COMMITMENT

Stewardship and the Church's Mission

Stewardship and mission, I would suggest, converge in a life

of discipleship.



The mission of the church is often explained by using the text found in Matthew 28:18-20. However, we sometimes read it with the wrong emphasis.

The

mission of the church is often explained by using the text found in Matthew

28:18-20. However, we sometimes

read it with the wrong emphasis.

We speak of evangelism and baptisms as the primary objective. A closer analysis of these verses in

the original language indicates that the primary imperative verb is “to

disciple,” or “to make disciples” of people throughout the world. This is a broader perspective of the

mission. Evangelising, baptizing

and teaching are ongoing parts of the disciple-making process as are nurturing,

personal spirituality, and godly living. So discipling is the essence of the

mission of the church. Jesus can give us this command because verse 18 tells us

that “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him.



A disciple is one who follows a teacher and seeks to be

like him. For Christians the teacher is Jesus. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

puts it this way: “A

disciple of Christ is one who (1) believes his doctrine, (2) rests on his

sacrifice, (3) imbibes his spirit, and (4) imitates his example.”1

By extension this means that the disciple of Jesus will live a lifestyle that

incorporates Jesus’ ideals and example, continuing the ministry of Jesus on the

earth. Jesus is his or her Lord and Master. This is true discipleship.



A steward is also one

who serves his or her master. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30,

although it does not use the word steward or stewardship, conveys in simple

language what stewardship is all about.

A property owner is going on a journey and he leaves his property to his

trusted servants. The steward

recognizes that he is given a trust of something that he does not own. With that trust from the Master who has

all authority comes a responsibility to take care of and improve the property

because a time of accountability will come. If the steward has been faithful there will be a reward. Not

only does the owner trust the steward, but the steward trusts and respects the

owner.



Ellen White writes

about the principle of stewardship: “A steward identifies himself with his

master. He accepts the responsibilities of a steward, and he must act in his

master’s stead, doing as his master would do were he presiding. His master’s

interests become his. The position of a steward is one of dignity, because his

master trusts him.”2



If the overall mission of the church is to make disciples, stewardship is another way of describing the practical life of a disciple.

If the overall mission of the church is to make disciples,

stewardship is another way of describing the practical life of a disciple. Both the disciple and the steward have

a Master who has all authority and ownership. The steward describes the disciple who is following the will

of the Master. So the mission of

the church includes stewardship because they both are the result of dedicated

discipleship. We cannot separate them.



All that we have been given: our lives, our skills, our

resources (including time and money)—even our health—has been entrusted to us to “disciple” people who do not know Christ. How can world mission take place

without the stewardship of returning to God what He owns and the faithful and

sacrificial giving of what He has entrusted to us? Mission is always linked to

our stewardship. Mission without

stewardship—can it really happen?!



1. Easton, M. G.

(1893). “Disciple” In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper

& Brothers.

2.

White, E. G. (1940). Counsels

on Stewardship
(p. 113). Review and Herald

Publishing Association

Ben Schoun
Dr. Benjamin Schoun is a general vice

president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He advises the Stewardship,

Communication, and Education Departments.

The media including radio, television, and Internet is also part of his

responsibility. Prior to this

appointment he was the president of Adventist World Radio. He has been the president of the

Atlantic Union Conference and the Northern New England Conference in the

USA. He spent 13 years at the

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, as a professor,

program director, and associate dean.  

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