Barnabas Foundation offers a variety of educational, planning and marketing resources to support your church or ministry’s stewardship and planned giving efforts.

Additional members-only resources (including marketing templates, webinars, planning tools and more) can be accessed by clicking above to log into the Member Center.  To learn more about becoming a Member Organization, Click Here.

  • Mapping Your Congregation’s Assets

    Webinar (For Churches)

    In this webinar, Fred Milligan, Stewardship Consultant at Barnabas Foundation discusses mapping your congregation’s assets. Asset Mapping is a term which arrived in the not-for-profit world a number of years ago as community development leaders sought ways to move economically distressed communities from a scarcity mentality focused primarily on their needs to an abundance mentality focused on their existing resources. Applying this technique to church stewardship attitudes and practices is relatively new and holds potential for helping churches operate out of an abundance mentality.

  • Money & Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Matt Bell

    Marriage Money

    Features and Strengths 

    Spiritual Discipline:  “When we are generous, we live in concert with our design, so it should come as no surprise that modern-day researchers studying the causes of human happiness have found that generous people are happier than those that are not generous.” Throughout the book Bell gives explanations reinforced with scripture verses. He shares his knowledge on the importance of making generosity the highest priority, as well as staying out of debt. Jesus was very clear about money, and Bell makes it easy to follow His example. 

    Easy to read: This book is divided into a “Ten-Step Action Plan for Financial Success.” The reader is taken on this journey of budgeting, working hard, staying out of debt and giving back to the Kingdom of God. Chapter by chapter, the reader is given direction and encouragement that living a debt free life is more than a possibility.

    Challenge: Bell challenges the reader to be proactive with their finances. This book tells of the importance of knowing your credit score and how to manage it. Setting financial goals and creating a budget are discussed, as well as paying back mortgages and car loans in a timely matter. The reader is encouraged to start marriage in a financially stable manner, and encouraged to apply good money management into the couple’s relationship now. “Strive for oneness and teamwork in your finances, and such characteristics will show up in other areas of your relationship, as well.” Money & Marriage helps the reader understand that preparation is indispensable to maintain a healthy money life, not only in one’s own life, but as a couple. 

    “You are in the midst of one of the happiest phases of life, but it can also be stressful. If you are engaged, there are countless decisions to be made about your wedding. If you are newly married, there’s a lot to be accomplished in bringing your lives together, financially and otherwise.” This book was designed to guide the reader through the journey of engagement and marriage. Bell demonstrates to couples that planning is the key to a successful financial future, as well as a successful marriage. The reader is brought on this sometimes confusing journey through credit cards, car loans, mortgages, credit scores, and debt. All the while, Bell shows how to maintain good credit, as well as how to get out of tough financial situations.

    Available at

    Bell has written a book that is a “must have” for young adults both engaged, and married. He walks the reader through living on an established income and guides them through the tough subjects of debt, mortgages and combined salaries. Bell discusses the difficult decisions couples must make regarding money choices and many more topics.

  • Money Matters

    Devotions play a key role in moving our hearts and minds into a receptive attitude.  Their impact on our growth as "good stewards" can be significant, as the opportunities to select appropriate devotions for specific groups expands.  We've selected some of the best resources available to guide you in this area.

  • Money Talk: Questions Your Congregation Ask When You’re Not in the Room

    Webinar (For Churches)

    We have hundreds of candid and healthy conversations with believers about money every year. More often than not, they’re talking with us about how and why they intend to bless (or not) their local churches through their God-given resources. 

    In this webinar, Barnabas Foundation planners will share information and stories about the conversations we’re having with the people in your congregation in the process charitable planning. 

    • What questions do they ask? 
    • What do they wish they’d hear from their pastors and church leaders? 
    • What inspires people to invest in their local churches – and what keeps them from giving more? 

  • Raising Cheerful Givers


    In these next few issues, we will look at what parents can do to help grow generous, joyful givers who will continue to impact Christ's kingdom for years to come.

    Teaching our kids good financial values while they are still under our authority will give them the tools they need to do well in the real world.  The goal is to establish a strategy for independence so they can handle their own finances successfully before they leave home.  It will also provide a rich opportunity to share with them the important understanding that everything we have belongs to God, and we are to handle our possessions in a way that is honoring to Him.

    It is important to provide our children with the proper environment to practice the discipline of handling finances, to monitor their activity so that we can maximize teachable moments, to help them set attainable goals, and finally, be sure to offer them encouragement and praise for their effort.

