Stewardship Thoughts

In the spring of 2016, Sean Mitchell, Development Director at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, was the keynote speaker of our Annual Leadership and Stewardship Event. This past week he and the Rev. Dr. Millie Snyder published a book “Gracious Stewardship: Developing the Church in the Way of Jesus.” Today I share with you a small glimpse into the ideas that Sean and Millie explore in their book.

Sean reminds us, “We are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, that of gracious forgiveness offered by God to all members of God’s family. Our stewardship ministry is part of our overall proclamation of the gospel, and not a separate fundraising effort to provide the finances for our proclamation. Stewardship must be integrated, both in content and in methodology.”

Let’s reflect with Sean and Millie on Jesus’ parable about a father and his two sons. The younger son took his inheritance and squandered it in a distant country. When he had spent everything and found himself working in the fields feeding pigs, he decided to return home in hopes that he might become a hired hand for his father. Instead his father welcomes him home and throws a party for him. The older son who had remained home all along found it hard to understand why his father had never shown that kind of attention to him.

In this story we see a father who enacts grace with both of his sons. This grace was the foundation for his own stewardship.

  • The father is a gracious steward of the wealth God has entrusted to him. When the younger son asked for his share of the inheritance, his father was generous and gave it to him.
  • The father is a gracious steward of his relationships. When the younger son was seen far off, his father saw him and ran to embrace him. This father was willing to accept his son without condition. He also went into the fields to reassure his older son that he had always been a part of the family and had always had a share of the father’s blessings.
  • The father is a grateful steward. He offered grace freely to both sons. He did not put conditions on their role in the family, and he didn’t withhold blessings from either son. He celebrates and forgives because he is a thankful soul and takes nothing for granted. His gratitude keeps him centered in gracious generosity.

Sean and Millie begin with this biblical story to lay out what they see as the three core values of a grace-based stewardship ministry.

1) Transforming Fellowship – relationships are vital to our formation as stewards.

What would that mean in your congregation? It would mean:

  • moving toward one another in community
  • sharing our stewardship stories and listening to one another
  • hearing the stories of people who are taking steps toward contented lifestyles
  • hearing the stories of people whose lives and wallets are over-leveraged
  • nurturing an environment of trust where it is safe to listen and challenge one another
  • creating relational communities where we discuss and embrace the gifts of God and discern what gifts we might each share in response to God’s amazing grace

2) Gratitude – embracing God’s abundant grace fosters peace, trust, and celebration.

Stewardship teams need gratitude as a core value. Without gratitude, stewardship ministry is merely a string of tasks with no acknowledgement of grace. Learning to regularly acknowledge and thank God for provision and resource is a spiritual discipline. Creating special occasions where you can lead the entire congregation in practices of gratitude are appropriate responses to God’s generous grace.

3) Equipping the Saints – encouraging the church to share, practice hospitality, and live generously.

Gracious stewardship teams are encouraging and equipping. They join with the mission of other ministry teams to build up the body of Christ. Their work presents faith-formation opportunities for members to learn how to practice stewardship in real life. They expand the understanding of stewardship to be more than giving and finances. Equipping the body of Christ to embrace stewardship of all of life and creation gives them joy and purpose.

If this grace-filled message from Sean and Millie resonates with you in your Stewardship ministry, I encourage to get a copy of the book to read, invite your Stewardship Ministry team to study the book with you, share a copy of the book with the session, and most importantly consider the values of grace-based stewardship in your own life and ministry!

Deborah Rexrode
Associate for Stewardship

 

 

ARCHIVES:

An Opportunity to Give (March 2019)

A Culture of Thanksgiving (February 2019)

Telling Our Story (January 2019)

Stewards of the Promise (December 2018)

Ask, Thank, Tell (November 2018)

Stewarding the Church (October 2018)

The Currency of Money (September 2018)

The Currency of Relationship (August 2018)

Holy Currencies (July 2018)

Take Hold of Life that Really is Life (June 2018)

Giving Courageously (May 2018)

Budgeting our Time (April 2018)

Eat, Pray, Love (March 2018)

Sabbath Time (February 2018)

Celebration of Giving (January 2018)

Carols for Year End Stewardship (December 2017)

Teaching Stewardship to Children (November 2017)

Stewardship of Time (October 2017)

How Much is Enough (September 2017)

An Expression of Faith (August 2017)

An Annual Stewardship Emphasis (July 2017)

Defined by Generosity (June 2017)

Trust and Transparency (May 2017)

The “T’s” of Stewardship (April 2017)

Faithful Living (March 2017)

Embracing Stewardship (February 2017)

Making Stewardship Year Round (January 2017)

A Vision of Stewardship Ministry (December 2016)

Thanks and Giving (November 2016)

Healthy Congregations (October 2016)

Grace and Gratitude (September 2016)

Budgeting and Pledging (August 2016)

A Stewardship Plan (July 2016)

Things to Know about Stewardship (June 2016)

Summer Stewardship (May 2016)

Living Generously (April 2016)

People, Passion, and Possibilities (March 2016)

Imagining Abundance (February 2016)

Stewardship 101 (January 2016)

Our Christmas Offering (December 2015)

Living is Giving (November 2015)