Often, in our churches, we fear approaching the subject of giving unless there is an immediate need or crisis. This reactionary approach to stewardship is ineffective and short-sighted. The spiritual discipline of faithful stewardship allows your church to properly respond to the God-given big picture for your church. Below, you will find four key foundational elements of faithful stewardship and how they can manifest in your giving to the local church.
The foundation of faithful stewardship is found in honoring the generosity that God the Father had in sending Christ as the atonement for our sins (John 3:16). Christ forever is the ultimate picture of honor and obedience to God (John 5:19). In our journey toward Christlikeness we, too, must demonstrate grateful obedience to God’s clear instructions (2 Cor 9). When we understand that every good gift comes from God our Father (James 1:17) our eyes open to the reality that we are not owners, but rather faithful stewards of God’s undeserved blessings.
Therefore, we must be careful not to make “keeping the lights on” or “making budget” the focus of generosity, but rather the spiritual discipline of grateful obedience. The fruit of grateful obedience often is often seen in a consistent pattern of giving our tithes and offerings, which support the church’s financial needs. Where there is a lack of grateful obedience you will find an attitude of selfishness, disinterest, and eventual demise/ruin. By contrast, a generous disciple enjoys committing their resources to the work of the local church. They expect accountability and prayerful decisions from leaders, and they trust God to multiply their gifts for His purposes.
Let’s face it: there will always be something else you could spend your money on, even upon hearing the word sacrifice we wince a little. Yet, sacrifice is a hallmark of faithful stewardship. Our willingness to give more than what’s needed, expected, or even immediately available is an outward sign of our trust in God to provide, even if it means to deny ourselves. Our willingness to sacrifice comes from the example we have in Christ who is the epitome of sacrifice for the advancement of His Father’s will and desire. May we consider and reflect Christ Jesus in our acts of obedience and sacrifice on behalf of the needs of others. As churches grow and needs arise such as a capital campaign, it often requires us to wisely consider making “a gift of a lifetime” that pushes us beyond our comfort zone and stretches our faith. When we are faced with the choice between sacrifice for the benefit of others and selfishness, I pray we choose sacrifice. It may be harder, but it is worthwhile and a step in becoming Christ-like.
Mindful of Others
Faithful stewardship resists the patterns of the world, while at the same time renewing our minds (Rom 8.29) and aligning our actions with Christ and His purposes. We are commanded in Matthew 28:19 to “go and make disciples”. Going requires obedience, sacrifice, and is mindful of the needs of others. When generous disciples “get” it they also GIVE it, usually in the form of giving to missions/expanding the Kingdom. This is opposite of today’s culture of “self-generosity”. We are pleased that many of our partner churches commit at least 10% of their capital stewardship campaign proceeds toward their missions’ budget. Thus, driving the Gospel and its purpose forward into the world by being mindful of others going. Giving to missions is an outward sign of faithful stewardship.
Purpose and Vision
When sharing a meal with the homeless, supporting a teen’s summer mission trip, or setting aside college funds for your grandchildren, you are expressing faithful stewardship because you envision improved and different situations for the recipient than when you first encountered them. Romans 5.8 reveals how God demonstrates generous, forward-thinking love: “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” He understood what was required of Himself in the now to produce something beautiful later. When we establish long-term priorities, and exercise the discipline to see them accomplished, we exhibit the ability to see beyond today — something Christ regularly modeled. When we consider what legacy we want to leave we often think beyond our own lifespan. One way to reflect our purpose and vision that goes beyond our lifespan is to be intentional about changing our wills and beneficiaries. We do this so the mission and ministry of our church continues beyond our lifetime to reach future generations.
We hope you take time to consider the “big picture” and different marks of faithful stewardship. As a church leader, you may be thinking of what you can do to get started and build these among your congregation. At Impact Stewardship Resources our mission is to create a culture of faithful stewardship, which means resourcing leaders in church and ministry.
If you are a leader, clergy or laity, we recommend downloading one or more of our free whitepapers or get our email updates. As always, we welcome you to contact us if you are wanting a deeper conversation about your specific ministry goals.