Three Gifts

Fear, faith and stewardship.  Three things that go together. And it isn’t because you can have faith that any talk of stewardship will create fear in the hearers!  These three seemingly unique topics go together because they flow from the same source – the Lord Himself.

Created by God, the steward is accountable.  This accountability was originally without fear.  The steward worked and kept (GEN. 2:15) the creation called into existence by the Lord.  That arrangement lasted until sin came into the equation and fear of the Lord.

Until Jesus!  When the simple gift of Jesus is offered in the babe of Bethlehem and the Christ of the cross, fear gives way to faith.  Jesus took accountability for our failed stewardship and we were restored. Baptized into Christ, the Holy Spirit creates faith which leads to a restoration of faithful stewardship.  Set on this new path the steward’s accountability is balanced between fear and faith.  We know that we are accountable to live and work for the Lord.  When we succeed, it is to God’s credit.  When we fail, our faith in Christ leads us to confession and absolution, which once again sets us on the path of faithful stewardship.

The use of God’s simple gifts is captured in the words of the psalmist.  Fear of the Lord leads to work.  Work leads to blessing.  Faith sees this blessing as a gift from God.  The baptized steward sees this and clearly confesses that it is indeed well with us. May the Lord lead us to this triune stewardship of His simple gifts!

Prayer: Lord as Your stewards, we work in fear of our shortcomings and sin, in faith in Christ’s redemption and restoration and eager desire to serve as faithful stewards of Your simple gifts.  Lead us by grace through faith to see, rejoice and serve in this faithful stewardship!  As You have blessed us with Your work in Jesus, may our work as stewards be a blessing to others. Amen.
Noreen Wenstone, Stewardship Chairperson

Encouraging Stewards Through Stories

In the midst of this very difficult time, great stories of stewardship have arisen.  Individuals and congregations have stepped up in supporting their neighbors because the Lord has placed them in the community to serve.   Such as the work the Evangelism team has been doing, providing meals to the Police Dept., Fire Dept., Senior community, etc.  Please continue to support the Evangelism team. 

Neighbors and business owners have made internet access available to families that are struggling to meet the challenge of virtual learning.  There have been people who have become even more generous toward their local congregation, the district mission or the work of the Synod simply because they are aware of the great need to be a light for the Gospel in this time of lingering darkness and despair.

Individual stewards can be creative in the ways in which they share the gifts that have been entrusted to them.  This creativity is really the mark of a faithful steward – assessing what the Lord has given in trust to them and asking how these trusts can be used for the benefit of the neighbor and the glory of God.

Open up to the great joys of serving as stewards in the much smaller settings of family, neighborhood and congregation.  These are just as much stewardship of the Gospel as is writing the check or making the online contribution.

Noreen E. Wenstone

Stewardship Chairperson

Year Round Stewardship

“Stewardship” emphasis is about vocation and serving the people around you according to the roles God has given you in life.

An understanding of stewardship is broader than dealing only with money.  Stewardship Is about using all that God has given to us according to the vocations that He has placed us in.

The wider view of looking at stewardship through vocation not only includes finances but also managing our time, gifts, skills and whatever else the Lord has given us.

When stewardship is the only aspect of vocation that is ever mentioned, and then it is only at budget planning time, the people understandably connect stewardship with money and never develop a mature attitude toward their vocations.  Planning a year-round stewardship and vocation emphasis can help you mature as stewards of God’s varied grace in every area of life.

Put Vocation in First Place

The famous or infamous three T’s of stewardship pretty well knows:  time, talent and treasure.  If we wanted to, we could think of many other “T’s of stewardship” (tissue – the care of our bodies; trash – the care of God’s creation; team – our working together with others in all settings; tune – using our voices and musical abilities to bless others).  It’s all in the Lutheran Doctrine of Vocation.

The word vocation means ‘calling’, God’s calling, God calls us through Baptism to be His Christians.  Through marriage, God calls us to be husbands and wives.  If the Lord blesses us with children, He calls us to be parents.  Each of these callings, these vocations, calls us to service.  God runs the world by using men and women as His instruments.  God blesses children by giving them faithful parents to raise them.  God blesses the whole world through the work of His Church – a work that all the baptized have a role in.

You can see how it relates to the financial aspect of stewardship.  Each of our vocations has a claim on us – every part of us:  our time, our money, our prayers, our concern and so on.  A father who gave away his whole income to the church would not be a faithful father.  His vocation as father means that he must use that income to raise his kids.  Likewise, a Christian who gives but a pittance toward the Word and Sacrament ministry of the church is being unfaithful in his vocation as Christian. That vocation also has a claim on his generosity.