    Of course, teaching kids good financial values can begin at any age, but the younger we start, the better. Research has found that children ages 7 and younger remember about 90 percent of what they do, but less than 10 percent of what they hear.  They learn best by doing, feeling, hearing and seeing.  Older children also learn best by doing, but have the capacity to begin making personal decisions and learn from them.   Teens are able to think abstractly and logically, but are heavily influenced by peer pressure.  They are beginning to integrate attitudes and behavior with the principles we have taught them.  If by this time we have not taught good financial values, it is unlikely that those values will win over the values of contemporary culture.

    Our kids need to learn about stewardship, and what better place to learn these lessons than at home, right here and right now.

    Raising Cheerful Givers

    Part 2 – THE VALUE OF WORK

    This is the second in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”. Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    According to a 2003 study, students who worked in high school are much more likely to achieve their financial goals and be knowledgeable about money than those who did not.  Working in high school and college, to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with schoolwork, seems to pay off later in life. Children can begin to understand the value of reward for work at a very young age.  The fact of the matter is that the value of work is much more than just monetary.

    Teaching your child the value of work builds character. Children will grow up with more respect for the value of money and what is required to earn it.  It also teaches diligence.  Diligence is a work ethic that means you do the task set before you to the best of your ability in a timely fashion.  Diligence encompasses honesty, purpose, energy, excellence and working heartily.  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23)

    When they are too young to “work”, children need a source of money that enables them to learn how to save, spend and share.  One such source is an allowance.  Sometimes there is debate among parents of whether an allowance is good.  Some may feel that children need to understand that as part of a family, they do chores simply for the benefit of the family community.  While contributing help to the family unit is very important and right, parents may miss the opportunity of a valuable teaching tool if there is no allowance. 

    Have you ever been in the store when your child eyes the toy that represents the latest hot “toy craze” or technological gadget that he really needs and he needs it now?  Do you hold your ground and simply respond, “No” as you prepare to once again do battle with the crankiness that follows?  Or, do you smile and ask your child, “How soon will you have enough money to buy it?”

    Whether the money is given or earned, the money is theirs.  If they choose to blow the money on the ugliest (in your eyes) and most expensive shoes in the store, let them do it.  When they are short on cash, they will realize the benefit of a wiser decision.  Keep telling yourself that the reason your children are receiving money is because you want them to learn to manage it. 

    In our next issue, we will further discuss the idea of allowances.

    Raising Cheerful Givers


    This is third in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    As Howard Dayton states in his book, Your Money Counts, “Learning to handle money one step at a time is part of a child’s education, a part that parents cannot leave to teachers but must direct themselves.”  We can begin helping them make wise choices at an early age.

    When children are too young to “work”, children need a source of money that enables them to learn how to save, spend and share.  One such source is an allowance.  

    Ideally, allowances should not be tied to chores, but you may consider paying children to do tasks for which you might otherwise pay someone else.  This can be a great opportunity to teach them about the connection between work, tithing and money and help them develop a sense of pride and responsibility in being compensated for achieving a hard-earned goal.

    Some general guidelines:  Many parents start with one dollar per week for kindergartners and go up by one dollar per year through elementary school.  As your child enters high school and becomes eligible for outside employment, it is a good idea to discontinue allowances during summer vacation because this will probably motivate your teen to earn some of his own money by having a summer job. 

    When it comes to money, many times parents find it difficult to keep a good balance of giving to their children but also encouraging them to pick up more of the responsibility.  This is a personal decision each parent needs to make given the age and maturity of their child.  However, the most important thing you can do is to have a plan that is clearly communicated to your child before a crisis of wills occurs.  If we always give, give, give to our kids, someday they will experience a rude awakening.

    Clearly, over-indulgence with things can hinder the development of a child’s character and quickly destroy the need for initiative and motivation. 

    In our affluent society, many of us are giving our kids so many things and spending so much on them, that we may be spoiling their chance of growing into responsible adults.  The best response:  an allowance.  Once your kids have discretionary money of their own, you can begin to say to your child, “If that is what your really want, when you’ve saved enough money, I’d be happy to drive you to the store.” 

    Our next issue will discuss the importance of teaching children how to budget and manage their money.


    Raising Cheerful Givers


    This is fourth in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    Once children receive a source of income either by allowance or other means of making money, they are ready to learn how to manage it.  The first step is making a budget and practicing the discipline to stick to it.  Teaching children how to budget will not only help them reach their goals, but will also teach them how to make wise choices throughout their lives. 

