Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 2

Spread the Stewardship Word, Pt. 2

In our last newsletter, we talked about the value of spreading the stewardship word through multiple communication methods available to your church. Keeping stewardship in the conscious thoughts of your congregation is a key element in battling the constant pull of the culture toward consumerism, debt, and self-interest.

But many in your congregation need more help than 140-character “sound bites” can provide. Many can benefit from a more in-depth exposure to stewardship concepts and practices, as well as tools they can use to help them manage their finances on the way toward financial freedom.

Good $ense and other financial ministries have much to offer in the area of proven instruction and practical tools. From general financial principles to specifics about getting and staying out of debt, raising children as good stewards, or planning for retirement, help is available for your congregation on a number of stewardship-related topics.

You might be surprised how few in your congregation have likely had any systematic training with regard to finances and stewardship. Why not check out the Good Sense Resources page today and see if some of the training there would be of benefit to your church?


Stewardship Transformation pt. 2: Completing the Past

Stewardship Transformation pt. 2: Completing the Past

“Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” So goes the proverb, and it applies to our finances as well as to any area of life. If we’re honest, we probably can think of many financial paths we’ve taken and decisions we’ve made that we would make differently if we had the opportunity.

Most of us probably thought we’d be in a better place than we are today financially. Maybe we had hoped we would be giving more, saving more, or be out of debt. But things came up, opportunities didn’t materialize, the market didn’t do what we had hoped for, we made bad decisions, etc.

One of the keys to greater success in stewardship (or any area of life) in the future is to reckon honestly with the past, a process that Michael Hyatt refers to as “Completing the Past”. This four-step process can prepare us for a more intentional, more focused future. We’ll take a look at one way to apply this process to our stewardship.

 

State where you wanted to be.

This could be in terms of what you wanted to accomplish in the last year (or other period of time), or where you hoped you would be right now. Did you hope to save $10,000 last year? Did you expect to be out of debt at this point? Did you think you would be giving a certain percentage of your income by this point?

Be honest with yourself on this one. Maybe you didn’t actually sit down and write out a budget last year, but you probably had some idea in mind of where you hoped to be financially. Write down what comes to mind, whether they were intentional goals from the previous year or just a picture of where you hoped you would be.

 

Acknowledge what actually happened.

Did you meet your goals? Candidly evaluate where you are against where you hoped to be. Where did you succeed? Where did you fall short? Understanding both of these is key to moving forward.

 

Learn from the experience.

Identify the contributing factors to your successes and failures? Ask some key questions about the previous year (or whatever period), like:

  1. Did you fully understand your goals?
  2. Were these the right goals in the first place?
  3. Did you regularly check in with your goals to monitor progress?
  4. What did you accomplish that you’re most proud of?
  5. What disappointments or regrets do you have?
  6. What was missing?
  7. What mistakes did you make?

 

Adjust your behavior accordingly.

All of these steps should be done prayerfully, of course, but perhaps this one most of all. To the extent that you didn’t meet your goals,

  1. Is there anything you need to confess before God?
  2. Where do you need to ask for wisdom?
  3. Are there areas in which you need God to work in your heart?

And in those areas where you succeeded,

  1. What do you need to thank God for?
  2. How should you respond to God’s provision?

Remember this from our previous newsletter: The past does not determine the future.  If your past hasn’t brought you to where you believe God wants you to be in stewardship, don’t get discouraged – instead, learn and grow from it and trust God for your future!

If this exercise was difficult because you didn’t have any written goals from last year, then that’s a great starting point for the coming year. In fact, that will be the subject of this column in our next newsletter!


Stones of Remembrance

Truths That Transform: Stones of Remembrance

Remembering the past, and especially recalling what God has done, can provide a great framework for moving into our futures. Scripture is full of occasions where God commanded his people to remember what had gone before.

God gave the Sabbath commandment as a reminder to the people that He was the creator (Exodus 20:8-11). In fact, the 10 commandments were so important for the people to remember that God Himself wrote them on stone tablets, to be kept in a special ark and go with the people as they traveled. In Numbers 15:37-41 God gave the Israelites instructions to put tassels on their garments as a way of remembering His commands and His deliverance.