Noreen E. Wenstone

Stewardship Chairperson

Stewardship for Retirees

“Let the young people do it”
People giving this and similar responses have already filled most of the available offices and served on many committees and boards at least once.
There is a pretty strong case for the fact that those who have borne the task for a long time are entitled to step back a bit.  Retirees, even the oldest members of the congregation, can be excellent examples of every aspect of stewardship to younger generations as they continue to involve themselves appropriately.
Retirement?  What’s that?
  • For centuries, people worked until they died.
  • With Social Security, retirement became a new phenomenon.
  • By 1970’s, we looked forward to the ‘Golden Years’ you retire to play.
  • By 1990, you retire not only to play, but to learn, volunteer, travel or work part-time.

Observations related to retired stewards

  1. Retirees can serve as models of mature stewardship for the next generation(s) to emulate.  These “seasoned citizens” have been blessed to be a blessing but their involvement in all aspects of stewardship needs to match their personal situations.
  2. Retiree have spent their lifetime developing skills and learning trades that can benefit the congregation
  3. Retirees can be a blessing as they stay active and enjoy the extended years that come through God’s blessing.
  4. Retirees may need to be invited by their congregations to serve according to their gifts.
  5. Retirees who deal with declining abilities can still serve the Lord and need to be encouraged to do so. They rejoice in being able to serve the Lord as valuable parts of the body of Christ.

If you are a retiree of our congregation, and would like to participate in a specific area of our church, i.e. Growth Groups, Service Groups, Fellowship Groups, etc., please don’t hesitate to note your interest on the Connection Card or call the church office 760-431-8990. 
Next week:  Year-Round Stewardship
Noreen Wenstone, Stewardship Chairperson

Comprehensive Approach to Stewardship

Any long-term approach to Christian stewardship must be grace-based, year-round, whole life, hands-on and intergenerational while respecting generational diversity.  The goal is to raise people not just money.  We often attempt to touch multiple aspects of stewardship in a single annual campaign or emphasis.  Stewardship is not just asking for a monetary commitment.  Stewardship is also asking for prayers, regular worship and time and talents.

When it comes to stewardship for adults, one size does not fit all.  It might seem like a lot of time and trouble, but we must try to diversify our approach to stewardship in our congregation’s life.  If we don’t, we will miss out on creating generous stewards in all but the most senior generations.  We will miss out on the gifts that succeeding generations can bring to the table in church life and stewardship. We will miss the joy of seeing people grow in generosity of all God has given.

Please help our congregation and step forward with any suggestions you might have that will help your generation become faithful stewards.

Next week:  Stewardship for Retirees

Stewardship vs. Generosity

The stress on Stewardship may be in tension with the virtue of Generosity.

One way in which this may show itself is in a contrast between carefulness and liberality, or the virtue of frugality versus the virtue of generosity.

Theologically we must ask whether we are most fundamentally administrators or givers. That depends on whether we have much that is ours to give and at the bottom of that is a question about God’s grace. Does God only lend to us or employ us? Or does God actually give to us?

Certainly, there is value in both models of our relationship to God and they are not to be seen as exclusive. (cf. Luther’s Explanation of the First Article) The Bible makes use of both. We are God’s servants; Christ is our Lord. We are to think of ourselves as stewards responsible to God. Nonetheless, the center of the New Testament message also affirms the reason we have something to give is because it has actually been given to us by God.  We are not only servants; Jesus says to His disciples.  “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15 ESV) And according to Paul, the Christian is no longer a slave but a child of God, and hence an heir (Gal. 3:26-4:7)

Generosity of time, skills and money, as well as stewardship of resources follows a pattern:

  • It is a learned or conditioned response. It must be carefully taught, modeled and explained.
  • It is motivated by our Christian faith.
  • It is shaped by life experience. It is never too late to shape life experiences.  All members should experience helping others, to become involved in hands-on mission, to participate in intergenerational experiences and to see how their gifts of time, skills and money can transform the lives of others are major influences in helping people to grow in stewardship and generosity.
  • It is influenced by the witness and experience of others. Intergenerational experiences to work side-by-side with hands-on projects.
Next Week:  Comprehensive Approach to Stewardship for Adults
Noreen Wenstone, Stewardship Chairperson

Adults Differ in Understanding Stewardship

Stewardship education is a necessity for all the adults of our congregations, but certain approaches to the subject, all of which have biblical roots, may have greater appeal to one generation or another.  Two common models in use today are the “stewardship” model which has dominated most literature on the subject for decades, and the “generosity” model, which is more popular.

The “stewardship” model tends to those in the Civic and Adaptive generations: (Silent, Builder an Gen. Y)

                Civic – born between 1901-1928 and 1984-2002

                Adaptive – born between 1929-1945

They fit an organizational or industrial model of society in which there are owners, managers and accountability for resources.    While not neglecting God’s grace in Jesus Christ, this model often starts with the sovereignty of God, declaring in no uncertain term that God is the Owner of all things and that we are but managers or stewards of those things.  We have a duty and responsibility to be faithful in management of those resources.

