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State stewardship leaders hear LifeWay progress report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Only three years after receiving the assignment for stewardship education and capital fund-raising from the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay Christian Resources is making significant strides in fulfilling that task, said Gary Aylor, LifeWay’s program director for church stewardship services.
LifeWay, then known as the Sunday School Board, received its assignment in June 1996, and in December 1996, Aylor, who had been associate pastor of administration and evangelism at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, began his new work at LifeWay.
State leaders, in their annual planning meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 20, heard a review of actions taken and resources produced since early 1997.
Among the latest strategic events was the April 1999 formation of a church resources division stewardship task force, established to coordinate stewardship messages throughout LifeWay Church Resources. Representatives on that group include Aylor; Roy Edgemon, director of the discipleship and family group; Bill Taylor, director of the Sunday school group; Mike Miller, director of the church leadership group; and Roland Maddox, associate to the vice president of church resources. They have made plans, coordinated contacts within each group and committed resources to including stewardship education in a variety of resources.
While communicating the story of stewardship and capital fund-raising with the help of monthly and quarterly curriculum resources, LifeWay Christian Stores, Broadman & Holman Publishers, a variety of LifeWay-sponsored conferences and communications vehicles, such as LifeWay’s Facts & Trends newsletter, other SBC entities have partnered with stewardship services.
Among other actions, Aylor has led a staff of seven to:
— revamp “Together We Build,” Southern Baptists’ capital fund-raising program for churches. In the future is a new approach for smaller churches and a TWB Internet site.
— spearhead promotion of Successful Christian Financial Management seminars, offered thus far in 400 churches, with 290 trained counselors in 38 states. More than 40,000 workbooks have been distributed to individuals and families.
— produce and promote print resources including: “How Much Is Enough?” a study in lifestyle stewardship; “The Financially Confident Woman;” “The ABC’s of Church Budgeting, Promotion and Stewardship Education;” “Managing Your Church’s Finances … Made Easy;” “Lifestyle Stewardship Dramas;” “The Christian Will: A Legacy of Faith and Love;” and a revision of a selection of tracts on stewardship. In October 2000, a three-part series, “Jesus on Money,” will provide intensive study on specific life stages, rather than focusing on age groups.
— provide resources on-line. This fall, stewardship information, including downloadable articles, may be accessed through LifeWay’s website, www.lifeway.com and selecting “Stewardship.”
— offer training events to churches and individuals. Beginning with no events in 1997, the staff has offered more than 200 days of training in the past year.
— offer training for volunteer personal financial counselors. The first event, Sept. 20-22, “sold out” with 87 participants. A second session is planned in Little Rock, Ark., April 27-29, 2000. Other sessions in Nashville will be announced for 2000. The course, which requires 50-60 hours of self-study before the event, is expected to provide volunteer financial counselors in churches and associations across the SBC.
Walter Jackson, pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, told leaders in a luncheon address that stewardship is about time, talents and offerings.
“Stewardship is basically saying, ‘Here’s God’s Book, your checkbook and your calendar. Let’s prioritize what is important,” he said.
Observing that society is full of “debt-o-holics,” Jackson said while God owns 100 percent of what people have, churches need to have a year-long emphasis on managing the remaining 90 percent after a tithe is given.
“I am convinced that giving is one of the key elements in our relationship with God,” James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay, added. He said LifeWay has invested more than $1 million in stewardship education initiatives during the past three years.
“We want to see lives changed, churches be successful and to build relationships,” he concluded.

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  • Charles Willis