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The Grapevine
News from the LCMS New Jersey District

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In This Issue
To Shred or Not to Shred: An Editorial
Aiming at the Wrong Target?
Living Abundantly
Consecrated Stewards
The Value of Life
Spiritual Gifts Checklist
Spoon or Scoop?
Be Happy
Getting Deeper
To Shred or Not to Shred:  An Editorial

By David Hildebrandt

David Hildebrandt


I spent the last week with my elderly mother, who lives alone after my father passed away over four years ago.  I try to visit her in the Chicago area at least twice a year to help with the never ending list of maintenance items that one accumulates with owning a home.  This visit was no exception!


Although we welcomed in the first day of Summer, we still needed to deal with the much needed yard "spring" cleaning:  grass thatching, trees, bushes, and vine trimming, weed control, and attention to flower gardens and for those who have experienced this annual ritual and for those who have not, it was A LOT of work.   I could show you the blisters, scratches and nicks as proof.


But for my mother, the hardest task she had to face was "decades" of saved records, files, paid bills, tax returns, medical receipts, etc.  I was pre-warned of this job when she asked me to bring my paper shredder.  UGGGGGH!  For some reason people, myself included, have a difficult time in deciding what papers are important, what should be saved and for how long.  We seem to morph into the proverbial "pack rat" don't we?


So here we are looking at the question, "To Shred or Not to Shred?" 


Believe it or not, this is a Stewardship question.  It isn't one of the obvious Seven T's of Stewardship (Time, Talent, Treasure, Testimony, Touch, Tissue, Trash) but it is part of how we "manage all of life" our Whole Life commitment found in the Stewardship definition; "The free and joyous activity of the child of God and God's family the church in managing all of life and life's resources for God's purposes."


When my mother looked at the pile we had created, she started to breath heavy as if to say, "This mountain is too high to climb."  Of course, the simple answer is to start, as with any journey, with the first step and precede one step at a time---- or in this instance with one type of document at a time.


Do you need help addressing the "decades" of saved documents you have hidden in file cabinets and boxes in the basement, garage and attic?   

Besides bringing my shredder, I brought an article that was published in the Business Section of the Star Ledger newspaper that I have been using for my records and which we found very helpful attacking the mountain.  Maybe it will be of help to you also!   


(The Star Ledger - Thursday, February 16. 2006 - By Teresa Dixon Murray - Newhouse News Service)


-----Type of Document-----


Copies of Tax Returns----Forever


Papers used to prepare tax returns (this includes cancelled checks, mortgage interest, investment information, etc.)-----7 years


IRA contribution records-----Forever


Retirement account statements (keep quarterly statements until you get your annual statement.  Once you determine that's accurate, discard the quarterly statements.  Keep annual statements until you retire or close the account)-----1 year to Forever


Investment transactions/statements (keep information used to prepare tax returns for seven years.  Keep annual statements forever)-----7 years to Forever


Bank Records (Keep ATM and teller receipts until you get your monthly statement.  Keep monthly statements as long as you think you might need to look up a past payment or transaction)-----1 month to several years


Cancelled Checks or Copies (Cancelled checks, or more likely the photocopies you get, don't need to be kept for too long after you have balanced your check book for the month.  If it's a copy, you can get another from your bank if you need it.  Exceptions are checks related to tax deductions, business expenses, mortgage records, etc., which should be kept as long as you keep your tax records, and anything you think might need for proof of payment)-----1 month to 7 years


Brokerage Statements (keep statements for as long as you hold on to the investments they list)-----7 years or more


Bills (Many bills can be discarded as soon as they are paid.  Bills for large purchases, such as furniture, should be kept for insurance purposes.  Bills for home improvements should be kept long-term to help calculate your cost basis for tax purposes)-----1 month to Forever


Store Receipts (Immediately discard receipts you won't possibly need for a return.  Most stores have return policies of 60 to 90 days.  For items under warranty, keep receipts for as long as the warranty lasts)-----60 days or longer


Credit Card Receipts/Sales Slips (Keep receipts until you get your account statement.  Check for any discrepancies, then discard receipts you are sure you won't need for return or other purposes)-----45 days or longer


