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Preaching Themes for Stewardship

Ramp provides a compilation of stewardship preaching themes of his own as well as from other sources. You Belong to God A. God has a double claim on us. We belong to God in two ways: God created us (in His image) and we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, God has a double claim upon
by Center for Stewardship Leaders | April 10, 2002

Ramp provides a compilation of stewardship preaching themes of his own as well as from other sources.

You Belong to God

A. God has a double claim on us. We belong to God in two ways: God created us (in His image) and we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19). Therefore, God has a double claim upon every human being.

B. Do you know what a blessing this is? Consider if it were otherwise.

C. Those that realize God’s love are bound to respond in gratitude. His love has awakened in us love in return. We love him, because he first loved us.


Money Follows Ministry

See Luke 9:1-9.

Jesus sent them out with nothing because he knew that their work would generate all the money necessary.  


Christian Stewardship is the Practice of the Christian Religion

It is NOT a self contained compartment.

It is NOT a specialized activity.

It is NOT primarily concerned with money or finances.

It IS the Christian understanding of life as a whole, a living and lived-out faith.


The Theological Basis for Christian stewardship.
Adapted from Kola Isaiah, Stewardship and Stewards
(Madras, India: United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, 1982).

1. Christian stewardship IS a response of faith.

2. The motive is love and gratitude to God.

3. The purpose is to glorify God through the salvation of souls.

4. The guide is the revealed will of God.

5. The measure of stewardship is ability, emulating the sacrificial spirit of Christ.

6. The efficient cause is not our own will but the power of God’s Grace within us.

7. The reward is a good conscience and the anticipated well done of the Lord.


The Character of a Steward

1. What is a steward?
(See Douglas John Hall’s book, “The Steward: A Biblical Symbol Come of Age”)

2. To become a steward of God is the highest honor. See Ephesians 3:2; 1 Cor. 4:1-2.

3. We are not servants, but sons and heirs. See John 15:14.

4. Let’s act like it.


The Difference Between Fundraising and Stewardship
I got the general idea from Dean Hoge, et al., Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1996), pp.143-45.

A. Fundraising is an honorable secular profession. It refers to a process of asking donors for contributions to a worthy cause. The solicitor typically communicates the good deeds, strategic plans and effectiveness of the organization, describes specific needs or budgetary issues and asks for a gift. This is very appropriate for Red Cross, United Way, etc. Fundraising raises money. Stewardship raises people.

B. Stewardship is biblical. It grows out of our relationship with God as creator, redeemer (hence, owner!), sustainer (provider, comforter, faithful parent).

C. Stewardship is best captured in the parables of Jesus. The steward is not the owner but the manager, accountable to the master and responsible for promoting the master’s welfare (and not his own). Stewardship involves more than money and is not motivated by a desire for blessings or appreciation. It includes the use of time, talent, treasure and management of personal, corporate and global resources. We’re in charge of the earth until Christ returns!

D. Friends, you have a choice. You can look on this as fund raising, in which case you will probably give modestly to a very good cause (my salary, the secretary’s salary, the youth director’s salary, etc.); or you can understand yourself not as a donor but as a steward of the Most High King.


Eleven Motivations for Giving

1. Giving is a duty. God’s law required it, Jesus endorsed it, love demands it. When you belong to a club you are expected to pay dues.

2. Guilt or fear: I have more than I need. I really should share it. Often accompanied by: If I don’t pay up, something bad may happen to me, a version of “pay me now or pay me later.”

3. Reciprocity, e.g., lavish dinners at the Playboy Mansion for politicians. Money provides access. Quid Pro Quo. Sen. Robert Torricelli sends out a memo and Senators are supposed to show up. If I give to God, God will bless me. Mal. 3:10 is often used to support putting God to the test.

4. Self-interest, e.g., a desire to please or not to disappoint those who ask for gifts – peer pressure, public relations (or desire to avoid negative publicity).