    To effectively create a budget, children need to understand three things:  sharing (tithing), saving and spending.  Instead of just dumping all their money into a piggy bank, we want to help our children determine an appropriate amount or percent of income for each area.

    SHARING. Perhaps the most important lesson in our children’s financial training is the concept of stewardship.  Sharing doesn’t come easily for most children.  Their natural sense of ownership says, “It’s mine and I want to keep it!”  This is an opportune time to help them understand that everything is not ours but is really God’s. We are just managing or “taking care” of it for Him.  This concept begins to lay the foundation of a lifetime of faithful stewardship.  Sharing also teaches children that the world is bigger than themselves.  By sharing, they will understand the value of  reaching out to help others.

    SAVING. Setting short- and long-term goals with our children, depending on their age, will be very beneficial to them and their future.  Whether it is a new toy, video game, bike or other item, saving helps children understand the rewards of accumulation now and spending later.  To help a child stay motivated in saving, you may want to offer to match with your own money all or some of the amount they save. 

    SPENDING. The last category is discretionary spending.  Let them spend this amount on what they choose. Let them make the decisions, good or bad, about what to buy.  After purchases are made, discuss it with them. For example, after they have bought yet another video game, share with them what else they could have used with that money.  Or, after they’ve made a good decision, show them how others are making less desirable purchases.  Allow this to be a learning experience so they can learn the importance of making good decisions. 

    Children can learn the principles of sharing, saving and spending at a very early age.  For example, preschoolers can be given three coins each week to put into the three categories. 

    Once children enter grammar school, they can begin to divide their income by percentages.  A good guide to start is ten percent of their money goes into sharing, 50 percent into saving and 40 percent into spending.  There is no borrowing from one category to another.  Remember when the spending money is gone, it’s gone.  By supplementing those budgets, we would defeat the purpose and send the wrong message.

    It doesn’t take children long to recognize that money is important.  It takes more time to learn how to use it well.  Remember, not having a plan is a plan to fail.  The rewards of teaching good financial management according to biblical principles will provide our children the foundation for joyful giving and responsible living.

    Raising Cheerful Givers


    This is fifth in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    It is very easy for children and adults to think about all the things they want. It might be something someone else has or something shown on television.

    In a world where there are so many things, there is always something that is better than what we already have. Too often, the quest to have the best becomes all consuming – and ultimately less and less satisfying. Contentment does not come from material things. But that is a hard lesson to teach.

    So what does correlate with happiness? It is the attitude that Paul describes in Phil. 4:11-12 as learning to be content. When we are content with what we have, we are more likely to appreciate God’s gifts to us.

    But how can we demonstrate that fact to children? Even at an early age they experience the desire to have more and more, especially something someone else has. If that desire remains unchecked, it turns into ugly patterns of expectation and entitlement.

    It is unrealistic to expect our children not to be enticed by more things or to experience peer pressure as they get older. But children who don’t know how to control their appetites often become adults who are drowning in debt.

    As parents, it is our responsibility to model control techniques. One of these is delayed gratification. When children see Mom setting aside some money each week to make a major purchase – in fact, when they help Mom by charting the progress toward a goal - they become participants in delayed gratification.

    Such an exercise shows them how to work towards a goal and helps temper their appetite for more. With delayed gratification, there is a sense of responsibility and expectation. It teaches discipline, restraint and impulse control. They begin to realize how methodical savings can lead to a goal they can truly appreciate.

    As Dr. David G. Myers states in his book, The Pursuit of Happiness, “Happiness depends less on having things than on our attitude toward the things we have.” He also notes that well-being is something other than being well-off.

    Helping our children examine what is meaningful and then having the courage to confront the corrosive quest to always want the best brings a sense of contentment to our children and to our families.


    Raising Cheerful Givers


    This is sixth in a series of articles on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    When you left home, how well prepared were you to make serious financial decisions? 

    We spend 18 years preparing our children for adulthood, but only a few hours teaching them the use of credit and money. Yet, the failure of most marriages can be attributed to problems with credit and money. Even more importantly, the misuse of money destroys a Christian witness.  As parents we have a great responsibility.

    In her book, Branded:  The Buying and Selling of Teenagers, Alissa Quart writes that “those under twenty-five are now the fastest-growing group filing for bankruptcy.”   As we discussed in earlier articles, it is critical to lay the groundwork early in our children’s lives by teaching them how to share, how to handle small amounts of money and to let them experience the positive value of delayed gratification.  Once they reach teen years, they will be faced with bigger decisions that involve higher-risk, large-ticket items and will be less open to parental advice and suggestions.