Credit Card Statements (Discrepancies can be disputed for 60 days.  People who have same-as-cash financing or who don't pay their balance in full each month should keep statements a year or more)-----3 months


Pay Stubs (Keep them until you get your W-2, then discard after checking for accuracy)-----1 year


Home Records (Keep all records concerning the purchase and money spent on remodeling or improvements for at least as long as you own the home.  Keep records of expenses involved with selling or buying a home for seven years after you sell your house)-----7 years to Forever


Utility Bills (Most utility bills, including electric, cable and phone, can be discarded as soon as you pay them.  One reason for keeping them longer: if you plan to sell your home and want to show them to prospective buyers)-----1 month


Investment prospectuses/other mailings (you need them only as long as they have information you care about)-----Don't keep


Loan Paperwork-----Forever


Post Script---It took the better part of a day to sort my mother's records by type and another full day to shred.  Happy Shredding! 


Your brother in Christ,




David Hildebrandt serves as Consultant to the President, as well as the Stewardship Chairman for the New Jersey District. 


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A Note About This Issue
of The Grapevine

Articles for this special "Stewardship" issue of The Grapevine were submitted by David Hildebrandt, the New Jersey District's Stewardship Chairman.  Questions about content, including reuse, may be directed to him via email.

Chatter Report

Quote Mark

What does Stewardship mean to YOU?  Your story will inspire others.

Email us your Stewardship story, or head on over to the district Facebook page and share your thoughts!

New Jersey District Social Networking Links
Lutheran Church Extension Fund
LCEFThrough your investment support, LCEF loans dollars to local Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod churches, schools, child care centers, and more! You are a key partner in making a difference for the future of the Church.

Click here for
 Current Investment Rates.

What A Way
What A Way
Click the logo above for more information regarding the "What a Way" Church Worker Recruiting & Retention initiative.

Contact Us

District President

Rev. William R. Klettke

Mission Executive

Rev. Dr. Anthony Steinbronn 

Consultant to the President

David Hildebrandt

Urban Mission Strategist
Rev. James D. Buckman

Administrative Assistant

Elaine Schleifer

Business Manager

William Webster

Communications Coordinator
Caitlin May Dinger

Lutheran Church Extension Fund
Rick Porter


Ministry Quicklinks
Aiming at the Wrong Target?
This also happens with churches, and is one of the reasons stewardship is such a challenge-- they have aimed at the wrong target!

Here are some "wrong" and "right" targets when it comes to stewardship:

1. Focusing almost exclusively on what the steward does. (The right target is focusing first on the identity of the steward.)

2. Focusing only on technical solutions to stewardship issues. (The right target is focusing on technical and adaptive solutions.)

3. Seeing stewardship as only an institutional issue. (The right target is seeing stewardship as primarily a spiritual issue.)

4. Seeing stewardship as primarily a money issue. (The right target is seeing stewardship as a whole-life issue.)

5. Focusing exclusively on passive righteousness. (The right target is focusing on both passive and active righteousness.)

6. Focusing primarily on giving "to" a budget. (The right target is helping members give "from" what God has done for them in Christ.)

7. Focusing primarily on what we don't have; focusing on scarcity. (The right target is focusing on what God has given us: abundance.)

8. Focusing on living the Christian life solely out of gratitude. (The right target is focusing on both gratitude and responsibility.)

9. Focusing on sharing what we own with God and others. (The right target is sharing what God has entrusted to us with other so that God's purposes are advanced.  We are not owners of what God has entrusted to us.)

10. Focusing solely on the individual steward. (The right target is focusing on both the individual steward and the corporate steward.)

11. Seeing Christian stewardship as transaction. (The right target is seeing Christian stewardship as transformation.)

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Living Abundantly
Faith Aflame
Faith Aflame:  A Congregational Process to Change the Stewardship Culture

Faith Aflame is a process that engages leaders of the congregation in an intentional stewardship focus.  It does this by providing resources that help individuals and congregations examine their stewardship life in the light of God's word and assists in making changes consistent with The word.

