“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful in a few things,
I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
In the Parable of the Talents, we are reminded that we are called to steward that which God has entrusted into our care. We are called to receive what we have been given, nurture and grow it, share with those in need, and return to God what belongs to God having been faithful stewards of many things.
We are called to steward healthy congregations, a clear vision and mission in our congregations, compassionate ministries for those in our community of faith and in the communities around us, and we are called to steward the future. In this time of transition it is important to examine how we can be a steward of these things.
In our “And Now?” event this past weekend, we were challenged and encouraged to ask some important questions of ourselves, our leaders, and our congregations. I have captured some of that workshop by summarizing those questions into four key areas for us as we continue to navigate this season in our ministries:
We are Stewards of Hope
In Romans 8:22-27, we read that all of creation is groaning, and not only creation, but we ourselves groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, for in hope we are saved.
Mark Ramsey, Executive Director of The Ministry Collaborative, challenged us to consider that right now, we are trying to be saved by lots of things: technology, strategies, technique, majority vote, and the list goes on. None of that is enough.
What are we learning? Here is a list that Mark shared from the things they have learned from pastors and congregations around the country:
- Do less, go deeper.
- God loves the world more than God loves the church.
- Fall in love with leading change.
- “Sit and get” is over – Now is the time of “Contend and Send.”
- “We don’t rise to the occasion; we sink to the level of our training.”
- Faith formation is knowing the “why” and focusing less on the “how.”
- This is the prime opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to our true culture of being a place of care, community, connection, depth, and equity.
Pauli Murray once wrote, “Hope is a song in a weary throat. Give me a song of hope and a world where I can sing it.”
We are Stewards of Joy
Adam Mixon, Content Curator for The Ministry Collaborative, reminded us that Stewardship is as much about not wasting things as it is about knowing how to curate resources well. He asked us how we can curate joy during this crisis?
In times of instability, it is human for us to desire some certainty. Our world and our way of doing things has been upended. But we are confronted with a unique opportunity. Rather than thinking about processes and plans to program and navigate this season, let’s think about how we are curating joy during this season.
What moments in 2020 have caused you to see differently? How have those moments inspired your creativity? What of this past year’s events have given you cause for joy? Our faith inspires joy that is rooted in the living hope we have in the resurrection. Find ways to inspire others to Godly confidence and joy, celebrating those moments in the ways you are serving one another and those who still need to hear about God’s love.
We are Stewards of Authentic Engagement
One of the things we struggle with right now is the feeling that what we are doing in this season is not authentic. Jennifer Watley Maxell, Program Curator for The Ministry Collaborative, challenged us by asking us to think about what it means to be authentic. What does it look like to be authentically engaged?
Jennifer says she believes authentic engagement comes from “wholeheartedness” in our ministries which includes our:
Courage to be imperfect – Wholehearted people have the courage to let the whole truth, including their imperfections, be known to others.
Compassion to ourselves and others – To be compassionate with others, we must first learn how to be kind to ourselves.
Connection of authentic engagement – Wholehearted people are willing to let go of who they think they should be to be who they really are. We all need connection because it gives purpose and meaning to our lives however that connection occurs.
Core of vulnerability – Vulnerability is at the core of fears and our struggles, but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.
We are Stewards of Our Future
Adam Borneman concluded our workshop with a beautiful collage of pictures and asked us to pick an image of what ministry will look like in the future. Whatever image you choose, know that you can accomplish all God has called you to do. Katie Geneva Cannon often said, “Do the work your soul must have.” May that be the way we steward our future as the people of God.
Deborah Rexrode, PhD
POJ Associate for Stewardship