I begin this blog with an apology, not just for me, but for a whole generation of parents who did not model or teach their children that following Christ is about stewardship. I know that some will ask, “So what the heck is stewardship?” It is about giving our time, talent and treasure in thanks and support for the mission of Jesus Christ.
So now we know and I have offered my heartfelt apology, what do we do now?
There are three steps I believe are a part of the solution.
· First, an awareness that we have a mission given to us by Jesus and we are called to support it.
· Second, the education of all of us who are members of the church (the Body of Christ) about what it takes to do this mission, where is the mission taking us and how we can support this mission with our time, talents and treasures.
· Third and finally, our actions as followers of Christ and as a community of faith (church). In other words, do we act in support or do we just talk about it?
For many Christians and especially Lutherans, talking about stewardship and money is hugely difficult. There is the push me to pull you effect of encouraging the pastor to preach more money sermon and those that say we talk about money too much from the pulpit. Interestingly this falls along generational lines. There is the talk of tithing (10% of a person’s income).
Jesus never said he wanted those who follow him to tithe, what he did want was their hearts. Not guilt offerings, but love offerings, not to pay for sins but to thank God for the forgiveness of sins. In Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says that God loves a joyful or cheerful giver, not one coerced or shamed or required but giving from one’s heart.
This weekend at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church we are going to have “Commitment Weekend”. In other words, a pledge to give to support the mission of Jesus Christ at St. Paul’s. The pledge or what a family or person gives is not made public. What making a commitment does is give the person and the church a goal, this encourages us in our giving. This helps the church in its planning.
How we give, when we give and why we give is a matter between God and God’s people. But giving makes a difference, giving in gratitude and praise for a mission Jesus himself calls us to is powerful. Sometimes we hear the phrase: “Bang for the buck”. Sometimes we will never really know what a difference the church makes in the lives of folks, sometimes we will. But when it comes to making a difference for good, giving to the mission of Jesus Christ does make all the difference in the world.