Book Review: “Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship”
Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship
edited by Adam J. Copeland,
with a foreword by Dorothy C. Bass
Westminster John Knox Press, 2017
Available at Cokesbury »
Adam Copeland gathers a cornucopia of contemporary perspectives on stewardship in his new edited volume. He encourages church leaders to speak boldly about opportunities for giving and not apologize when broaching the topic of stewardship.
An experienced pastor and church planter with an affinity for millennials, Copeland teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN and directs the Center for Stewardship Leaders. He talks regularly about subjects like crowdfunding, social media use by pastors, and college ministry.
Copeland likens the field of stewardship to a fugue by J. S. Bach in which money is the melodic theme that “blossoms into rich, textured variations” as others reflect what it means to give (xiv). He assembled an ecumenical, diverse group of scholars and pastors to reflect in fresh ways on traditional and new areas of stewardship. These topics range from finances, work, time, spiritual gifts, and the body to variations on the theme such as social capital, the life of the mind, gifts of the end of life, and privilege. Copeland contributes a chapter titled “Technology: Digital Gifts."
Three noteworthy discussions in this book relate particularly to church stewardship ministries. David P. King in “Stewardship of Money and Finances” offers insights into the power of money and provides organic metaphors for stewardship as “tending our souls, aware of our unique fears and desires; nurturing our relationships with money as it marks a way of life; and leading us to experience faithful living and the joy of giving” with generosity as a way of life (39-43). David Gambrell proposes spiritual practices in “Stewarding Spiritual Gifts” as ways of loving God and our neighbor through gifts of heart, soul, mind, and strength, as well as through the ultimate gift of worship (85-91). Kathleen A. Cahalan identifies a need by people in various life stages to explore vocation as an opportunity for the church to create communities of discernment in “Stewardship of Work” (134-137).
Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship is an engaging guide for pastors and stewardship leaders. Each contributor concludes their chapter with discussion questions and suggested applications for life together in the church. Copeland also compiles an annotated guide of related biblical texts and preaching themes for each chapter to spur further discussion and inspire year-round worship planning.