Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations and this is the logical next step. The best part of the program is Schnase’s Daily Readings companion that is not only a great devotional but in my opinion offers a couple dozen excellent sermon starters for pastors not completely comfortable preaching about stewardship. The program offers videos that are high on style and completely lacking any real substance, so save your money there. This program would be best for churches with strong small group programs to take advantage of the readings.
I always get concerned when churches want to mix in a bunch of other stuff to their stewardship campaign. Too often they spend lots of time talking about time and talent and treasures becomes an afterthought. But I firmly believe that giving is a spiritual discipline so what I love about Committed to Christ is that Bob Crossman puts it on equal footing with prayer, reading the Bible, worship attendance, advocacy, and mission work. The full program even includes six pledge cards, one for each discipline that invites your congregation to make commitments in all the areas. There is a six week study plan for your small groups as well.
In my opinion you can’t go wrong with Adam Hamilton and I’m thrilled that he put together a stewardship program. This is a great program for churches whose members “can’t afford” to give more to the church but the cars in the parking lot and the vacation pictures on Facebook suggest that there are indeed resources within the congregation. In his usual style, Hamilton takes on consumerism with a gentle yet assertive approach. It has a five-week study for your small groups and preaching hints to connect the sermon to those lessons.
I’m not sure you can call it “New” when it’s nearly 15 years old, but New Consecration Sunday remains the gold standard for stewardship programs. I really like that it is “idiot proof,” just follow the steps in the book and you’ll do well. Some of the letters and other communications need to be updated, but it is a great step by step plan for an effective campaign. It can get a bit expensive, as it calls for two meals, one with your church council or administrative board a week or so ahead of Consecration Sunday and another immediately following worship. At the end of that meal you announce the results of the campaign. It also requires a guest speaker to preach on Consecration Sunday and lead your congregation through the process.