In the years that I have been involved with the Stewardship efforts of our Synod, and more specifically the New Jersey District, I have attempted to bring Stewardship forward as a process rather than a program; where the focus is on implementing adaptive changes rather than technical changes. 

Now, thanks to Synodical leadership, a congregational process has been developed with a vision to change the Stewardship Culture.  Here, the goal of Faith Aflame is for stewardship to be enlarged and be recognized as more than just finances and to be elevated and made a priority within each congregation. 

Presently, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Howell and Tumaini Kristo in Jersey City  have taken the lead as pilot congregations for this process in the NJ District and have conducted their leadership learning communities on a regular basis.  Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Ridgewood has conducted an introductory workshop and is in the process of creating a number of small group learning clusters. 

On September 10, 2011, another Faith Aflame introductory workshop will be conducted at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Mahwah with  specifics of the workshop and an invitation to all congregations forthcoming.

For more information, contact David Hildebrandt.

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Consecrated Stewards
Consecrated StewardsConsecrated Stewards is a ministry of growth and commitment in which the people of God celebrate His gifts and grow in the joy of giving and serving.

As congregations recognize the need to renew or give regular attention to activities essential to the mission of the church, they often seek help in the area of stewardship.  Congregations are receptive to help that addresses their stewardship needs in a very direct way.

LCEF's Capital Funding Services has developed a resource to meet this stewardship need in congregations. This resource is being made available through local administration in the New Jersey District in order to fully address the needs of congregations.

Consecrated Stewards Raises Annual Giving by Raising Christian Stewards

Consecrated Stewards - An Overview

Consecrated Stewards is based on the need of the giver to give, not the need of the church to receive.

It is not tied to the church budget, and can be used at any time of year. Budget based emphases never raise more than what is needed to meet the budget. Stewardship emphases raise people to a new level of spiritual commitment and annual giving. Congregations often experience intentions of giving that exceed previous envelope giving by 15%-35%.

Consecrated Stewards is a stewardship education and commitment emphasis. It recognizes that churches that fail to talk about Christian stewardship on a regular basis often end up talking about money all year long.

Consecrated Stewards is based on the Biblical principles of percentage-based, grace-motivated, sacrificial giving. It urges people to take a step forward in their stewardship life without pressure or legalism. It does not use gimmicks or fund-raising techniques. It emphasizes equal sacrifice, not equal amounts.

Consecrated Stewards ties the commitment process to the Sunday morning act of worship. It reaches the maximum number of people in the most spiritual setting and does not have members asking other members for a financial commitment.

Consecrated Stewards utilizes a trained facilitator to keep the process on track, maintain Biblical focus and avoid expensive shortcuts.

For more information about the Consecrated Stewards program in the New Jersey District, contact David Hildebrandt.

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The Value of Life 
Hourglass 2If you had a bank account that credited your account each morning with $86.400, that carried over no balance from day to day, allowed you to keep no cash in your account, and every evening cancelled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day, what would you do?

Draw out every cent of course!

Well you do have such a bank, and it's called time.  Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds.  Every night it rules off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purposes.  It carries over no balances.  It allows no overdrafts.  If you fail to use the day's deposit, the loss is YOURS.

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Spiritual Gifts Checklist

Spiritual giftsRecognize your "spiritual gifts" by checking them off as listed below:

