Embracing Stewardship by Rev. Gene Wyssmann

Whether it’s a big church or a small church, a rural or city church, it appears there is a genuine reluctance to address stewardship. This hesitancy can be found both in pastors and laity.

It seems there is a pattern across many of our congregations. There is an aspect of ministry that seems to consistently trip people up. Whether it’s a big church or a small church, a rural or city church, it appears there is a genuine reluctance to address stewardship. This hesitancy can be found both in pastors and laity. What makes it even more challenging, is if a congregation doesn’t have an established time frame for addressing stewardship. If this is the case, it can feel like an enormous task to start bringing it up, seemingly out of nowhere.

There are several reasons pastors and leaders might find it daunting to bring up stewardship with their congregation. Sometimes there is the impression that stewardship only deals with money. Any dialogue that involves money and finance, whether personal or institutional, can feel awkward and uncomfortable. And let’s be honest, most men didn’t feel called or inspired to go to Seminary because they enjoy asking people for money.

The good news is that simply talking about money, or even asking for it, is not what stewardship is all about.

Christian stewardship is really a spiritual issue. It’s a heart issue. Stewardship is our response to God’s grace for us in Jesus Christ. Stewardship is managing wisely the blessings that the Lord has entrusted to us, motivated by His grace. It means recognizing and assessing the many resources He has given in our lives and drawing on these blessings to make a meaningful contribution of time, talent, and
treasure to His Kingdom. Consider the LCMS definition of stewardship:

“Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of God’s family — the church — in managing life’s resources for His purposes.”

The truth of the matter is that even if your congregation has not addressed stewardship systematically—or at all, it’s a great time to begin. Our Christian stewardship is rooted in scripture. In my opinion, there’s no better place to start than the biblical study of stewardship. Chapters 8 and 9 of II Corinthians are authoritative scriptures on this topic, and there are many more.

If you’re struggling to get started with meaningful stewardship in your congregation, immerse yourself in God’s Word and see what Paul has to say about it in those chapters in II Corinthians.

There’s a chance you might find it helpful to rethink your notion of stewardship. As was said before, it’s not only about money. Stewardship, at its core, means managing well and returning to God from what He’s already given us. It doesn’t mean giving what we don’t have. Our healthiest stewardship involves gifts of our time, our talent and our treasure. If you’ve been you’ve been limiting stewardship
to finances, this expanded concept is very helpful.

One reason stewardship campaigns are successful is they take this easy-to-avoid topic and offer it a prominent place on the congregation’s calendar.

This then gives members the opportunity to search the Scriptures, to listen to what God may be calling
them to give, and to consider what the needs and ministry opportunities are. Don’t forget, there are people for whom giving money is a great joy. For others, their greater joy is found in giving of their time and talent.

It often seems to be the case that if you avoid talking about stewardship in an intentional way during a predetermined time of year in the congregation, there’s a good chance you will find yourself talking about it all year long.

This takes the form of wondering why people aren’t more excited to support the ministries in your congregation or wondering how to motivate giving.

May God bless you in your personal stewardship and may He bless the stewardship efforts in your congregation. May all your gifts be given, responding to God’s grace for you in Jesus Christ, realizing you are freed to serve, and joyfully responding to His call to commitment.

Here at the Missouri District office, we have staff and programs available to assist you as you build up healthy, Christian stewardship, based on the principles outlined in scripture. Contact us today to learn more at gene.wyssmann@mo.lcms.org, and check out the resources here.

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