With that title I am sure that many of you simply wanted to stop reading. After all Stewardship is one of those words that seems to cause many to flee, or at least put their heads down. Yet without stewardship there can be no renewal, no growth, no faith community, no mission.
Stewardship is simply about our call to live out our faith by using what God has given us for the purposes that God is calling us to. It begins with recognizing how richly God has blessed us. We are each blessed with life, with time, with talents and sills, with money and passion. It is only when we release these gifts, to be used by God, that the Christian life and the Christian mission can happen. There is one thing that has always amazed me. It is the sheer gathering of gifted people that happens at church.
Releasing these gifts though is a greater challenge. After all the gifts that God give to each an every one of us are usually that very thing that we think of as being “our” gifts. They are the things we grasp on to most tightly. What this means that this is an area of work. It is an area that any church that cares about mission and ministry must focus on (after all with out stewardship – no ministry can happen) It is also an area that each of us need to focus on if we want to also grow in our own faith as well. After all is though the practice of stewardship that our own lives become lives of mission and lives that are a part of the building up of the kingdom of God.
So where do we start. Well start by reflecting on the ways in which God has blessed you. How has God given you life, water to drink, a home to live in, friends, skills, family . . . Then begin praying about how God is calling you to give back. What is your ministry that you are called for – in the church, in your home and in the world? Finally how are you being called to contribute to our shared mission as communities of faith?
For churches there are many good resources to help with stewardship. If you are looking for a place to start “New Consecration Sunday” is perhaps the best stewardship program. It is just a starting place. Also look into the theology of Stewardship (John Douglas Hall’s book “The Steward: A Biblical Symbol Come of Age” is a classic, or look at how you can practice your Stewardship of Creation
I once was given the responsibility to look after our national stewardship programs. At first I was fill with trepidation, by the end I had discovered stewardship is perhaps one of the richest areas of our faith. I pray you can have a similar journey, for stewardship is essential if we are to be renewed.