    One of the best things to do while teens are still at home is to take them to a local bank to open their own checking account, perhaps with a debit card. Such accounts help to teach the discipline of tracking money. They provide an opportunity each month to review the statements together as you teach them how to manage an account. Once they have learned to manage a simple account, they can more easily graduate to transactions such as house and car payments.

    If your teen or young adult will be leaving soon for college or off on their own to work, they will be bombarded with offers for car loans and credit cards.  Unfortunately, this is the time too many young people naively pile up debt that takes years from which to dig out.  The device that digs the hole is often a personal credit card.

    Our consumer culture works overtime to convince young people they deserve a fantasy lifestyle. Teens need to understand that when they put money into investments others pay them rent for using their money. But when they borrow, they have to pay others to rent the money. And if they bounce a check or miss a payment, no matter how good the excuse, debt quickly turns into high interest loans, often as high as 25%, and additional credit becomes impossible to get.

    As Christian parents we need to give our children practice in using all the tools they need to manage bank accounts, credit cards, consumer loans and investments by the time they graduate from high school.  This will give them a solid foundation for their family finances in the future, and provide them with the ability to continue the practice of joyful, generous giving to impact Christ’s kingdom. 


    Raising Cheerful Givers


    This is the seventh and final article in our series on “Raising Cheerful Givers”.  Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money, but also become joyful stewards.

    Have you ever heard the saying, “We can teach what we believe, but we only reproduce who we are”?  The most powerful tool we can use to teach our children is how we conduct our lives everyday. 

    When we do this intentionally, we follow the Lord’s instruction in Deut. 6:6-7: These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Notice how the Lord suggests not only talking about his commandments but also modeling them.  It is our responsibility to teach, talk and model. 

    As we’ve discussed in this series of articles, today’s kids need all the help they can get to thrive financially in this world, while fully understanding the connection between faith and finance.  Helping them understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money but also become good stewards. 

    As Nathan Dungan states in his book Prodigal Sons and Material Girls, “You are your child’s best hope for growing up resistant to the consumer culture.  Parents have great influence in shaping their kids’ values, priorities and habits.  And the sooner you realize that virtually every message your child hears about money promotes spending, the more prepared you will be to counter with messages on the value of saving and the joy of sharing.”

    When we are looking for it, life brings countless opportunities to model to our children an eternal perspective on life, money and possessions.  Some ways to do this are:

    Show an attitude of thankfulness at all times.

    ·   Get children involved in your giving activities.

    ·   Be honest with your children. Let them know that giving isn’t always easy but that it shows how much we value what God values.

    ·   Show children how to save as a family for special activities such as vacations or other items.

    ·   More is not always better. Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you need to have it. Let your children witness contentment in your life.

    The most important thing we can do is to pass our faith in Christ to the next generation. As parents (and grandparents), we have a great responsibility to share practical biblical truths to our children.  In many ways we are in a race against time.  Unless our children learn and understand God’s financial principles of sharing, saving and spending, they will not be financially able or have the motivation to support the Lord’s work in this world.

    Our prayer is that every parent and grandparent reading this article will clearly model financial faithfulness to future generations.   May God bless us in this task. 

    Today’s kids will need all the help they can get to thrive financially in this world, while fully understanding the connection between faith and finance.  Our children and young people are under assault with messages to spend, be greedy and grab immediate gratification wherever possible.  Our culture is teaching our kids how to handle money.  It is not God’s way. Helping our children understand financial principles will not only help them manage their money but also become good stewards.

  • Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids (Kids thru Teens)

    Raising Financially Freedup Kids

    Kids are bombarded with hundreds of enticing and deceptive messages about money every single day. Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids gives parents hope that countering the influence of our broken culture is possible - but it doesn't happen by accident. Parents must be intentional in both words and actions. Author David Briggs help you do just that - offering proven principles and practical wisdom to guide you along the path of raising financially responsible and healthy kids.

    Strengths and Features

    Long term perspective. Raising Financially Freed Up Kids emphasizes what will matter in 50 years (answer: "training, teaching and preparing our kids for life."). This long-term "big picture" view is presented as the antidote to a society suffering from "affluenza" - spurred on in part by hundreds of advertising and cultural messages aimed at kids that can be harmful to them financially and are often contrary to the teachings of Scripture.

