Ask, Thank, Tell – Charles Lane

Charles R. Lane, Augsburg Fortress, 2006

Roger McKinneyAsk, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregation, is authored by Charles R. Lane, Director of Stewardship Key Leaders for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is a very practical book that is designed to be an introduction to Christian stewardship principles for individuals and committees of congregations tasked with teaching stewardship and raising operating funds for ministry.

The book is organized into two sections of material. The first covers the biblical and theological underpinnings of stewardship in direct, easy-to-read terms and chapters. No deep theological language here! The five chapter titles are:

  1. Discipleship, Not Membership
  2. It All Belongs to God
  3. Money and Possessions in the New Testament
  4. Portrait of a Biblical Giver
  5. Practicing Biblical Stewardship

Lane begins the first chapter by offering a mission statement for a congregation’s stewardship ministry: The goal of our stewardship ministry is to help God’s people grow in their relationship
with Jesus through the use of the time, talents and finances God has entrusted to them. (p. 11)
This is his theme through every chapter of the book. In each chapter he returns to this idea that stewardship is not about raising money to pay the church’s bills, but is about helping people grow in their relationship with God.

Lane suggests in these opening chapters that the Church must be focused not on creating members who will sustain an institution, but on growing disciples of Jesus. He believes that teaching stewardship as Jesus taught stewardship is a vital part of this mission.

After offering practical suggestions on the Church’s mission and how to organize for that mission, Lane turns to practical matters on how to organize a stewardship committee, teach stewardship principles year-round, run an annual stewardship campaign and help people grow as disciples of Jesus through the process. These practical chapters are titled:

  1. Ask: The Annual Response Program
  2. Ask: Making the Pie Lager
  3. Improving How You Ask
  4. Thank
  5. Tell
  6. Organizing Your Stewardship Ministry

In these chapters Lane describes in detail a variety of approaches to annual fundraising by committees in congregations. He never strays, however, from the principle that stewardship is not about raising money to pay the bills, but about helping people grow in discipleship to Jesus. He focuses on the organizing idea that a congregation must “ASK” in appropriate, effective ways. It must “THANK” immediately and effectively after receiving all gift. And, it must regularly and effectively “TELL” the story of what the gifts of people do to grow disciples of Jesus and serve God.

This book is simple and practical in approach. A summary of ideas is offered at the end of each chapter. It is intended simply to sharpen the stewardship concepts and practices of congregations. For some it will be review and quite possibly an oversimplification of stewardship principles. For those who have not heard these ideas before it will be fresh and practical.

I imagine that most church stewardship teams could benefit from reading part or all of this book and would encourage its use as a refresher about the purpose of teaching Christian stewardship.

Reviewed by Roger McKinney
Minister of Hiram Christian Church, Hiram OH