Stewardship Book Review: Good Stewardship, Greater Generosity

Clayton L. Smith, Propel: Good Stewardship, Greater Generosity (Nashville: Abingdon
Press, 2015).

In this new resource, Clayton Smith (Executive Pastor of Generosity at (UMC) Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS lays out an overview of congregational stewardship, with each chapter comprised of stewardship “bullet points” on which the author elaborates and to which steward leaders would be well advised to attend. The book is broken up into three sections: (1) Leadership, Vision, and Community; (2) Insights for Preaching and Worship; (3) Six Giving Models to Propel Generosity. While fairly solid theology underpins the suggested strategies, it should be noted that this book focuses on concrete approaches rather than theoretical ideas. While the work clearly takes its shape within the context of megachurch theology and culture (not to mention sheer membership numbers and leadership structures), most of its underlying principles can be adapted for use in congregations of all sizes. The same goes for its specifically Methodist, though adaptable denominationally specific expression. The second chapter on “Casting a Vision for Stewardship and Generosity” is particularly good at giving voice to general principles that drive healthy stewardship, and the book’s final third provides a detailed review of effective ways to organize specific areas of stewardship ministry in the congregational setting (e.g., annual giving campaigns, memorial giving, planned legacy giving). Readers will likely find the online resources that accompany the book (via a website accessed using a password found in the book) helpful in implementing the useful strategies they will likely find inside.

– Rev. Rich Sheridan, Synod Evangelist, Nebraska Synod