Time to Plan for Stewardship. What? Already?

This week I will take a break from General Assembly information. General Assembly does begin in a week.

It is early June and I have planning, with the staff and committees, for the fall season. We are working on the schedule and thinking ahead for resources needed for our congregations.

Believe it or not, the time is now to be thinking about stewardship. If you are panicking at this moment that you don’t have the resources, our Resourcing Coordinator, Robin, will assist you in finding what you need.

My encouragement to you is to not look at stewardship as a time to dread and to wring your hands about the scarcity of resources needed for your mission and ministry. Instead approach stewardship as a spiritual practice.

Dr. John Westerhoff, author and theologian, “Stewardship is the way to spiritual health and maturity, but for stewardship to have a chance we must begin with a serious spiritual question: What do we owe to God for the free gift of life and its accompanying benefits? The answer, of course, is everything” ( from Joyful Giving, Diocese of Toronto)

Stewardship is an expression of our faith in God’s abundance. Stewardship is not simply church fundraising but a spiritual  practice or habit.

Too often I hear, “we can’t give more” or “we don’t have enough money”. Other common comments include “Our people are on fixed incomes” or “we are a poor church, we can’t give”.  So much of our thinking about our congregation’s financial future is based on scarcity, we don’t have enough.

Several years ago a friend in Philadelphia asked if  our committee, Congregational Strategy,  could use 2 Corinthians 8: 1 -15 for our Dwelling in the Word instead of Luke 10: 1 -12. His pointed out that as we do our spiritual practice of Dwelling in the Word our scripture could be focused on another spiritual practice – being generous.

The Apostle Paul in chapter 8 admonishes the Corinthians to learn from the example of generosity of the church of Macedonia.

Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. – 2 Corinthians 8: 1 -4 The Message

What would happen if your committee, your session, your group or your team used their devotions or Dwelling in the Word time focused on the model of the churches in Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8: 1 – 15? Dwelling in the Word is about listening to each other and to where God is speaking to us as a community. Where might God be speaking in 2 Corinthians 8: 1 -15?

Stewardship is not just a time of year when you are asked to make a commitment to the church. Stewardship is a spiritual practice and a personal and corporate response of gratitude and thankfulness to God for all that God has given to us so that we may live an abundant life.