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Stewardship 101

by Deborah Rexrode

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to God’s service, you could not give God anything that was not in a sense God’s own already.
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

For us as Christians, all that we have and all that we are belongs to God. So then what does stewardship look like in our lives today? How do we define stewardship?

Too often stewardship means the Annual Stewardship Campaign. It means filling out a pledge card to make a commitment to the annual budget of the church where we are a member. In some cases, the definition has been broadened to include a commitment of our time and talents so that we don’t put all our focus on money.

As we begin a month of reflections on stewardship, it seems the best place to begin is to ask, “What do the scriptures tell us about stewardship?” I share these biblical principles of stewardship for you to begin to broaden your definition of stewardship:

Ownership – Let’s begin with the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…” God created everything! In Psalm 24 we read, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” God is not only the creator but also the owner of everything. The biblical teaching is not that God created everything and then handed ownership off to us or someone else. God still owns all that is.

Responsibility – Once we acknowledge that what we have is God’s, the question becomes: “What would God have me do with all of this?” As God’s stewards, we are responsible to care for all that God has graciously entrusted to us. “Who then is the faithful and wise steward…?” (Luke 12:42) A steward is a person who cares for something that belongs to someone else. The steward is not the owner, but instead manages that which belongs to another. All that surrounds us in this life belongs to God, and we have been given the privilege to manage and care for some of it as we travel through life.

Accountability – One day each one of us will be called to give an account of how we have managed what God has given us. In 1 Peter we read, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:10) As God’s people, we are called to live and give generously, especially to help those in need. We are called to give first to God and God’s work, to give regularly, and yes, to give cheerfully. The Bible tells us that what we do with our money and possessions impacts our faith. We are called to be accountable for what God has entrusted into our care.

Reward – Stewardship is the way we use the abundance that God has entrusted to our care to love God and our neighbor. Stewardship is more than money, offering plates, and pledges. As the master said to the servants to whom he gave five talents and two talents, “Well done, good and faithful servants! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” (Matthew 25:21) They used what they had been asked to manage and multiplied it for the good of the master and his kingdom.

Stewardship goes beyond the church budget or building project and connects everything we do with what God is doing in the world. Stewardship is a way of life. It is one of the primary ways that we live out our identity in Christ. We are called to be faithful stewards in all that God is calling us to do. It is being open to the opportunities and challenges that God places in our lives and serving with faith and joy.

Stewardship is a spiritual practice that allows us to live out the belief that all we have and all that we are belongs to God. Stewardship is our gifts of time, relationship, worship, thanksgiving, prayer, service, and material possessions. It is a way of living that includes giving.


Deborah Rexrode serves as the Associate for Stewardship with the Presbytery of the James. She is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and brings to the presbytery a background of research, study, and application of the theological understanding of stewardship and the importance of ongoing stewardship education in our congregations. She provides consultation to pastors, sessions, and stewardship committees with stewardship campaigns, capital campaigns, and planned giving. Deborah has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Religion from the University of Virginia. Her research and doctoral dissertation focused on stewardship and the role of clergy in providing strong financial leadership in their congregations.

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Moving Forward as NEXT Church

Friend,

We are living through a time of significant change in Christianity in the United States. This is not a surprise to you. The systems and strategies we have inherited are no longer working; digital communications have connected us in unprecedented ways but also left us more isolated than ever. And our recent elections have clearly revealed the division and disconnection in our country. This is a time in which we need a strong relational fabric within our church so that our congregations are strong and healthy enough to be a sustained, effective, and moral voice that is engaged in the transformation of our communities.

NEXT Church plays an important role in the PC(USA) as we move into the future while holding onto the best of our Reformed tradition. Over seven years we have grown from a conversation to a movement that is known in the denomination for creating a new kind of connection.

Here’s how.

Over the last seven years, NEXT Church has hosted six national gatherings, with almost 3,000 people in attendance and another 3,000 who have joined us online. These gatherings create space to build bridges, to learn from one another, and to discover God’s transformative power at work. We are looking forward to our 2017 National Gathering, March 13-15 in Kansas City, where we will explore Wells & Walls: Well-Being in a Thirsty World.

We are working hard to support the next generation of pastors by partnering with the Board of Pensions to develop a website and partnered widely to offer Trent@Montreat, a conference to work closely with new pastors on their practice of ministry.

In the winter of 2016, we held a denomination-wide listening campaign to talk about transformational mission, which modeled for the church a new way to come together. We have received grant funds to explore accountability in leadership and how we assess the faithfulness and success of ministry. We are excited to begin sharing the fruit of this learning at the 2017 National Gathering.

Going forward, we see our work coalescing in three main areas – leadership development, equipping and strengthening congregations, and engaging in systemic work to strengthen our denominational connections.

We are able to do this work because of the generosity of 30 congregations and 74 individuals who have supported our lean operating budget of $160,000. We need you to join in offering that financial support so that this important work of moving forward as a church, in hope, can continue. Please consider making a gift today.

You can do so online or by sending a check payable to “Village Church” with “NEXT Church” in the memo line to:
Village Church
6641 Mission Road
Prairie Village, KS, 66208

Together, we can move into God’s future in hope and with confidence.

Thank you for being part of what’s NEXT!

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Jessica Tate
Director, NEXT Church