What we want for our congregations

“People need to know what we want for them and their families before they hear what we want from them.” This quote from Sid Yeomans, President of Good Sense, summarizes one of the keys of successful stewardship ministry.  Stewardship ministry must focus on serving our congregations rather than on getting them to put more in the offering plate.  Increased giving may often result from an effective stewardship ministry, but if this becomes the goal, the ministry will be perceived as self-serving rather than as serving the congregation.  This will create barriers to adoption of Biblical financial principles.

Servant leadership is a repeated theme of Scripture.  Jesus said about himself, “Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45)  He called the disciples to serve one another at the Last Supper (John 13).  Similarly, churches need to see a stewardship ministry (including teaching on stewardship) in the context of servanthood.

Serving our Congregations

Too often, believers respond negatively to any teaching on stewardship because of a perception that the real reason for the teaching is a self-serving need on the part of the church.  Stewardship teaching focused solely (or even primarily) on giving validates this perception in their eyes.

To combat this perception and to gain real value from stewardship teaching, churches must teach stewardship as a part of discipleship.  Stewardship is about more than just what goes in the offering plate; if God is truly the owner of all things, then every financial decision we make is a stewardship decision. Churches and pastors must equip their congregations to live out stewardship  as a part of God’s plan for their lives.  Consider: It does no good to preach about giving to a congregation where most of the people are in debt.  But paint a picture of financial freedom based on Biblical stewardship, and equip people to live out Biblical financial principles, and giving will tend to take care of itself.

By focusing stewardship teaching on serving and equipping their congregations, rather than on meeting church budgets, we will create disciples who honor God with all of their finances.  We will replace guilt-inducing exhortation with hope-inspiring principles.  We will empower our congregations toward the financial freedom that God wants for his people.