When Nintendo came out with the Power Glove, I was eight years old. Never had I seen anything so glorious in my short life. When it premiered in the movie The Wizard starring Fred Savage, I could not think of anything greater, more fun, or useful in my youthful estimation.
But after a few months, only a few people I knew had one. It mostly became something cool to look at and try on, but it was not very playable, and it was not a group game. Due to these major flaws, it was only produced for one year. From time to time, I look on eBay and consider buying a used one for decoration in the man cave. But that is all it is worth, decoration.
You do not need another thing to sit on your shelf.
The goal of a new stewardship series entitled A God-Lived Life is high usability, not shelf-sitting. It is designed to help present Christ-centered, gospel-motivated stewardship of a Christian’s use of God’s truth, a Christian’s use of the beautiful fellowship we share, a Christian’s use of their gifts to serve their community and be a light, and a Christian’s use of the treasures God has poured in their laps. You can use the whole thing hook, line, and sinker, or you can take bits and pieces and plug them in where you think they will have the highest impact and visibility.
The basic premise was not just to hammer out a Stewardship Sunday for a Sunday a year, but to cover a third of the church year with four, focused Sundays—one per month for four months—with supporting materials for each week of the module’s month. Each of the four modules has a full hour Bible study as well as a separate 19-minute Bible study with accompanying leader guides. There is a full sermon as well as text study notes which you can use as like one of our Synod’s Lenten series, or tweak to make it your own. There are ready-made service plans, gathering rites, prayers, and hymn suggestions. Weekly devotions and challenges will help your leaders and members go from the general to the specific to your setting.
A God-Lived Life was field-tested last year during the Pentecost Season. Our congregation is looking to use the series this fall over August, September, October, and November, though you could use it every other month or every third month.
Incorporating this series with four big Sundays and all the weeks in between gives us the sense that the Christian’s God-lived life is important because Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived his life for us, died for us and rose again. This is our life! Stewardship is what we do as forgiven and freed children of God. It is every day of our lives. “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
To make the most use out of this program, consider a schedule like this:
June – At your church council or leadership team meeting, present the packet to your council and walk through the four modules and their emphases. Send them home with a few things to consider and ask them to come up with some appropriate challenges that they think would be good for their members for each module—discipleship, community service and outreach, fellowship, and financial stewardship. These challenges could go from the short and simple to the long-term.
July – At your council or leadership team meeting, review their ideas and compile them. Decide which ones best reflect you’re your people and your ministry. Discuss what format would work best to engage the congregation members. Continue a review of all the resources. Ask yourself—what might work in our individual setting and our methods of communication? Pass the challenges and modules down to your boards or service groups for feedback. Build excitement for the upcoming modules! Promote the series in your July newsletter. Utilize the promotional resources. Get ready to launch in August.
August – A God-Lived Life: A Life of Discipleship
Pick a Sunday that would hit many of your members because the discipleship challenge impacts all family members. For members who are NOT in attendance, instructions are included in the resources to create a simple, online challenge card. A link can then be sent to encourage all your members to participate. If you use the first Sunday, you can follow up with a weekly communique/newsletter that includes devotions, a sample of the month’s congregational challenge and an update on some members (adult, children, etc.) who are serving in creative ways. Share how many have filled out challenge cards and rejoice over little victories—more people attending a Bible class or getting into God’s Word. You can launch the initial Bible study on the first week and then use the 19-minute the second week and give an update on how the challenges are going.
September – A God Lived Life: A Life Lived for Others
September Sundays have been called “Back to School” or “Get Back to Church” month. Even as you encourage continued discipleship from the previous weeks, this is a great month to use the second module. Even as we engage in service to our community as individuals, we can also do it together as a church. A food drive, an outreach event, all these things could be incorporated into this month’s challenges.
October – A God-Lived Life: A Life of Hospitality
Many people crave the blessing of friendship and acceptance. This is truly found in Jesus’s love for us and in the body of Christ. Helping your congregation form bonds within the fellowship during the month of October may result in God’s blessings of new friendships based on the brotherhood and sisterhood of Christ, formation of groups of believers gathering for fellowship and God’s Word whether in church or at home. There could be many simple and far-reaching challenges incorporated in this module.
November – A God-Lived Life: A Life Lived Shrewdly
You can guess what the sermon text is for this month. How do we manage the resources God has given us? This might be a great time to offer a personal, practical finance/budget assistance course, invite a WELS Christian giving counselor to present a smart Christian giving or will planning seminar on a Sunday in this month, launch a capital project campaign, promote Equipping Christian Witnesses, or a ministry encouragement fund.
We pray you will find A God-Lived Life resources more versatile than the Power Glove was and designed not just for select players, but for everyone to be included and in service together—from the church council to the kindergartner! If you find some things that work well in your congregational setting, please give us feedback as you implement different portions of the series (firstname.lastname@example.org). God bless you and may Christ be glorified, and his people edified. Enjoy!
Rev. Nate Scharf
St. Paul, New Ulm, MN
You can make a difference. Your prayers and gifts can help WELS ministries carry out their missions.