    Highly Practical. Raising Financially Freed Up Kids is built around seven keys for preparing kids to be financially responsible now and in the future:

    • Key #1 - Teach and Model Healthy Financial Practices. 80% parents believe that teaching good money habits is essential for their kids, but only 35% are actually doing anything about it. 
    • Key #2 - Prepare Kids to Survive in a Harsh Financial World. Sometimes we think we love our kids best by protecting them from harsh realties and making life as easy as possible - but what we are really doing is sending them into the real world handicapped.
    • Key #3 - Train Your Kids to Avoid the Dangers of Materialism. Our stuff takes so much time we have little time to devote to relationships, yet Jesus made it clear that the first and greatest commandment is about relationships - to God and to others.
    • Key #4 - Give Your Kids Authority for Financial Decisions. It's critical for kids to experience the financial ramifications - both positive and negative - of how they handle money. 
    • Key #5 - Teach Kids to Budget. Starting kids early on a simple budget is ...a cornerstone of good money management throughout life.
    • Key #6 - Teach Kids that Work is a Normal Part of Life. If kids don't work outside the home, then we have a special obligations to be sure they learn the connection between work and pay at home.
    • Key #7 - Teach Your Kids that God Cares about How They Handle Their Money and Possessions. The ultimate goal is for our children to...understand that everything we have has simply been entrusted to us by God and actually belongs to Him.

    Creative Content. You'll find fresh ideas for using allowances as a learning tool for life in the "real world," three kinds of jobs that every child should experience at home, and specific ideas and action steps for kids at each developmental stage-from preschool through high school.

    Format. The Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids program includes a DVD, Participant's Workbook, and a Facilitator's Guide. The Participant's Workbook (used with the DVD) will walk you through two Bible-based, ninety-minute sessions. The Facilitator's Guide (which contains ideas for promoting and setting up the class) is designed to be used in retreats, workshops, or small group studies. There is also a section which lays out age-appropriate approaches for teaching these principles.

    Other Considerations

    Table of Contents. Everything about this content is excellent: it's biblical, practical, creative, and easy to use. The only weakness discovered in this review was the Table of Contents in the front of the Participant's Workbook. It gives little help in locating specific elements of the otherwise outstanding content, simply referring readers to "Acknowledgements", "Session 1" and "Session 2."

    Kids are bombarded with hundreds of enticing and deceptive messages about money every single day. Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids gives parents hope that countering the influence of our broken culture is possible - but it doesn’t happen by accident. Parents must be intentional in both words and actions. Author David Briggs help you do just that - offering proven principles and practical wisdom to guide you along the path of raising financially responsible and healthy kids.

  • Seizing our Roles as Stewards

    Seizing our Role as Stewards

    “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”
    -Matthew 25:23

    A few years ago, a biographer researched the life of the Duke of Wellington. He had no difficulty tracing the major events of his life, but pushing beyond public knowledge to an understanding of the private side of the Duke remained difficult. Then this researcher came across a box of his financial records. When the researcher learned what the Duke had done with his money, he finally discovered the Duke’s deepest values and most important priorities.

    If someone were to come across our financial records a hundred years from now, what would our check registers or our Quicken files say about us? Would we be embarrassed by our use of money? Would our financial records give any sign that we sought to live as faithful stewards of the treasures God had entrusted to us?

    We don’t use the word “steward” very much in our culture. The only steward most of us meet is the one who brings us a cup of coffee or a bag of peanuts on a flight. But in biblical times, stewards were among the most important people in society. A steward had command over the resources of another. 

    In a world without fax machines, cell phones, or pagers, a wealthy man had no choice but to entrust his holdings to his steward while he was away from his estate.

    In the parable from Matthew, Jesus teaches that all of us are stewards entrusted by God with vast wealth. Even the steward who received just one talent was given a fortune worth the equivalent of thirty-five years of daily wages.

    But exercising our stewardship is often intimidating. Whenever we use our gifts, we risk what we think might be failure. It’s tempting to think that if God is really so powerful, God hardly needs our meager efforts to multiply his wealth!

    Each of us faces the temptation of compromising our calling. Is it really so evil to do nothing with the resources God has left in our keeping? Jesus’ parable answers this question with a resounding yes! As the master illustrates, God treats us severely when we offer excuses to justify our reluctance to be stewards.

    It’s good to know that another option is open to us. We can seize our role as stewards with the eagerness of the first two stewards in the parable. Both of these faithful stewards multiply the master’s resources. And both receive the same reward at their master’s return: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21).

