Augsburg Fortress

Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregations

Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your CongregationsAsk, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregations

The goal of this book, says author Charles Lane, is to perform a dramatic rescue of stewardship, freeing it from any connection whatsoever to "paying the bills." When the Bible talks about stewardship it almost always talks about the intimate connection between how a person handles financial matters and that person's relationship with God. Stewardship is an intensely spiritual matter that lies close to a disciple's relationship with Jesus.

The book is designed especially for use in congregational planning and study. Congregational stewardship leaders will come back to three foundational verbs — ask, thank, tell — over and over as they help individuals experience the joy of giving generously. The author makes the convincing case that there is little in life today that can help a disciple grow in relationship with Jesus more than a solid intentional biblical stewardship.

  • In stock
  • Format Paperback
  • Height 8.5
  • ISBN 9780806652634
  • Publisher Augsburg Fortress
  • Pages 128
  • Width 5.5
  • Publication Date Jan 19, 2006

Discussion Guide

Chapter 1 – Discipleship, Not Membership
Think about the language used in your congregation.
Discuss times when your congregation has used "membership" language.
Discuss times when your congregation has used "discipleship" language.
Develop an "action plan" to use "discipleship" language more often.
How does your congregation talk about or demonstrate the need of the giver to give, rather than the need of the congregation to receive?
Develop an "action plan" to focus your stewardship ministry on the need of the giver to give, rather than the need of the congregation to receive.

Chapter 2 – It All Belongs to God
Our society tells us that what we have belongs to us, to use as we wish. The Bible tells us that everything belongs to God, and we are the stewards, or managers, of that which God has entrusted to us. How does this distinction change your understanding of giving? How might it change your congregation's understanding of giving?

Chapter 3 – Money and Possessions in the New Testament
How have money and possessions posed a threat to your relationship with Jesus? Be specific.
Do you understand it to be your duty to provide for those who have less money and possessions than you do? If so, what are some specific ways this duty plays out in your life? If not, with what word would you like to replace the word "duty"?

Chapter 4 – Portrait of a Biblical Giver
Write the six Biblical stewardship values across the top of a page.
Make a list of specific ways your congregation has encouraged each value in the past year.
Make a list of ways your congregation will encourage each value in the coming year.
In your own life, how has money led your heart to Jesus?

Chapter 5 – Practicing Biblical Stewardship
How is money talked about in your congregation?
In your congregation:
How has the pastor been encouraged to stay out of stewardship ministry?
How has the pastor been encouraged to provide leadership in stewardship
Has the pastor wanted to take a leadership role in stewardship ministry?

Chapter 6 – Ask: The Annual Response Program
Review the annual response programs you have used over the past five years.
Make a chart with five columns that lists:
The method you have used to ask (see pages 76–80)
When you started the planning process each year
How follow-up was conducted
How you did at paying attention to the basics (pages 68–72)
As you review this chart:
Do you see any patterns?
What have you done well?
What could you have done better?
(Save this chart for use with Chapter 8)

Chapter 7 – Ask: Making the Pie Larger
Make another chart for the past five years. For each year, list all the ways congregation members have been invited to give in addition to their regular support of the congregation's ministry
Were new opportunities provided through the years, or are you "in a rut"?
Brainstorm new possibilities for asking members to give to ministries beyond the congregation.
Do you really believe that "Giving begets giving" (p. 93), or are you worried that asking members to give beyond the congregation will negatively impact giving to the congregation?

Chapter 8 – Improving How You Ask
Look again at the chart you created for Chapter 6.
Evaluate your last five annual response programs based on the "Effective Ways to Ask" (pages 95–96) and the "Motivations for Giving" (pages 97–98).
Have you used varied methods?
Have you used more effective ways to ask and tapped into the stronger motivations for giving?

Chapter 9 – Thank
How do you currently thank members of the congregation for their giving and for their involvement in the life of the congregation?
Review "Creating a Culture of Thanksgiving" (pages 104–108) and "Some Great Opportunities to Say Thanks" (pages 108–110), On the basis of these sections, decide on three things you will do to improve how you thank.

Chapter 10 – Tell
Evaluate how you currently tell your congregation's mission story based on this chapter.
What media are you currently using?
Choose one medium you aren't currently using and make plans to start telling your mission story in a new way.
Talk with members of the church staff about information from other ministries that is received by the congregation. Make a plan that includes the stewardship team in those who see this material.

Chapter 11 – Organizing for Your Stewardship Ministry
Identify people with the appropriate gifts to serve on each of the three work groups. Ask them to serve, stressing that their gifts are needed.
Get the right people on each work group, give each person a copy of "Ask, thank, Tell", quit having monthly stewardship committee meetings, pray for the power of God's Spirit, and watch stewards grow like the grass after a summer rain.


Ask, Thank, Tell is a straightforward, easy-to-read stewardship guide that ought to be placed in the hands of every seminarian, pastor, and congregation leader. Lane gives biblically grounded practical advice that, if followed, would transform the church. The emphasis is on mission, not maintenance; discipleship, not membership and the giver's need to give, not the church's need to receive. The author advocates a biblically based primary relationship with Jesus Christ that includes open, basic, plain, and ongoing talk about money."
– Jerry Hoffman, coordinator for "Stewardship in the 21st Century," A Luther Seminary Web-based Ministry

"'Seize every opportunity to tell your story,' says author Charles Lane, as he encourages stewardship leaders to give many compelling ideas for helping people to grow in their relationship with Jesus through joyful stewardship. This book is especially useful for those who want guidelines for planning stewardship in their own context. Of special note is the warning in chapter 8: 'It is easy to start thinking about what will work best for the [stewardship] leadership team. Resist this temptation. Focus instead on what will work best for the givers.' The section on Creating a Culture of Thanksgiving is worth the price of the book."
– Ed Kruse, ELCA Director for Stewardship

"In this helpful new book, Ask, Thank, Tell, Charles Lane puts the center of stewardship ministry where it needs to be – on Jesus. Using the Bible as his foundation, Lane offers practical, easy-to-follow steps for congregational leaders who want to strengthen their church’s stewardship ministry. I'll certainly be recommending this book to the congregations and leaders I coach."
– Rochelle Melander, author of Our Lives Are Not Our Own: Saying Yes to God