-----Evangelism:  Christians possessing this gift are eager to see others brought to Christ.  This does not always mean knocking on doors or personally talking about your faith, but rather seeing that the Gospel message is proclaimed through Word and deed at home, community and beyond.
-----Prophecy:  Those to whom the Spirit has given the gift of prophecy are able to communicate God's word and will in a clear and convincing way.  They also have the ability to connect God's Word to the issues of our modern world.  Prophets are proclaimers of God's message, but not necessarily teachers of that message.
-----Teaching:  Blessed with the gift of teaching, this Christian is able to explain the intricacies of God's Word and deepen others understanding of the faith.  The teacher is equally at home teaching one-on-one, in a small group, or to a larger assembly.
-----Encouraging:  Christians who have the gift of encouraging are the "body builders" of the Church.  They are good at lifting up needs, presenting solutions and rallying the Church to a particular course of action.  They also tend to be good listeners and counselors, helping to "bear one another's burdens." (Galatians 6:2)
-----Leadership:  This Christian takes great delight in leading others to a deeper level in their faith.  They gravitate to positions of leadership over large and small groups and see that various missions and ministries run smoothly.
-----Mercy:  The gift of showing mercy is the divine ability to "give a cup of cold water" (Matthew 10:42) to those in need and take care of physical deficiencies.  Compassion is the emotion most closely tied to this gift.
-----Serving:  Serving is for the "hands-on" Christian who likes to undertake a specific project with concrete results.
-----Giving:  The gift of giving goes well beyond the usual, weekly offerings.  This Christian recognizes giving as a "whole life" involvement and commitment.
-----Administration:  Administrators have very good organizational skills.  They act to keep the vision or "big picture" clear so that it is not lost. 

May the Lord continue to bless the gifts that you have identified and may you continue to serve the Lord with these gifts.

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Spoon or Scoop? 

Measuring UtensilsThe stewardship act is not done because it pays, but because it is a part of God's plan for us.  We do not give expecting rewards.  Our rewards are primarily spiritual.  Gratitude is not a motivator-It is a response.  When we give for God's glory and out of obedience to Him, we receive back from Him in like manner.

Listen to the words of our Lord Jesus in Luke 6:38 ---"Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, it will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

In other words, if you use a teaspoon in giving to God, God will use a teaspoon in giving back to you.  If you use a grain scoop in your giving, God will do the same.  Just imagine if you used an 18 wheeler tandem dump truck in your giving, so would God.

The problem is that some of us use a teaspoon in our giving, but want God to use the grain scoop or the dump truck in giving back to us.  But God's system of finance just doesn't work that way.  He always gives a full measure, one that has been shaken and allowed to settle so that it is completely full, but He gives us with the same measure that we give.

I think then the question for consideration here is whether to use the spoon or the scoop in our stewardship efforts.

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Be Happy
Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down.  His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them:
Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

Happy are those who morn; God will comfort them!

Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!

Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!

Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!

Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers.  Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven.  This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted. (Matthew 5:1-12)

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Getting Deeper:  Q & A with the Rev. Wayne Knolhoff - LCMS Stewardship Director
The Calling

From CPH.org

Click the image above to view the book information online. 

Q:  If someone had not been exposed to a stewardship lifestyle and/or understanding but now had an interest, what would be the first book this person should be introduced to?

A: The Calling by Kurt Senske does a really good job of helping people see what it means to be a Christian and what it means to live out the Christian life, but it does not use the word steward or stewardship much if at all.  It has a workbook kind of format so it lends itself to having people do something with the information he gives.

What would be the "first" ten (10) books that we should have as a foundational piece on stewards and stewardship?


        1.    The Large Catechism by Martin Luther
        2.    The Steward Leader by R. Scott Rodin
        3.    Stewards in the Kingdom by R. Scott Rodin
        4.    The Stewardship Life by Karl Kretzschmar
        5.    Ask, Thank, Tell by Charles Lane
        6.    A Theology of Christian Stewardship by T.A. Kantonen
        7.    Christian Stewards Confronted and Committed

       by Waldo J. Werning

        8.    Secrets of the Generous Life by Gordon MacDoinald
        9.    The Calling: Live a Life of Significance by Kurt Senske
      10.    The Christian Faith by Robert Kolb

Q:  Which book/s emphasizes the "whole life" stewardship approach?


        1.  Stewards in the Kingdom by R. Scott Rodin
        2.  The Calling: Live a Life of Significance by Kurt Senske

Q:  Recognizing that not everyone learns through "reading" of materials, what other educational pieces would you recommend?

A:  Learning resources are available online.  Also, a DVD titled "Biblical Stewardship: Our Duty and Delight" by Dr. Mark Allan Powell does a good job of whole life stewardship education.


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Prayer Highlights
  • For the people of Joplin, MO, and our LCMS sisters and brothers in that area who have been affected by recent tornados, that they might find comfort and hope in the Good News of Jesus Christ during a time of suffering and distress.

