The church uses the word “stewardship” to talk about the way in which we care for the things with which God has entrusted us. This word stands as a reminder that everything we have and everything that we are came first from God and belongs to Him by right. It is simply on loan to us, and we are accountable for how we use it while it is under our care.
Within the church, we often use the word “stewardship” to speak particularly of the ways in which we support the church in its mission in the world.
Often, the word “stewardship” is used to talk about money. While money is a part of who we are and what we have to offer, it is not the only part. In our tradition, we speak of Stewardship in five parts:
Prayer is our conversation with God, in which we express our desires, dreams, joys and sorrows. It is also our opportunity to listen for God’s will and guidance in our personal lives. To support the church with our prayers is to seek a life in which the mission of the church becomes a part of our joy, sorrow, hopes and dreams, and in which we seek God’s will not only for ourselves, but for the church in which we serve.
It’s not uncommon for us to speak of the vitality of a church in terms of the number of people that show up on Sunday morning. While worship attendance is an important part of our spiritual growth, this is really more about how the church supports us then about how we support the church. Supporting the church with our Presence is about making ourselves available to the church family as a support to one another and as hands and feet in the church’s mission.
Jesus talked a good deal about money, and how we should shape our attitudes about it and our use of it in Godly and compassionate ways. A vital congregation will need its members to commit their financial resources to the work at hand, funding mission and making resources available to its members for the work of ministry.
In modern society, if there is anything we have more difficulty managing than out finances, it would certainly be our time. We are always on the go, with a million things left to do. A church, however, is a family of people committed to work together towards God’s mission. This means volunteering of our time and talents to help make the world a better place.
Everything we do communicates. While it is popular to think of “witnessing” as going door to door with tracts and sharing the gospel with strangers, we should probably spend a lot more time thinking about going day to day, showing the gospel to our friends and family. People are watching. The things we show them about what we believe is important will speak far louder than the words we speak about what we believe.