In Joshua 4:1-9, God commanded Joshua to have a leader from each of the tribes of Israel take a stone from the middle of the Jordan and place it up on shore, to commemorate His deliverance of the people and bringing them into the Promised Land. He told them, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” These stones were to be a lasting remembrance for generations to come.

God gave to the Israelites the feast of Passover as a reminder of His deliverance from Egypt, and Jesus gave us the rite of communion as a reminder of His body and blood, given for us. Over and over again, Scripture tells us to remember what God has done.

We celebrate many remembrances throughout our lives – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. But sometimes we can benefit from reminders of specific things that God has done for us. What has God done for you in the past year that you want to remember, and to be able to recount to others? Did he provide a new job for you, enabling you to honor him with work and also to provide for yourself and others? Did he bring you to a financial milestone, like maybe retiring debt?

My wife and I were part of the founding of a regional satellite of Willow Creek church. In the early days, our leadership (recognizing the importance of these remembrances) occasionally gave out different items of remembrance – a foam “brick” that reminded us that we all had a part of building God’s house; a key to help us remember all the “doors” in our city that represented families far from God; and several other items. Trinkets, really, but I kept all of them and have them in a box that sits on a shelf in my office.

Last year, God moved through a series of events to pull off something I would have thought impossible – a move to a different state while retaining my job (including the renovation and sale of our house and a number of other events). This year, through his financial provision, we are finally debt-free after 26 years of marriage. I’m still trying to figure out how best to memorialize these two momentous occasions for us.

How about you? What will you do to remember – and to recount – what God has done in your life, in stewardship or in other areas? These things become part of your testimony to his grace and provision, and they can make a great difference in your witness for Him as you recall them and give Him glory.

 

 


Jack and Jill Stewardship

April 2017 Good $ense Newsletter: Jack and Jill Stewardship

Dear Good $ense Friends,

In his book New Way to be Human, Charlie Peacock points out that most of us, when asked what the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill is about, would probably say it’s about two people traveling to get water and having an accident. He then asks, what if “Jack and Jill” is also about the partnership of loved ones in the day-to-day needs of life? Or about the admission of human need (water), and how, in this world, meeting needs is often very difficult, and dangerous work? Or…. and he spins out several other meanings that the rhyme could be interpreted to be about.

What struck me was that in a similar fashion many people look at financial stewardship in much too simplistic a way. We boil down this incredibly complex and spiritually significant subject to just being about money and about giving or not giving a certain amount back to God.

Jack and Jill,
Got a ten dollar bill,
And God got back a dollar
They got much more
And went to the store
And God’s part got much smaller.

Yes, that rhyme could be just about Jack and Jill giving less to God as a percentage of their income as income went up. But might it also be about very deep and fundamental changes that occurred within Jack and Jill as their wealth grew? And about the forces that caused those changes? And about their relationship to God as their giving back to Him changed? And about their relationship to each other as their material wealth grew?

What you and I as stewardship leaders must do for those to whom we minister is help them remove the blinders from their eyes and see that their relationship to and understanding of money touches on every significant aspect of their lives.

I’ve said it many times — allow me to do so again. Life is all about relationships — to God, to others and to self. Our relationship to our money and “stuff” can either enhance or literally destroy those other relationships.

In your efforts as stewardship leaders, keep the higher objectives in focus. Getting out of debt, becoming more generous, setting aside for the unexpected are key goals but ultimately need to be indicators of a deeper heart change. It’s why the byline for Good $ense is, “Transforming Finances, Transforming Lives.”

God bless and empower your efforts, and Easter joy to you and yours!

Also, consider joining us this year at our annual Good $ense Movement Vision Night Dinner for fabulous food and drink, fellowship, and encouragement as we continue together along this journey called stewardship.  Before the venue is full, you can register here: http://goodsensemovement.org/events/2017-annual-vision-night/

 

Sid Yeomans
President, Good $ense Movement
Transforming Finances, Transforming Lives

 


Stories of Transformation