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These discussion starters can be preceding or following parish or small group events…committee meetings, women’s or men’s groups, Bible Study groups, parish council etc.

Attitudes Toward Money

(30-40 minutes)

Purpose

To help people become aware of the ways that their earlier attitudes toward money still affect their present attitudes and practices.

Method

Divide the group into pairs.

Each one of the duo reflects on the question: What is your earliest recollection of an attitude toward money?  How was money treated in your household when you were young?…was it revered, ignored, talked about all the time, an off-limit topic?

In the larger group, ask people to share what they want, what surprised them, from the earlier discussions and what implications they believe those attitudes have for their current practice.

Images of Stewardship

(20-30 minutes)

Purpose

To help people be aware of the various ideas on stewardship that are held by themselves and others.

Method

List on newsprint, in words and short phrases, without comment or discussion, the images that occur to people when they hear the word “stewardship”.

Discuss the similarities and differences.  Some may be able to share the background that produced such an image.

The Use of Time and Money

(20-30 minutes)

Purpose

To help people become aware that their use of time reflects their values and beliefs.

Method

In advance, ask people to bring their calendars and their check books and a copy of their recent credit card bill. Tell them this is confidential only to them.

Ask them to look at the present week and next week in their calendars.  Launch a discussion about what values and beliefs their activities reflect.

Ask them to look closely at what they have spent and on what.

Ask then what was their biggest surprise.

Launch a discussion about what values and beliefs their spending reflects.  Remind them to reveal only what they wish.

What Do We Want To Do?

(30-40 minutes)

Purpose

To help people become aware of some personal desires and a way of evaluating them.  This process will help influence their actions as stewards in the world.

Method

Each member of the group is asked to write down 20 things they would like to do in their life.  When the lists are completed, they code the activities in the following manner (put this code on a flip chart paper that is hung after their 20 things have been written down.)

$= any item that requires more than $20

A= I would like to do this alone.

P= I would like to do this with others.

F= Family activity.

PL= This requires planning.

NW= This item would not have been listed 3 years ago.

R= This requires risk.

S= This requires sacrifice.

MT= This requires more time in the coming year.

OB= There are obstacles in the way of doing this.

Then, ask people to write down after each item the name of the person they would like to talk to about this priority.

In the group discussion, focus on:

  • what I learned,
  • what surprised me, and
  • what disappointed me.

(Note:  an adapted version of this exercise could be used to get a congregational meeting to start to identify priorities.)

What Are We Singing About?

(20-30 minutes)

Purpose

To help people become aware of the attitudes expressed in some of the hymns we sing, and to examine our own attitudes compared to those expressed in hymns.

Method

Have a hymn sing for about 10 minutes of full hymns or verses that express some attitudes about stewardship.  Examples:  last verse of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Take My Life. Check out the hymns in Common Praise under the heading of Stewardship for more.

After the hymn sing, ask the members what these hymns are saying to them and whether they can agree with their intent.  Discuss the obstacles to fully living out those hymns.  Discuss what would make living out the hymns more possible.

Epitaphs

(30-40 minutes)

Purpose

To help people see the meaning of their life and the significance of their activity in the church and in the world.

Method

People are asked to think up their epitaph for their gravestone that could sum up the significance of their life.  Or you could suggest they write their own obituary, if there is more time.

Share in the larger group (those who wish to).

Discuss:

  • Why people chose the epitaphs they did;
  • What insights people got from the others in the group;
  • Surprises people had in doing this.

Closing questions:

  • What do you expect from the church and your faith in helping you discover meaning in your life and give significance to your activity in the church and in the world?
  • What relationship is there between how well the church helps us in these areas and our willingness to support the church financially?