    At the end of time, will we hear those same words from our Lord?

    Source: “The Joy of Generosity" devotional series developed by Barnabas Foundation and available at; adapted from the HomeLink series written by Pastor Bob Heerspink and released by Faith Alive Christian Resources (

    “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” -Matthew 25:23

    A few years ago, a biographer researched the life of the Duke of Wellington. He had no difficulty tracing the major events of his life, but pushing beyond public knowledge to an understanding of the private side of the Duke remained difficult. Then this researcher came across a box of his financial records. When the researcher learned what the Duke had done with his money, he finally discovered the Duke’s deepest values and most important priorities.

  • Seven Habits Of A Highly Effective Steward

    Habit 1:  Be Thankful

    “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”  (I Thess. 5:18)  Talk about an attitude of gratitude!  What does giving thanks in “everything” mean for daily living?  Do we thank God for the blessings of life—the big things and the small things, the obvious and the not so obvious? 

    Food and shelter are basic necessities.  Family and friends provide meaning and fellowship.  Good health is important to our general well being. Though we enjoy these gifts each day, it is easy to take them for granted and not express our appreciation. 

    What about your job?  Do we view it as our vocation?  The word “vocation” literally means “calling”.  We usually think of a calling as being related to some kind of ministry.  But God calls and equips all of us so that, by the quality of our work in our vocation He is honored and we reflect His image…no matter what our “work” is.   Col. 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men….  You are serving the Lord Christ.”  If we could see Jesus Christ as our boss, would it change our attitude about our job?

    Let’s face it: some of us have a kind of love/hate relationship with work.  We spend roughly a third of our adult lives making a living and what is our attitude about that?  Work is not just a means to a paycheck.  It is a gift from God to help develop character.  It is an opportunity to be a Christ-like example to those with whom we work.  It motivates us to be productive and to achieve a sense of accomplishment and value.   As Christians we can say, “All this, and a paycheck too”!

    A steward’s heart is a thankful heart.  Someone has said it well:  “Thanksgiving, to be truly thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving.”  You can give without being thankful, but you cannot be thankful without giving.  When you give, you not only are acknowledging that everything you have is a gift from God, but you are expressing your gratitude to Him.

    Habit 2:  Trust God to Provide

    Trust is a foundational concept for practicing stewardship.  This may be one of the most difficult habits of all to develop.  For many of us, it’s easier to trust God for our eternal salvation than it is to trust him for our daily living.  When it comes to practical things like putting food on our table or making the mortgage payment, we operate as if we are on our own.  As a result we often worry and experience anxiety.

    Fear is the result of our inability to trust God in all aspects of our lives.  This actually causes some of us to stockpile assets beyond all reason.  Others worry about every possibility of loss, including health issues, layoffs and economic collapse.  There’s a big difference between constructive planning – and destructive worry.  There is no reason for us to be bound by fear.  We need to put our trust in God and to commit both our faith and our finances to Him.

    “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not. . .to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).  Even though our culture tempts us to believe that accumulation brings happiness, as Christians we need to focus on trusting God.  He has much to give us of far greater value than anything we can ever purchase or accumulate.

    Trusting God to provide also means operating on His timetable and not our own.   This is extremely difficult in many situations.  We tend to want our needs met immediately.  If this were always the case, there would be no opportunity for us to strengthen our faith – to believe and trust that our needs will be met according to God’s plan.  These opportunities help to teach us patience and reliance on God.

    Habit 3:  Be Content

    We live in a world of obsession with material possessions.  Far too many of us find ourselves in debt because we’ve been swept up in the frenzy of accumulation.  In our consumerist society, it is difficult to distinguish between our needs and our wants and desires.  We often believe that the more money have, the happier we will be. 

    There’s an interesting paradox when we finally recognize that nothing we have really belongs to us.  Even though we have many things, none of them actually belongs to us.  As we come to understand that everything belongs to God, our perspective changes…we become more content.

    “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, …”  (Hebrews 13:5)  A Christian steward is content because he knows that God will give him everything he needs.  In speaking at a regional conference, Ted Boers, Chair of a stewardship task force, indicated he had just read a book by a secular author entitled, Want What You Have.  Ted commented, “This was the secular author’s secret to happiness, but what a great way of restating the truth of Hebrews 13:5 … want what you have!”

    We wrestle with the question, “How much is enough?” most of our lives.  What is the limit?  As Christians, we need to actively seek God’s guidance to help us continually differentiate between our real needs, and our wants and desires.  

