August 3, 2018

The “Why” of Stewardship Ministry

There are many good reasons for our churches to have intentional stewardship ministries.  As we think about the upcoming start of the new ministry season, it can be helpful to remember why we’re doing this in the first place.  The “why” can keep us going when the obstacles loom large.

Stewardship honors God.  When members of our congregations practice Biblical stewardship, they honor God as their Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.  They acknowledge God and the advancement of his Kingdom as of greater value than worldly treasure.  When we consider that the main idol of our day is worldly treasure and momentary pleasure, stewardship leads us to worship a different God – one who loves us for all eternity.

Stewardship reminds us of Christ’s return.  Is there a greater hope in all the Bible than the hope of Christ’s return and our eternity with him?  When we look at many of the parables that Jesus taught about stewardship, we see a consistent pattern – the pattern of an owner entrusting his resources to his servants and going away for a time, only to return later and call his servants to account for those resources.  The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27) is probably the best example, but echoes of this same theme can be found in the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19).

Stewardship guards our hearts.  Jesus tells us that our hearts will follow where our treasure leads (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:34).  Stewardship teaches us to put our treasure in heaven; the act of putting our treasure there rather than here on earth guides our hearts to value eternity more than this life.  Stewardship reminds us that we are “aliens and strangers” on earth and that our real home is with Jesus in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16) and helps us to fix our minds and hearts on things above rather than on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2).

Stewardship paves the way for life transformation and discovery of God’s will.  Because stewardship helps us focus our thoughts on God rather than on the things of this life, it is a key element of the transformation that results from not conforming to the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2). Consider the believer whose heart is still caught up in the things of the world.  Will such a person be in a position to discern God’s will when it comes to buying the nicer car or the less expensive but adequate one?  Will he be able to hear the Holy Spirit’s prompting in key financial decisions like what house to buy?

Stewardship enables us to seek first God’s kingdom.  It’s no accident that Jesus called his disciples to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness in the context of where we locate our treasures and what consumes our thoughts (Matthew 6:19-33).

Stewardship creates a “spiral” of worship and obedience.  When we say to money, “You’re not the most important thing in my life”, we’re freed up to acknowledge that God in fact occupies the place of supreme importance.  We worship him not only with our finances but with our time, our hearts, our energy.  As we store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we learn to seek first God’s kingdom.  And this very growth spurs us on to greater and more intentional stewardship in a pattern that spirals upward (or, spirals downward where stewardship is lacking).

For all these and so many more reasons, stewardship ministry is a key – even foundational – component of discipleship in our churches.  It might not get the limelight like a great worship band or a cool student program, but stewardship ministry (whatever form it takes) can make a major difference between a church that is seeking God wholeheartedly and producing life transformation and a church that simply runs programs for consumers.

Stewardship leader, be of strong heart!  The work you do – though it may not be appreciated and may even sometimes be seen as a distraction from other “more important” programs – matters greatly in the lives of your congregation and the strength of your church.  Because of this, Satan will do anything to disrupt or stall your work.  Don’t allow him to discourage you!  Pray through the barriers and any resistance you encounter.  The eternal results are worth it.