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Course Syllabus - SJ-01 - Theological Principles of Stewardship

by Scott Jacob

Course Objectives

The main objective of this course is to assist students as they engage in understanding the biblical and theological principles that are the foundation of their stewardship ministry and personal practices. 

Stewardship does not take place in a vacuum. It takes place in the daily lives of God’s people – in a particular culture, specific congregation, with some variations of biblical emphasis that guide and direct it. History, both biblical and local meld together to form the various practices that take place in stewardship ministries across the Church. 

And we live in a “shifting” culture. Change happens, with or without our participation or permission. How does “change” or “shift” effect our stewardship practices and approaches? And how do our theological principles ground us and guide us as we formulate our stewardship ministries in our congregations.

As a result of participating in this course students will be able to articulate the theological principles that guide their personal stewardship practices and their participation and leadership in the stewardship ministry of their congregation.

Course Activities

This course will include four video lectures, reading the book “Stewardshift” by Bob Sitze, selected Bible readings, participating in the weekly Class Forum, and participating in three conference calls.

Required Reading

“Stewardshift”, by Bob Sitze, Morehouse Publishing, New York, 2016

Recommended Reading

“How to think Theologically” by Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2006

“Embracing Stewardship” by Charles R. Lane and Grace Duddy Pomroy, Embracing Stewardship, LLC, 2016

“Preaching and Stewardship” by Craig A. Satterlee, Alban Institute, Herndon, VA, 2011

“Propel” by Clayton L. Smith, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2015

Session One - “Setting the Table”

October 30 – November 5, 2016

1. Become familiar with the Course Home Page and the informational sections.

  • Add yourself to the class roster
  • Access technical help
  • Find details on class videos as well as optional reading materials
  • See requirements for CEU credits

2. Bible Reading

a. Genesis 1:1, 2:4-5

b. Psalm 24:1-3

c. Genesis 1:26, 2:15

d. Deuteronomy 8:10, 17-18

3. Watch Class Video – “Setting the Table”

4. Reading – “Stewardshift” p. ix – 74

5. Class Forum Discussion 

  • Make a mental inventory of all that you possess, all that you have influence over in your life (material possessions, relationships, talents, “stuff”, etc). List the 15 most important items to you at this time in your life.
  • Describe your experience of the “Stewardship Ministry” of your congregation.  What are the Theological Principles that appear to influence it?
  • In chapter one of “Stewardshift”, Sitze describes the theology and practice of various biblical and historical views on Stewardship (“Back to Beginnings, Jesus and Stewards, Paul and Stewards, The Economy and God, The Anglo-Saxon Gloss, A More Recent History, Limiting Side Effects, and After Discipleship).  Select one that speaks to your churches tradition or your personal experience and describe how that influences your understanding of Stewardship.

6. Conference Call - November 1, 2016  6:00pm – 7:00pm Central Time

Session Two - “Cultural Influences”

November 6 – 12, 2016 

1. Bible Reading – Luke 15:11-32

2. Watch Class Video – “Cultural Influences” 

3. Reading – “Stewardshift”  pp. 75-144

4. Class Forum Discussion

  • Reflecting upon your cultural experiences (regional, socio-economic, denominational, etc.) describe how these outside or setting influencers have been instrumental in the development of your personal theological perspective.
  • In Chapter 6, Sitze describes the wisdom that is available in secular stewardship language and activities. In what ways have you found wisdom through the secular world around you that you think the church could engage or find as a welcome influence for our stewardship ministry?
  • In Chapter 7, Sitze describes our “stewardship wisdom” in contrast to “stewardship principles”(pp 100-101).  Our “wisdom” is about how we function as a “trustee” of the blessings we have been entrusted with by the owner. This is at the core of our understanding of our stewardship. Describe what you see as key elements of your “wisdom” as you make personal decisions as a trustee of the blessings you have been entrusted with by God. 

Session Three - “Our Culture Has Shifted”

November 13-19, 2016 – 

1. Bible Reading – Matthew 1:1-17

2. Watch Class Video – “Our Culture Has Shifted”

3. Reading – “Stewardshift” pp. 145-205

4. Watch Youtube Video – “Why am I Here” by Scott Carter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH0kL0aHbO4

5. Class Forum Discussion

  • In the Youtube video, Carter declares that “he is not a Christian”, that he “gives Jesus the benefit of the doubt”, and “yet he attends worship most every Sunday”.  As church people, we might consider this type of behavior as unusual, but we live in a culture where this is more common than not for people.  Where in his sermon do you hear theological principles of stewardship being described?  How might we engage his recommendations in our work in stewardship ministry?  
  • As you think about the generations that we engage with in our churches today, how might understanding the experiences of the Net Generation and Millennials be helpful for Builders and Boomers as we engage together in the stewardship work in our congregations? 
  • In Chapters 9-12, Sitze moves into more practical exploration of “What If’s…” as he explores the possibilities for our stewardship ministries by connecting with Natural History, tools for Financial Planning, Philanthropy and Community Organizing. This begins to move us from consideration of our Theological Principles as being foundational to our stewardship thinking to more practical possibilities.  Of these four chapters and the topics they explore, which is the most challenging for you as you consider it from your sense of Theological Principles or foundations, and why?

6. Conference Call – November 15, 2016 – 6:00 – 7:00pm Central Time

Session Four - “The Practical Matters”

November 20-26, 2016 

1. Bible Reading – Mark 10:17-27

2. Watch Class Video – “The Practical Matters”

3. Read – “Stewardshift” pp. 206-249

4. Class Forum Discussion

  • In chapter 13, “Beyond Happy”, Sitze talks about the drive to “be happy” in our culture, and shows how the many things that we assume will provide us with happiness fall short or even give us the opposite.  In light of our discussions in this course, what does “Happy” look like for you as a steward or trustee of God’s blessings?
  • List your “Theological Principles” that guide your personal stewardship. (Are any of them new for you?)
  • In terms of how the practical matters, what new insights or practices will you use in your work in stewardship ministry – both personal and corporate?

5. Conference Call – November 22, 2016 – 6:00 – 7:00pm Central Time