    Accept God’s provision in your life, and find contentment in the source, not the supply.  (I Timothy 6: 6-8).

    Habit 4: Be a Faithful Example

    “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6: 6,7)  If we are to be good models for our children, we as parents must have God’s Word reflected in our own lives.  Secondly, we need to be alert to the countless opportunities given us to teach our children a godly perspective on life, abilities, and possessions.

    Modeling good stewardship is the best teaching tool.  Parents who tithe, save, live on a budget, minimize debt and give of their abilities and time to help others set an excellent example for their children.

    Start early.  When children are old enough to receive an allowance, talk about their responsibility to give the first part back to God.  Talk openly about tithing, why we do it and the good things that happen because we give. By the time kids are in high school or even middle school it is almost too late to begin teaching.  By that time, their money habits are mostly set.  While there is still opportunity at any age to teach them, we can better mold our children’s behavior if we reach them before they start to practice. 

    Look for ways to involve children in giving activities.  Invite them to participate in the discussion of where to give and why.  Talk about how good it feels to give to others.  Explain how giving is really receiving and allow them the opportunity to experience that joy.   

    Instilling a strong work ethic in our children is invaluable.  Money doesn’t just magically appear out of a bank machine, but is earned through work.  Remember, a child cannot learn money management unless he has money to manage, and unless he has earned that money himself. Otherwise he is giving and spending his parents’ money and not his. (Dynamic Steward, July 2003)

    Working for something also teaches the value of delayed gratification.  There is greater reward in something that is achieved versus free handouts.  Our children will grow up with more respect for the value of money and what is required to earn it. Over indulgence by parents destroys the need for initiative and motivation. 

    As parents, we need to be patient and persistent.  Let them fail.  Mistakes are inevitable, but when you allow for failure you are entrusting your kids with responsibility.

    When we think of gifts, we usually think of material things. Yet, the greatest gift we can give is the gift of self.  Don’t forget to focus on time and abilities.  We are all uniquely made and have much to share with others—our experiences, our interests and our natural abilities. 

    Family activities can include giving our time to share ourselves with others.  Being particularly aware of what gifts our children possess will not only encourage their character by helping them discover the joy of their hidden talents, but will also provide a foundation for a servant’s heart.

    As Randy Alcorn has said, “When it comes to handling possessions in light of eternity, the most important point is this:  sometimes our children will fail to listen to us; rarely will they fail to imitate us."

    Habit 5: Live Within Your Means

    What do you think when you read, “Live within your means?”  Do you think, “Who me? ... Yet often you find yourself wishing you had more money? Perhaps you have too much “month” at the end of the “money” because of a lifestyle you’ve created that is hard to maintain. Many times this may happen when we try to keep up with others and don’t live within our means.

    Discontent and financial difficulty can happen when we compare ourselves to those who have more.  Some use comparison to justify spending more than they should…”keeping up with the Joneses.” As Howard Dayton said in his book, Dollars and Sense, “someone once said that you can never keep up with the Joneses.  Just about the time you catch them, they refinance their home and go deeper in debt to buy more things!”

    We certainly live in a society of acquisition. Advertising is geared to encourage us to desire a better lifestyle and to aspire to a higher standard of living. According to society, we should acquire as many expensive possessions as possible because these things are evidence of a successful, important person. When we want to live this counterfeit, media-induced dream but cannot afford it, we suffer discontentment, envy and coveting.  And, most importantly, it prevents us from giving freely and sacrificially back to God.

    As God’s stewards, our fundamental lifestyle choice is to concentrate on what we have instead of what we lack.  Debt is a terrible trap in which to fall and an even harder one to escape. It’s not surprising that the Bible discourages borrowing.  In Prov. 22:7 we read, " ... the borrower is servant to the lender”. Yet, despite these warnings, it’s easy to fall into the temptation of debt.  As George Fooshee, author of You Can Beat the Money Squeeze aptly states, “People buy things they do not need with money they do not have to impress people they do not even like.”

    Scripture contains a number of challenging principles that we should consider when choosing a lifestyle. As Paul indicates: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:12-13

    Income alone should never determine our lifestyle, even if we have plenty of money to live the way we wish. The choices we make will depend not only on how much we make and what needs our family has, but also on the way we view the world and our responsibility as God’s stewards. God’s ownership, the gifts God has given us, the opportunities we have to develop our gifts are crucial in helping us to decide how to live.

