Book Review of “Bounty: Ten Ways to Increase Giving at Your Church”
Bounty: Ten Ways to Increase Giving at Your Church
by Kristine Miller and Scott McKenzie
Available from Cokesbury
Kristine Miller and Scott McKenzie describe stewardship as “grounded in gratitude, revealed in prayer, lived in faith” (page 3). They recognize that generosity flows from the heart because stewardship is really a spiritual matter. Leaders, especially pastors, who speak openly about their joy in giving inspire others to greater trust and deeper discipleship.
“People consistently give as much as their leadership expects them to give,” Miller and McKenzie explain, so those "who are not good stewards will never be bold and effective in leading others to be good stewards" (page 30). They invite people to live into their high calling of responding with generosity, thankful for all that God has graciously given.
The authors mix biblical and secular wisdom to assist pastors and church finance leaders. They include philanthropy expert Jerold Panas’s advice that “citing the problems and challenges your organization faces is far less effective than talking about your opportunities, results and successes” (page 57). Leaders should bring forward the good things that God is doing through their church’s mission and ministries. They encourage churches to dedicate time in worship to sharing people's life-changing stories through “cardboard testimonies” or “before and after” videos that reveal how God and the church have supported them through difficulties (pages 80-89). They encourage church leaders to begin staff and committee meetings by seeking situations where God is bringing transformation in people’s lives.
Chapter four is dedicated to practices related to tithing, including ways to understand and engage those who are "proportional givers, flat-amount contributors, and token contributors” as well as those who currently make no monetary contribution. Miller and McKenzie describe how to implement a “trial tithe” as an opportunity for people to step up in faithful giving for a limited time (pages 47-48). People in many churches have described this as a positive, life-changing experience.
The authors believe that children and teens also enliven and inspire adults to greater generosity (page 88). They feature ideas for children and youth to participate in ways that suit their interests and abilities in chapters two, six, seven and nine, rather than mentioning youth as an afterthought. A key innovation is for the church to select an age to "give children a giving bank with three separate components: spending, saving, and giving” and provide “instructions and suggestions for parent to help guide their children in giving” (pages 60-63). This is an excellent addition to the Sunday school’s developmental milestones or faith formation program that can be celebrated with everyone in worship.
Miller and McKenzie propose many practical and spiritual ideas to enhance the church’s year-round stewardship ministry. The authors also propose various intergenerational prayer activities (pages 13-14). An excellent ‘thank you’ note is contrasted with one that should have been positive and personalized. Each chapter concludes with a “to-do” list of related next steps. The book includes a year-round calendar of ways to lift up stewardship opportunities and reflection as part of the congregation’s experience each month.