Authors: R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag
What immediately struck me about The Sower was that it was not just another book talking about the need for personal generosity nor was it a book about how a church can extract more tithe from their congregation (I have read a few of these before). The Sower is an exploration into the journey of a steward. It reflects on the differing mindsets of an owner vs a steward and the journey that is needed to move from a bondage mentality to that of freedom, a temporal vs eternal perspective. After identifying the desired characteristics of the Steward, the book then turns to a focus on the role of the pastor as the Sower. Outlining the four seasons of sowing a Pastor needs to traverse in order to deepen their congregations understanding of these new steward’s mindsets.
Throughout The Sower the key theme is to realign a pastor’s focus to one of building stewards and not merely generous givers. The authors outline that as individuals develop a deeper revelation of stewardship, churches will observe an increase in financial generosity, however, they expect this to be a small part of a much deeper impact on the individual steward which will extend to all aspects of the ‘treasures’ they are entrusted with, not just the small amount they give.
While undoubtedly pastors are committed to the responsibility of discipling the flock, The book challenges, whether such efforts are producing Godly Stewards or merely Generous Givers. Similarly, the book looks at how praise is shown to God in this area. Questioning if traditional manifestations of provision, like the increase in funds collected, are the only things that are celebrated or if successful congregational heart developments, like increases in number of people giving or number of people serving/volunteering, are also included in a church’s celebration of God’s provision.
While containing a number of challenges, The Sower is not just a book that will leave a Pastor feeling guilty, it intentionally contains a step by step, or more accurately a season by season, guide to how to foster a Steward’s Heart within your congregation.
I would encourage pastors to purchase a copy of the book, identify a key leader who would be best placed to champion the call to stewardship (e.g. executive pastor, key elder or stewardship pastor), get them to read it and to report back to the leadership team on what they learned. This book presents an excellent opportunity for a pastor to invest in and build the passion of such an internal champion.
Noting the seasonal approach adopted in the book, I would suggest the best time to embrace the book and its suggestions would be immediately after an annual giving appeal. This will allow your church to maximise their planning around the four seasons of the Sower.
This book is a great reminder of the broad opportunity we have to build congregations with a strong sense of whole-of-life stewardship which I would encourage all church leaders to embrace.
Copies of this book can be purchased at CMA Australia – https://www.cma.net.au/resources/itemdetail.php?ProductID=727
Chief Member Officer, Christian Super
This book review represents the personal opinion of Nathan. Nathan has not been paid by the authors, publishers or distributor of the book to provide this review.