Sharon E. Terrell, Associate Pastor, Pioneer Memorial SDA Church, Berrien Springs, Michigan
Summary: The writer shares ideas for your stewardship education program.
The multicultural congregation of a university campus church provides many opportunities for stewardship education. From our youngest members to our senior citizens, our goal for each individual is to promote growth in building a relationship with God that develops faith.
A very important first step is to elect a chairman for the stewardship committee and assist, as needed, in building a team that is representative of the church body in culture, gender, age and spiritual gifts. It is very important to allow this group to think outside of the box for new and improved ways to “educate.” At the Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University, many excellent ideas for stewardship education have been generated by the members of this group.
Here is an idea for providing a learning opportunity for four and five year olds (Eager Beavers) through the Adventurer Club. One of their learning segments is about returning tithe and giving offerings. The class leader brought her students to the church one Sunday morning for a hands-on experience. As Stewardship Pastor, it was my good fortune to talk with these active boys and girls about why we return 10% of every dollar to Jesus and give love offerings, too. The teacher had given me a list of questions for which the children needed answers that I incorporated into our discussion. After a lively conversation, the leader and I assisted the children in filling out tithe/offering envelopes especially designed for children.
Then I had the children come to the sanctuary and serve as “deacons” by taking up the offering. Two were chosen to pass the plates and others sat on the pews and placed the tithe/offering envelopes they had just prepared in the offering plate. They took turns until all had taken up the offering. Then I asked them if they knew what happened to the money and tithe envelopes after the deacons take them away. They did not know. So, we went to where the deacons count the cash and allowed each child to use the dollar counter and the coin counter. This was quite successful; they did not want to leave! As a parting gift, I gave each one a copy of Dollars and Sense from Grandmommy by Kathy Reid, (http://www.adventistbookcenters.com), which features a story and workbook approach for learning the principles of stewardship.
During this school year, I have been providing a 50-minute “chapel choices” feature for Andrews University undergraduate students. I used short films (from 12 to 20 minutes) from the “God Provides” series (Crown Financial Ministries, http://www.Crown.org) featuring Widow and Oil: What Do You Have?, Jeremiah’s Call: God’s Design for Hope; Abram’s Reward: Making Major Life Choices and Abraham and Isaac: Mine or His? After the film, the students gathered in small groups to discuss questions I had provided and then we went to an “open forum” style dialogue and concluded with a short film wrap up. I had from 45 to 100 students and the setting was the chemistry amphitheater. Though this film series was used for a university student group, it can be adapted to many settings as outlined in the materials provided by Crown Ministries.
Have you noticed that those who call for the offering for local church budget often explain the use of the funds as providing “heat, lights and water?” Of course, this budget provides for so much more! And so this year we are preparing a weekly bulletin insert featuring four areas—operating budget, evangelism, Christian education and other offerings (such as conference and world budget offerings.) We provide a short explanation of how each offering assists the ministries and operations of the church and we always include photos (worth a thousand words!), the offering goal and year-to-date total. Many people have expressed their appreciation for this insert and told us how much they are learning. Music to our ears!
Maybe you can adapt one of these ideas for your stewardship education program or, perhaps, this article has sparked some creative thinking on your part as to how your congregation could benefit from a fresh approach. May God bless you as you provide leadership in modeling God’s example of generous giving.