The “generosity” model tends to appeal to those in the Idealist and Reactive generations (Boomers and Gen. X):

                Idealist – born between 1946-1964

                Reactive – born between 1965-1983

They fit a more relational and collaborative model of society (e.g., the Body of Christ) in which people operate as team players in God’s mission not out of duty, but out of commitment to a cause for which they are willing to make sacrifices.  The generosity model starts not with the sovereignty of God but with the grace of God, who is not simply the Owner but the Giver of all things. A generous person is one who gives of himself and his resources, and who does so freely and not out of a sense of compulsion.  He sees it as a meaningful and joyful expression of who he is and who he wants to be and of what and whom he cares about.  Christian generosity is an expression of Christian liberty.  “Generosity is possible for Christians because the freedom of the Gospel makes a space for love in which there are good things to do that we don’t have to do.”

Next week:  Stewardship vs Generosity

God Bless you all, Noreen E. Wenstone

Stewardship Chairperson

The Role of the Parent

What does the Bible say about the role of parents?

  1. Parents have the key role in providing spiritual directions and care for their children
  2. The purpose of spiritual training is to raise faithful, loving children.
  3. Spiritual development is a lifelong, continual process.
  4. Parents must rely upon God’s grace and power to impact spiritual development, they should therefore pray for God’s help.
  5. The Bible is the basis of our stewardship training.
  6. The spiritual teaching of children will be nurtured and celebrated by the church.

Essential Elements to Teach Children

  • God owns all things; we own nothing.  God owns us twice because He both created and redeemed us.
  • We are stewards (managers) under God of all we are and have and do.  Everything we have is given to us by God as a trust to use for His purposes.
  • We are accountable and responsible to God for all He entrusts to our care.

Ways Parents Can Encourage Stewardship Development at Home

  • Be faithful stewards: lead by example!
  • Pray daily with children.  Include prayers for growth in stewardship and prayers of thanksgiving for everything the children have.
  • Use a family devotion book to get the family involved in a discussion, game or activity centered on a biblical stewardship principle.
  • Memorize a Bible verse together each week.
  • Create and implement a means for children to distribute their allowances proportionately for giving, saving and investing.
  • Use opportunities to show love and appreciation for life, the environment, money, etc.
  • Read Scripture together.

What Should Be Taught About Money

  1. It is not our money.  It all comes from God.
  2. We are not entitled to it but we are entrusted with it.
  3. God expects us to use it in the interest of His kingdom.
  4. The tithe is the biblical standard of generosity.

Parents can use the giving of an allowance to teach tithing, saving and investing to children.  According to the book of Leviticus, the first 10 percent of our income is to be offered to God.  If God required this of His Old Testament people, how can His New Testament be less generous.

Noreen Wenstone, Stewardship Chairperson

Middle School

Middle school children are capable of logical reasoning. They have more complex attitudes and skills. Relationships become extremely important. Positive role modeling is critical at this age. Our purpose should be to provide a healthy, loving environment. This environment should reinforce a sense of trust and independence and recognize the child’s need for self-awareness self-confidence, self-expression and self-appreciation. Children feel empowered when they view themselves as significant human beings and perceive that others see them that way, too. Kids of this age, if given an allowance, could be encouraged to use percentage giving as an expression of their gratitude to God.
Research reinforces the profound truth that if you want to have a lasting influence upon the world, you must invest in people’s lives while they are young. Lifelong habits, values, beliefs and attitudes are formed before the age of 13. A stewardship principle that could be nurtured by this age is one of regular, weekly giving.
Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions.
If you connect with children today, effectively teaching them biblical principles and foundations from the start, then you will see the fruit of that effort blossoms for decades to come. The more diligent we are in these efforts the more prodigious a harvest we will reap. Alternatively, the more lackadaisical we choose to be in our effort to raise children as moral and spiritual champions, the less healthy the church and society will be.
Next Week’s Article: The Role of the Parent
God Bless you!
Thank you for supporting Redeemer by The Sea
Stewardship Chairperson

Understanding Children

He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV)

It’s not easy being a child in today’s 24/7 world. While the word is becoming more complex, children maintain the same basic needs as they have for decades: to be loved and trusted, to feel safe and to have a purposeful life.

We know that the adults children will someday become are the end result of the thousands of times they received comfort when they cried as infants, learned to play with others as they got older, were spiritually nurtured by caregivers, and were shown that they were loved and valued.

Children have 50 percent of their intelligence by age 4. By age 8, 80 percent of their intelligence will be in place. Preschoolers are in the pre-operational stage of life. Children at this age think in concrete terms. We can teach them that all good things come from God and that He wants us to take care of them.

Over time children start making connections as they begin forming a foundation for their faith. Those early years are important for determining the child’s later religious attitudes. Children in the 5-7 age range begin to understand things outside their immediate surroundings and have knowledge of cause and effect. They can begin to deal with the subject of money. As children grow, their knowledge and intellectual capacity expands.

Next Week’s article: Middle School
God Bless you!
Thank you for supporting Redeemer by The Sea,
Noreen Wenstone, Stewardship Chairperson