Stewardship Conversations: Churches and Stewardship Ministry
This month we’re starting a series of conversations with Sid Yeomans, President of Good $ense Ministry, around stewardship and stewardship ministry. Our topic for this month is an introduction to the series focusing on how churches view and do stewardship.
G$: What in your experience are the greatest misconceptions among church leaders and members about stewardship?
Sid: Fundraising campaigns, debt reduction workshops, and having a garbage can labeled recycling are all common misconceptions of the true heart of stewardship! Also, many leaders may be surprised to know that stewardship is not about getting people to give more money to the church.
People need to know what we want for them and their families before they hear what we want from them. What we want for them is joy, peace, and freedom in an area of their life where those attributes are seldom found. A stewardship ministry should challenge us to “give careful thought to our ways” (Haggai 1:5-6) and where our heart is at, really!
Most importantly, stewardship facilitates spiritual formation by removing money as our rival god. That leads to reduced stress in the lives of individuals and opens them further to the presence of God. A stewardship ministry also provides practical tools for better management of the resources God has given us. And as an outpouring of getting stewardship right, inevitably increased giving to the church results, which provides the resources for the church to fulfill its God-given vision and to impact its community for Christ.
G$: What are some effective means that you’ve seen used to overcome those misconceptions?
Sid: Having senior church leadership fully engaged developing a culture of stewardship is invaluable. Providing content/stories/examples to pastors for use in their sermons and offering calls is helpful to pastors and starts a consistent and persistent message of stewardship. The more people are talking about stewardship the better.
The Bible contains over 2,000 verses about money and possessions. Fifteen percent of all of Jesus’ recorded words had to do with money. The church cannot neglect a topic that God considered so important and that exerts such a strong, often negative, influence on peoples’ lives and their relationship to God. The church that does not teach what the Bible says about our relationship to money is simply not teaching the whole Word of God.
Perception can often be that this is a ministry just for folks in deep financial difficulty (and who wants to admit that?). Wealthy or poor, folks often have very little knowledge of a biblical perspective on earning, giving, saving, resolving debt and living a free financial lifestyle. One can have a very large income stream yet be a very poor manager of their financial resources.
Stewardship ministry is for everyone! When a stewardship ministry succeeds in helping people understand a biblical perspective on their material resources and equips them to integrate those principles into their lives, giving will increase – sometimes dramatically; however, that is a secondary outcome of the ministry as opposed to its purpose.
G$: What does it look like for a church to do stewardship well?
Sid: If your church is on track to develop a culture of stewardship where everyone is managing their money out of an act of worship to God and are increasingly living generously serving others in their whole L.I.F.E. (labor, influence, finances, and expertise) your church is doing stewardship well!
The specific $ amounts or time spent are irrelevant but the intentions of the heart are everything! In this environment, quite possibly, the majority of folks would already be giving generously and may not have significant resources to give to a new fundraising campaign. As a culture of stewardship grows; church staff, members, and attenders are learning how to be responsible and God-honoring with the financial resources with which they have been entrusted.
A strong and mature stewardship ministry is helping to facilitate this at the church and will offer a broad range of offerings, such as courses that delve into preparing for later life, raising children to be good stewards, dealing with consumer debt, spending wisely, being prepared for one’s death, and a host of other possible topics. A strong stewardship ministry also has a trained budget couches, who can meet personally, one-on-one with folks who are attempting to change their financial behavior but need support and encouragement in doing so.
Next edition, we’ll continue this conversation by looking at common ways in which our congregation members might struggle with stewardship and how churches address these struggles.
Are there any questions you’d like to see us address in a future Stewardship Conversation? Contact us!