  • For Rev. Jim Buckman, that his work with the immigrant communities in the greater Newark area and throughout the district would flourish and bear fruit.
  • That God would raise up mission leaders within the New Jersey District who would help the church continue to nurture the faithful, and also challenge the faithful to reach out in love to the increasing numbers of people in our communities who are lost without Jesus Christ.
  • For the poor, the unemployed, and the under-employed, that in the midst of their struggles, they may experience the blessing of all who take refuge in the Lord of Glory.
  • For all congregations in the New Jersey District, that God would guide us to be faithful stewards of all that He has given to us-- our Time, Talent, Treasure, Testimony, Touch, Tissue and Trash.    
Lord God, You alone are the God of power and might. Save us from temptations which allure us to place our trust and love in false idols. Help us to fear, love, and trust in You above all things

(From Let Us Pray, Prayer of the Church, Second Sunday After Pentecost - June 26, 2011)

Upcoming Events  You can always find the most up-to-date information at the NJ District's Google Calendar online.  Or, you can subscribe to the NJ District Calendar Live Feed

JULY 2011

*NEW* HiLights Music Ministry (Short-Term Mission Team)  

Friday, July 8 at 7:30 PM
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church - Somerset, NJ
Free concert.  All are invited.
Click here to download a bulletin insert.
For more information about this visiting short-term mission team, contact Rev. James Buckman

*NEW* HiLights Music Ministry (Short-Term Mission Team) 

Saturday, July 9 at 7:00 PM

Zion Lutheran Church - Maywood, NJ

For more information about this visiting short-term mission team, contact Rev. James Buckman


*NEW* HiLights Music Ministry (Short-Term Mission Team) 

Sunday, July 9 at 7:00 PM

Tumaini Kristo - Jersey City, NJ 

For more information about this visiting short-term mission team, contact Rev. James Buckman 

*NEW* Leaders & Learners Practicum 

Saturday, July 16
9:30AM to 12:00PM
Zion Lutheran Church - Clark, NJ
Students will present a topic of their choice, followed by a time of questions and answers.
There is no charge and all are invited to hear and learn with these students. 

Summer Youth Camp (Grades 4-8)

Sunday, July 17 through Friday, July 22
Refreshing Mountain Camp - Stevens, PA
Cost: $300 per camper.  $275 if registered on or before June 1.
Click here for more information and online registration.
**Download a camp bulletin insert**
**Download a camp poster**


Youth Workers Meeting

Saturday, August 6

9AM to 12PM

Topic: New Jersey District Youth Ministry Team - Participant Selection

**Click here for more information, and to download a nomination form for youth and adults**  

Nominations close on July 1, 2011.



New Jersey District Pastors' Retreat

Tuesday, September 13 through Thursday, September 15

Carmel Retreat Center - Mahwah, NJ

Speaker: Rev. Art Umbach

Topic: The Spiritual Life of a Church Worker.   

Cost: $190

Registration information TBA. 


Together With All Creatures  

Saturday, September 24 

Emmanuel Lutheran Church - Milford, PA

Work day in the park and barbecue.  Dr. Charles Arand (Concordia Seminary) will be featured.

More information TBA.  



Pastors' Wives Retreat

Friday, October 14 through Sunday, October 16

Hotel Indigo - Basking Ridge, NJ

More information TBA.  



*NEW* NJ JAM: Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus (Heb 12:2)

Saturday, November 19 

St. Paul Lutheran Church - Flemington, NJ

Keynote speaker: Rev. Greg Bearss

Worship leaders: Dave Frincke & Kip Fox

Registration info TBA.  Visit the NJ JAM website for more information. 


MAY 2012 

*NEW* New Jersey District Convention

Thursday, May 31 through Saturday, June 2

Doubletree Suites - Mt. Laurel, NJ

Delegate and registration information TBA. 

God is doing great things in the New Jersey District!
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Newsletter Information
Submissions to The Grapevine (news items and upcoming events) are due by the first & third Mondays of the month in order to be considered for publication. 

For more information contact:
Caitlin May Dinger
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