So often we hear the word stewardship and we think of “time, talent and treasure.” Good old T3. If you’ve been in church for any time at all, you’ve likely heard stewardship in this context. We have been ingrained to focus on those things that the church preaches and teaches during the generosity emphasis. (At least I hope the church is preaching it!)
Years ago it was impressed upon me that stewardship goes way beyond T3. You see, God owns everything we have – absolutely everything. He owns the cattle on a 1,000 hills – he owns the hills! Nothing exists that He did not bring into being. “…for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” Psalm 50:12b (NIV – emphasis mine)
Recently I had the opportunity to connect with members of the Dave Ramsey Organization, The Lampo Group. I believe strongly in what this team is about, as I personally lead his Financial Peace University classes in my church. Not only is the training excellent for those who attend, but it has been excellent for me personally as a facilitator.
Andrea and I just celebrated becoming debt-free this month! FPU has been instrumental in motivating us to that goal.
On a subsequent visit to the Lampo Group offices, Jim Sheppard, CEO of Generis, and I sat down with members of their team to discuss generosity. Here is a link to an article on the Dave Ramsey website that recaps that conversation.
We recently received the latest report card from my daughter’s high school. (She holds a 4.0 by the way – way to go, Ashley!)
Every quarter we get the grade card, and every mid-term we receive a progress report. As a former educator, I love reviewing the comments and up-to-date reports from her teachers.
It’s a barometer that reflects the status of her work, timeliness of her assignments and overall participation in class. Without these reports, it would be difficult to evaluate the state of her progress toward agreed upon goals.
I have been hearing the phrase for years now, ever since I began serving the local church. I have heard the phrase during annual stewardship programs and during capital campaigns. I have heard it every time stewardship was the sermon subject or the Bible study topic. You have heard it too. “What I give to the church is between me and God!”
I have heard this phrase so often that I used to think that somewhere in the Bible those exact words must appear. The truth is that this phrase is a phantom text similar to “God helps those who help themselves.” It is a persistent statement though and it has become part of the landscape any time money, giving, stewardship or generosity is mentioned.
Language is important part of growing generosity in our congregations. Consider the following alternative words that, if used consistently, can create a new world of giving among your membership.
Annual Ministry Plan instead of budget
Estimate of Giving Card instead of pledge card
Compassion Card instead of pledge card
Contributions instead of income
Costs of Ministry instead of expenses
Generosity instead of stewardship
Solutions (the church’s) instead of needs (the church’s)
Ministry Successes instead of budget deficits
Ministry Expansion Project instead of capital campaign
Even in trying times, generosity can flourish! Remember to thank your congregation for their faithfulness in giving to Kingdom initiatives.
Living Word Church, in Wildwood, MO engaged us for help with their annual stewardship initiative this fall. Here is news of their results, as shared by pastor Michael McIntyre:
Last week in worship, Mick Rembold, the Executive Director of “Will You Grow?” shared with us the incredible results of this campaign. So far this year we have received 274 pledge cards. Last year at this same time we had received 253 pledge cards. This represents an increase of 8% in pledges – which is VERY good. However, it gets much better! The 274 pledges we received represent an increase of $497,550 over last year – that is a 34% increase! This is nothing short of spectacular!
I really want to impress upon you how staggering these numbers truly are! Rusty shared with me that Generis considers a 15% increase to be very successful when the economy is strong. But you, the good people of Living Word, more than doubled what Generis considers to be successful; and you did it in a time when our economy is in the tank! In the words of our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) We challenged you, and asked you, “Will You Grow?” and you answered with a thunderous YES!
There can be no doubt that 2009 is going to challenge us financially, but with your faithful response to God’s call, I have no doubt that we will meet any challenge that comes our way. I am so very proud of all of you. Thank you for your commitment to Jesus.
Generosity is emerging in our society as a practice whose time has come. Bono of the rock band U2 is the spokesperson for ONE, the campaign to make poverty history. Consider Bono’s words: “God, my friends, is with the poor. And God is with us, if we are with them.”
The United Nations Millennium Campaign seeks to end the world’s extreme poverty by 2015 through the attainment of eight development goals. Religious bodies worldwide are adopting the goals as expressions of their Christian witness and service.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on being generous in Global Development, Global Health and US Education. The foundation’s value was doubled by a $31 billion gift from Warren Buffet.