By Benjamin C. Maxson, Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries
Summary: Giving must flow out of an attitude of worship, rejoicing in God as Creator, Redeemer, and Friend.
Stewardship, as a ministry, must continually re-examine its focus and maintain its Biblical basis. Church funding, tithes, and offerings are all part of stewardship, yet a primary focus on money strengthens only the materialistic thrust of life and destroys the giving dimension of stewardship.
Stewardship is a dynamic partnership with God. It is not enough to encourage people to give; we must first help them in their spiritual growth. Giving must flow out of an attitude of worship, rejoicing in God as Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. The lifestyle of joy in Christ should be our primary focus. From there, we can naturally expand to other areas.
Stewardship ministry must maintain a twin focus: the broad focus on a lifestyle in Christ and the narrower focus on finances. The latter will retain its balance only in the context of the first. Stewardship ministry is three-phased. First, recreate the vision of biblical stewardship. Much of our church understands stewardship to be giving, and giving to be funding the church. Giving is really managing God’s assets in partnership with Him, guided by the Holy Spirit. God funds His church. He has chosen to involve us in managing His money through tithes and offerings because we need to integrate Him into this difficult and challenging area of life.
Next, recruit and train pastors and church leaders to this renewed vision. Past stewardship abuses will change only when we accept and implement this vision. Administrators will provide a strong support when they see the biblical rationale and the practical results. In some sections of the world, such as Inter-America, a Biblical approach, pastoral training, administrative support, and an emphasis on systematic giving are producing miraculous results.
Finally, develop multiple resources to train pastors and members in Biblical stewardship as a lifestyle.
You can be part of this great challenge. Review your vision of God, of how He wants to be involved in your life and ministry. Commit yourself to sharing a greater vision of partnership with God. Ask Him to guide you as you develop materials to reach the people God has placed in your care.