Stewardship-August 2019

Have you ever noticed the subtle ceremony of receiving the offerings during the Divine Service?  The offerings are collected in plates or basket, and they are brought forward and given to the pastor or an assistant.  The pastor turns toward the altar, and, as he bows his head, offerings are raised slightly to the Lord and placed on the altar or an adjacent table. 
 
Originally, this ceremony included more than simply bringing forward what was collected in the offering plates.  The elements for the Holy Communion – the bread and the wine – were brought forward with the offerings.  The offerings and elements were lifted toward the Lord and placed upon the altar.  The altar, now made a table, would be set for the Lord’s Supper.
 
For what is offered to the Lord from the sweat of His people’s brow – the bread of anxious toil – comes back to us as the bread of life.  The bread comes down from heaven that whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup will receive life through the forgiveness of their sins.
 
What a blessing!  God provides for us in all things.  He provides bread from the sweat of our brows.  He receives this from us in the first-fruits offerings we give to Him in thanksgiving and praise, and He turns these into spiritual bread.  He gives this heavenly bread – the bread of eternal life – back to us so we might have joy.
 


Stewardship

Rev. 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” We are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth that has been promised to us in Christ. This knowledge is foundational for our stewardship of what God has put into our hands. What is truly important? What is worthy of our support? How has God called us to use our wealth for the good of our neighbor and His kingdom?
Your Stewardship Steering Team


Stewardship Allergy

Seventeen percent of children who were protected from peanut products from infancy developed a peanut allergy, but of those who were exposed to peanuts from an early age, only 3% developed an allergy.  
 
A comparison can be drawn between this phenomenon and the situation faced by steward leaders in the church.  Have steward leaders, in trying to address the antifragility in their congregations, actually made matters worse? Have they been complicit in making people allergic to a Biblical and confessional practice of stewardship?  Anecdotal evidence may well suggest that this is the case.  
 
Individuals who follow robust patterns of faithful stewardship in their lives most often come from families and congregations that exposed them to these patterns early and often in childhood.  Whether through parents or grandparents, pastors or teachers, most faithful stewards today saw that stewardship in action, conversation and proclamation.  
 
Without exposure to a creative baptismal identity, this ‘allergy” to stewardship will continue to develop throughout a child’s life, becoming so ingrained in the individual that the response to a call to stewardship will be an allergic reaction rather than baptismal obedience.  
 
Stewardship in the home and beyond  
While pastors are instrumental in preventing an allergy to stewardship, further invaluable instruction takes place in the home.  Parent and grandparents should reinforce the identity and practice of the steward on a regular basis.  Include children in the process of preparing offerings for church, teach them how to serve with their talents, and introduce them to the concept of first-fruits giving that flows from God’s radical generosity in Jesus Christ. In this way, you can provide your children with a steady diet of stewardship and ward off stewardship allergy.
 
 “The more exposure to stewardship in Word and Sacrament ministry, the greater the opportunity for this spiritual formation”
 
Stewardship as a way of Life.
Your Stewardship Steering Team
(excerpt from LCMS StewardCast)


New Testament Stewardship

How are we to support God’s work in the Church?  To find these principles, we need to look to the New Testament and how we are told to fulfill the law of love in regard to financing the Church. St. Paul says the following to the Corinthian Christians:             “On the first day of every week, each of us is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper” (1Cor. 16:2) So, in the New Testament, we are to give:
  1.  Voluntarily and cheerfully.  Giving must be done voluntarily, not under compulsion, and cheerfully, not grudgingly.
  2. Our first-fruits.  Giving should be from the first-fruits of our labor.  Our giving is what we do on the first day of the week before our other expenses come due.
  3. Proportionally.  Giving is to be proportional, “as he may prosper.”  Giving is not to be an arbitrarily set dollar amount each week, but rather it is to be in accordance with how one has prospered each week.  Thus, each of us should determine to set aside a certain proportion (percentage) of our income for the Church each week.
  4. Faithfully.  We do have the promise that God will give us what we need for this body and life.  Therefore, we should give in faith, trusting that God will provide for all our needs, though not necessarily our wants!

