Huge thanks to everyone who worked to enrich the newsletter in 2018, including both those who wrote thoughtful articles and those who shared them with new readers. Community is what makes this work worthwhile which is why it was encouraging to encounter so many new leaders at the Rethinking Stewardship conference. With sights now set on the year ahead, we can still relive the conference talks and read this year's most popular articles through the links below. Enjoy "9 Ways to Enrich Stewardship for 2019," and Happy New Year!
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
9 Ways to Enrich Stewardship for 2019
Our "2018: Year in Review" by Madeline Burbank
1. Make Time to Meet Up
Personal research, reading, and reflection can simmer into something delicious, but face-to-face interactions and workshops add new ingredients to the pot while stirring the ideas already cooking. Keep an eye out for opportunities near you, or consider teaming up with others to host an event yourselves about some particular focus of stewardship. The seminary will continue hosting stewardship events in the future, and our team is inspired by the feedback from participants in the 2018 Rethinking Stewardship conference whose positive takeaways are grouped together in the wordcloud below.
2. Examine Rural Strength
One of the most popular presentations at Rethinking Stewardship was by Larry Strenge, Director for Evangelical Mission, Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA, and you can enjoy the video and presentation slides here. "Cultivating Rural Stewardship" examines toxic myths of scarcity, the foundations of rural strength, and stewardship strategies applicable whether you find yourself in a small town or big city. If you work with people who could use more cultural exposure to Southwestern Minnesota and theological exposure to Care for Creation, consider planning an educational retreat with Shalom Hill Farm.
3. Keep Rethinking Stewardship
Whether you wish you could have been there, or wish you were back, you can keep Rethinking Stewardship with a treasure trove of presentations at your fingertips. Poke around the video playlist menu, where you can even go back to Rethinking events from 2014. In addition to Larry Strenge, mentioned above, 2018 speakers included Adam Copeland, Heidi Droegemueller, Jodi Harpstead, Jennifer Kaalund, Martha Moore-Keish, Susan Nienaber, Angela Reed, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Aus Lecturer: Mark Teasdale, and Erin Weber-Johnson.
4. Read the Bible
Discussing stewardship is nothing new, and people have found great wisdom in scripture for generations. There are plenty of indexes online listing specific Bible verses, such as 1 Peter 4:10, "Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God." But it is also important to explore the pages, not following a directive or table of contents, and staying open to encountering signs and advice from God.
5. Read Another Good Book
Stewardship 101 is free to print and share, or carry everywhere on your mobile device. This short and timely ebook is intended for church members serving on stewardship and generosity committees, for clergy seeking new energy for financial leadership, and for Christians wondering what -- if anything -- God has to do with day-to-day finances.
6. Ask the Children
Younger children may still be learning the basics of currency, cost ratios, and the concept of budgets, but they already understand a lot about stewardship when it comes to identifying what's important in life, and what elements we should consider nourishing with more of our time, energy, and money. Whether you have children in your personal life, or in public interactions of church, take your time to ask the children what they value and how they take care of what's important.
7. Expand Your Audience
Not surprisingly, the Stewardship newsletter article that readers spent the most time on in 2018 has been Preaching Themes for Stewardship by Dr. Steve Ramp, an assortment from 2002 that is ripe for contemplation. If you have never shared a sermon before, consider offering to support pulpit supply at a local congregation. If you are a seasoned preacher, considering expanding your audience by developing an interfaith-inclusive secular-friendly stewardship workshop for the benefit of young people or the public at a local school or library.
8. Sing a New Song
The most popular Stewardship newsletter article of 2018, with over 820 unique pageviews in addition to newsletter recipients, is *drumroll...* "Singing Stewardship: A List of Stewardship Hymns" by Alex Benson. Check it out, and remember that we can't perfectly control life's rhythm, but we can shift the tone and adjust our attempts at harmony to effectively sing a new song, filled with the breath of the Spirit.
9. Enjoy Our Complete Top 10
With over 40,000 unique pageviews between the Stewardship newsletter and website features this year, the Center for Stewardship Leaders is pleased to look back at the Top 10 freshly circulated articles that generated the most interest.