    When we as Christian stewards choose a lifestyle, we must come to terms with some basic questions: (Firstfruits: Managing the Master’s Money by Lillian Grissen)

    -     How many luxuries can we enjoy without endangering our spiritual health?

    -     How many wants can we indulge in when there are so many in need?

    -     In a world of limited resources, how many resources may we expend simply for personal pleasure?

    Possessions require time, attention and often money to maintain and can then take away from our relationship with God and others because of the time and energy they consume.  We need to prayerfully consider our lifestyle and spending habits and how that affects our stewardship responsibility.  Is our lifestyle enhancing or sacrificing our giving? 

    Habit 6:  Give Time and Talent

    What can we do with the life that God has given us?  Since everything we have really belongs to God, we are simply using for God what God has entrusted to us.  This includes our intellect, beauty, skills, energy, time and imagination.

    Each one of us is uniquely gifted.  God has a purpose and plan for each of us that no one else can fulfill.  We possess our own unique temperaments, passions, skills and experiences to be used for God’s purpose.  

    “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10 (NIV)

    As Christian stewards—managers of the gifts God has given us—we are called to reflect God’s love in our community. We are called to love as Jesus loved, to serve as Jesus served.  This means we have a responsibility to reflect God’s love in our homes and offices, city streets and neighborhoods — in everything we say and do.  In a world weakened by a lack of love, we are called to offer loving service to others.

    One of the greatest gifts we can give is the gift of self.  Any day is a good day to offer the gift of self to build up the Kingdom of God in our families, communities and church. 

    What will be the fruit of a truly Christian stewardship of time and talent?  First, we will multiply ourselves in His service.  Second, we will advance the work of the kingdom.  Third, we will bring glory to God, and this is the reason we are here.

    Habit 7:  Give Treasure

    When we submit our hearts to Jesus Christ, we are to heed the instruction of Prov. 3:9,  Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.  We are to give God the first part of all we earn, not the leftovers.  This area of generosity is a test of our loyalty to Christ.  Do we really love God more than money?  When we give, we are demonstrating the depth of our understanding of the grace of God.

    Everything we have is a gift from God. If we are grateful Christians, we will be giving Christians. You can give without being thankful, but you cannot be thankful without giving. 

    The polling data has been clear. Gallup and Barna have tracked giving as it relates to income. The more money Christians make, the less likely they are to tithe: 8% of those making less than $20,000 a year tithe, while 4% of those making $40,000-$59,999 tithe, and only 1% of those making $75,000-$99,999 tithe (Barna Research Group,Ventura, CA 1999).

    We have the ability as our income goes up to be financially involved in greater ministries. God is not against prosperity, but He is for the advancement of His Kingdom.  Are we consciously and prayerfully making wise spending decisions so our income will positively affect the Lord’s work?

    Our relationship with God is influenced in great part by our attitudes and by our actions. Our giving is an outward expression of a deep spiritual commitment and is an indication of a willing and grateful heart.

    Much has been written about the habits it takes to be a highly effective person, or a highly effective family or a highly effective teen.  This seven-part series will reflect on the habits of a highly effective steward.

    Since stewardship is a part of discipleship, and discipleship is a journey for each of us, we hope that these habits will help us reflect on this area of our Christian life.

  • Seven Marks of a Steward Leader

    In this webinar, Dr. R. Scott Rodin details the challenges we all face on the journey of becoming more faithful “steward leaders.”

  • Stewardship Basics Series - Part 1

    Webinar (For Churches)

    In this webinar, Rick Droog and Rodger Rice, Stewardship Consultants with Barnabas Foundation discuss the five keys to a more generous church. How do you spread a vision for biblical stewardship in an uncertain economy?

    View this webinar and you’ll learn:

    • Updates on the current stewardship landscape and how it impacts your church
    • How to spread an inspiring vision (and do more with less!)
    • Proven approaches for building leadership support
    • How to engage hearts (not just wallets) with a stewardship team
    • Practical tools and next steps to get started

  • Stewardship Basics Series - Part 2

    This webinar discusses Stories From Churches Like Yours with Mike Koetje and Lyle Ahrenholz.

  • Stewardship Basics Series - Part 3

    Webinar (For Churches)

    In this webinar, Karen Layland and Laura DeVries discuss nurturing stewardship as a core value.


    • How to make stewardship part of your Church’s DNA
    • Practical resources you can use today to grow generosity in your church
    • How every ministry in your church can reflect stewardship as a core value
    • And much more!