So, in the New Testament proportional giving also is commanded.  Stewardship as a way of Life. Your Stewardship Steering Team



Stewardship and Vocation

Christian Stewardship begins with the understanding that all we have is God’s and that “we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1Tim. 6-7).  Since all we have is God’s, we should use it for His purposes.  God’s purpose for us in our lives is expressed in the various vocations, or callings, that we have.
 
Each one of these vocations makes a claim upon us.  Luther laid out the biblical commands for our various vocations in the Table of Duties in the Small Catechism, and specifically the command for all Christians when it comes to stewardship.
 
Our vocation as a Christian and as a member of a particular Christian congregation where we receive the Word of God and His Sacraments makes a claim on us – on our presence on Sunday morning and on our support of the work of the Gospel.  Likewise, our callings in the home make a claim on us – again for presence and support.  In society at-large, our vocations are varied, but they all boil down to being a good neighbor no matter where we are: we work, we have friends, we help those in need.  In each place, we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  That means being a faithful friend and worker, a kind and generous neighbor, and so on.  Once again, this role places a claim on our presence and our support.
 
As the Post-Communion Collect has it, we hope in “faith toward (God) and in fervent love toward one another.”  This growth in the Christian life is called sanctification.  Sanctification is not “trying to get more holy,” it’s trying to get to church more often and be more supportive of the ministry.  It’s making time to actually raise your children and plan for their future by making sacrifices now.  Its allowing room in your life room to give alms to your needy neighbor and being present for your neighbor in times of need.
 
SOLAR CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Generosity – the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. A practical expression of love.  The Cheerful Giver- 2 Corinthians 9:7. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Thank you for your Cheerful giving towards our Solar Campaign. We have received $40,000 from our congregation towards paying down our Solar loan. As a member of the Stewardship Committee, thank you for giving cheerfully.


New Testament Stewardship

Faithfully Giving a First-fruit Position of Your Income for The Work of Christ’s Church.
When we speak of Stewardship, we often say that it deals with how we use our time, talents and treasures in respect to God’s Church, and that is true as far as it goes.  When Lutherans think about Stewardship, we should think in Lutheran biblical categories: Law and Gospel, vocation and sanctification.
 
Law and Gospel – The foundation of understanding the Bible and its teachings is the distinction between God’s Law and God’s Gospel.  The Law of God is the way He wants us to live by His commandments.  The Gospel is the Good News that though we can never earn God’s favor with our works, merit or worthiness, God has provided salvation for us free of charge in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 
The Ten Commandments are Law – they show us how sinful we are.  The Law helps curb outward sin.  The Law also serves as a guide to how to live a life of thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Stewardship of our finances is Law.  In the New Testament God has given us believers in Christ certain commands about how to use our finances for the work of the Church. This is our guide for how to respond to God in thanksgiving for His gifts to us.
Stewardship as a way of Life.  
Your Stewardship Steering Team


Christian Stewardship

What a name -“steward”!  Do you know its history?  The word originally was a combination of two old English words “sty” and “ward.”  A sty-ward was a keeper of the pigsty. But in the course of centuries it graduated to a loftier position, the keeper of a lord’s estate. What a history!  God found men in the grime and gutter and has elevated them in Christ to become His stewards. Surely no Christian would want to miss the glory of living such a life. Stewardship is viewed by many in our circles as a way of raising money rather than a way of life.
 
Luther defies stewardship by saying that Christ suffered and died for me in order “that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him…,”. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For me to live is Christ…He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again….  Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
 
The stewardship life of Christians is the work of the spirit through the gospel. The investment of one’s entire life for Christ, the dedication of one’s time, talent, and treasure, are so closely related.  Where people are won to give  generously of their time and ability, they are more ready to give generously of their means.
 
Stewardship as a way of Life…Your Stewardship Steering Team