5. Giving to extensions of self. When I give to my spouse or children it’s really an extension of me. Likewise, when I support my church family or my alma mater I am really shifting it to my extended family. When I “adopt” a cause I want to support my “child.”

6. Desire to help others in great need. I feel touched by the sight of starving children who need medical help. I can alleviate pain and want to do so. Ken Callahan says most grass-roots Christians and unchurched people give reasons of compassion (helping others) and community (see below).

7. Investing in worthy causes. Sometimes it pleases me to support worthy causes that will outlive me, e.g., saving the rain forests, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Christian ed.

8. Giving to the community of faith. I enjoy being part of this faith community. I want to support it and see it grow. Ken Callahan says this is the second main motivation for many people’s stewardship. The leadership often thinks in terms of challenge and commitment but those in the grass roots section think compassion and community.

9. Giving to support the institutional budget. The church needs a 4% increase so I’ll pony up an additional 4% this year. This is a REASONABLE request and I will support it.

10. Giving is a natural response of a thankful heart. I’ve been blessed. I want to give back (generally not to specific need). How do you respond to love? You respond to love in generous ways. This is giving from COMMITMENT in Callahan’s schema.

11. As a steward, I don’t “give” anything. Rather, I allocate my Master’s resources in a way that bears witness and furthers the Master’s mission in the world.


Growing Generous People: Stewardship as Training Christians

The leading study of five denominations concludes: “Stewardship must take the long view. Stewardship of time, talent, and money is a lifelong matter, to be cultivated in Christian education and prayerfully considered year by year.

“There is no room for one-shot stewardship efforts that harp on crises, either real or fabricated, or that make statements that cannot be supported over the long haul.

“For this reason, we do not favor stewardship programs that have only an immediate focus, and we distrust appeals by TV preachers who, unlike a local pastor, do not need to maintain the trust of their flocks year after year.” Dean Hoge, et al., Money Matters: Personal Giving in American Churches (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1996), p 168.


Money Follows Ministry

See Luke 9:1-9.

Jesus sent them out with nothing because he knew that their work would generate all the money necessary.


What Kind of Church Are We?

Lyle Schaller divides churches into two main camps:

A. High-expectation churches and voluntary associations
See Lyle Schaller, Activating the Passive Church: Diagnosis and Treatment (Nashville: Abingdon, 1981); Forty-four Ways to Expand the Financial Base of Your Congregation (Abingdon, 1989).

B. High-expectation churches stress and expect members to:
1. Believe doctrinal statements
2. Agree on the authority of Scripture and how it is to be interpreted
3. Attend worship regularly
4. Commit to tithing
5. Agree that the whole tithe comes to the church
6. Support specific causes within the church (several budgets, not a unified budget)
 


What Do the Experts Say About Stewardship?

Experts who have studied major denominations and the reasons people support the work of their church have concluded there are five main factors that explain why some churches have excellent financial stewardship:

A. High family income. (I can’t do a lot about that, but we can understand what “high” is and determine where we fall). Some demographic data is helpful here.

B. High level of involvement in the church. This is something we can work on together. A worship only person is far less likely to feel fed, connected, nourished, discipled, than someone who participates in ____, _____, and ____. Stewardship of resources and time are closely related.

C. Evangelical theology. Do we believe that the church of Jesus Christ is on a mission to reach people in the world with good news that will literally save them? Or are we a maintenance church or a church that says live and let live? This deserves some attention.

D. Planning one’s giving by the year. Rather than impulse giving or haphazard giving, all the studies show that giving based on a serious and prayerful commitment in writing makes for better Stewardship. This is the biggest problem for Roman Catholics who do not have a tradition of planned giving.

E. Small Congregation Size. The smaller the church, normally the higher the giving per household. But this factor is the least important of the five.


The Discipline of Stewardship

A. Who is my Master?

B. What is my purpose?

C. What is expected?

D. What is prohibited?

E. How can I faithfully discharge my trust?

Author

Dr. Steve Ramp

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