Exodus 18 introduces the principle of delegation: allowing leaders to appoint assistants to take on tasks that highlight their God-given gifts and enable God’s work to progress more smoothly and efficiently. “When Moses was endeavoring to carry alone burdens so heavy that he would soon have worn away under them, he was counseled by Jethro to plan for a wise distribution of responsibilities.”[i] One of God’s aims was to guide Moses in choosing assistants, “that his burdens might be lightened.”[ii] Additionally, the church has much to gain from a larger number of people prepared and organized to carry out God’s work. “If we can arrange to have regular, organized companies instructed intelligently in regard to the part they should act as servants of the Master, our churches will have a life and vitality that they have long needed.”[iii]
In line with Exodus 18 and prophetic instruction, the Christian Stewardship District Team (CSDT) assists the pastor in inspiring and guiding the church, also offering the opportunity for individuals to discover, develop, and use new gifts. On a larger organizational level, it aims to improve implementation of conference stewardship department projects in local churches.
II. CSDT STRUCTURE AND PROFILE
The CSDT normally consists of five persons: the pastor and four selected members. Candidates come from the church or churches for which the pastor is responsible. Members of the CSDT should display the attributes that God recommended through Jethro—“able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness” (Ex. 18:21, NKJV). When pastors select their CSDTs, they should consider individuals who demonstrate spirituality (love for God), ethical values (good reputation inside and outside of the church), loyalty to the church, and personal practice of stewardship. Ideally, the teams will consist of experienced elders and stewardship leaders as well as young leaders, in order to promote discipleship and development of new leaders.
III. CSDT RESPONSIBILITIES
The CSDT undertakes three main tasks:
First, to carry out a special program covering four stewardship areas (time, temple, talent, and treasure) at least one Sabbath every month in a constituent church, according to the team’s itinerary prepared under the pastor’s guidance. The preparation of the program, materials, and talks is the responsibility of the union’s stewardship department, to be produced annually for the exclusive use of the CSDT.
The second task is to assist the pastor in carrying out other programs related to the Christian stewardship ministry in the local church and/or district throughout the year. Examples include revival weeks, district conferences on faithfulness, gatherings for new converts, among others.
Last, CSDTs support, but do not substitute for, local church stewardship directors. The director is always included in the activities carried out by the CSDT in his or her church. The team serves as a link between the pastor and the stewardship directors for dissemination of materials, information, and guidelines regarding department projects.
IV. CSDT OPERATION
In order for the CSDT to better perform its activities, coordinated effort is required from everyone involved in its operation. Comparing the CSDT to a gearbox, five of its parts are essential for the teams to function efficiently and produce satisfactory outcomes:
- UNION—The union is responsible for the production of all working materials (magazines, banners, stickers, cards, T-shirts, etc.), adding the stewardship Sabbaths to the general union calendar, and providing materials to train the CSDT team.
- CONFERENCE—As far as possible, the conference is responsible for acquiring all the working materials produced by the union, training the teams, accompanying and supporting them throughout the year.
- PASTOR—The pastor selects the four team members, accompanies the team each Sabbath they do a program, participates in the team’s planning meetings whenever possible, and schedules a fellowship event with them at least once every year.
- LEADER—Each team appoints a leader responsible for aligning the program with the church leadership at the church at which the program is to take place. Such leaders will support and intercede for the stewardship directors in their districts. Furthermore, they will organize monthly team meetings to pray, plan, and study the stewardship book of the year.
- CSDT—The CSDT’s main task is to carry out the annual program proposed in all the district churches. As such, members need to collectively pray, study, and deepen their knowledge in the topics to be presented, and be prepared to support the pastor in other stewardship programs in the district.
V. OPERATION DYNAMICS OF THE CSDT
The CSDT is responsible for all the programming during the stewardship Sabbath presented at a church each month; therefore, the program details must be shared previously with the church leadership. In order for the congregation and the team to have a positive experience, some guidelines are offered below for the CSDT’s activities:
FRIENDLINESS—The CSDT is there to help, counsel, and teach, but never to impose, demand, and compel. Therefore, a friendly and polite attitude toward the church members is key. Members must always seek to leave the best impression possible, in order for God’s name to be honored, and keep the doors open for the team’s next visit.
PUNCTUALITY—Punctuality must be a trademark of the CSDT. All that is to be done must be prepared beforehand, and the equipment tested prior to the members’ arrival to avoid delays in the program and not leave an impression of chaos.
PLANNING—The entire program on the day (Sabbath School, divine service, and youth service) is to be conducted by the team; therefore, the program must be sent by the pastor to the head elder or group director, in order to avoid unwanted surprises on the day.
INCLUSION—In addition to the stewardship director, other department leaders should be involved in the program: welcoming team, Sabbath School, children’s worship, youth director, and especially the treasurer. The ideal is that the treasurer presents a spiritual analysis of faithfulness in the church, accompanied by Bible texts and Spirit of Prophecy quotes that show the relationship between finances and the spiritual growth of the Christian.
PREPARATION—The topics to be presented must be distributed among the team members well in advance in order that each one will have time to study the subject and provide quality content and presentation. It is recommended that the pastor is responsible for the sermon.
The CSDTs have been a great blessing in the East Brazil Union territory, as well as in other regions in Brazil. This elite Christian stewardship group has made a difference in the spiritual growth of the church and in teaching the biblical principles of faithfulness. This army of men and women of God has been an important instrument in the Lord’s hands in preparing a people to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
[i] Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), pp. 92, 93.
[ii] Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1923), p. 340.
[iii] Ellen G. White, Welfare Ministry (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1952), p. 144.