Beyond Abundance: Faithful Stewardship Language to Fit Our Realities
Aug. 23, 2017 • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.
For years, stewardship sermons and annual campaign materials have emphasized “God’s abundance” in contrast to our culture’s “myth of scarcity.” While this rhetoric of abundance vs. scarcity is a faithful way to frame broader realities, it can fall short when applied to specific circumstances. What does abundance mean for congregations facing budget deficits, young adults burdened by student loans or older members who have not saved sufficiently for retirement? Yet, surely we should not abandon scripture and its liturgy of God’s abundance. In keynote presentations, discussions and activities, this event will consider the language of stewardship, rethinking traditional messages, as well as discovering new words and practices.
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Tuition: $50 (tuition includes lunch); contact hours: 5
- Adam Copeland, Director of Stewardship Leadership, Luther Seminary
- Katie Hays, Lead Evangelist, Galileo Church, Mansfield, Texas
- Cameron Howard, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary
- David King, Karen Lake Buttrey Director, Lake Institute on Faith and Giving
- David King: Is Stewardship Ethical?: Reflecting on the Economic Practices and Pleas of our Congregations
In the face of the Great Depression, a young Reinhold Niebuhr asked Christian leaders to examine the ethics of their stewardship sermons. As stewardship language came to define Protestant church fundraising, Niebuhr worried that churches ignored the theological ethics of the ways in which they received, manage, and spent resources in the midst of rapidly changing economic contexts. The same might be said today. How must Christian stewardship be reconceived and reoriented in today’s economy? Reaching to new disciplines might help us expand our stewardship vocabularies. Business and philanthropy have turned to “economics of mutuality” and “impact investing.” Expanding our theology of stewardship to engage our micro and macro-economic practices will force us to make sense of scarcity, abundance, and mutuality throughout the multiple communities in which we live daily.
- Cameron Howard, “Build Houses and Live in Them”: A Biblical Vocabulary for Sustainable Stewardship
The Bible’s vision for a flourishing life includes practicing faithful stewardship that cares for generations yet to come. The recurring prophetic charge to “build houses and live in them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit” implies neither asceticism nor profligate consumption, but rather envisions patterns for productive work with a sustainable future. In this presentation we will explore the Bible’s vocabulary of sustainability, identifying texts and images that can form the practices of faith communities through times of both abundance and scarcity.
The language of God’s abundance falls flat on the ears of young adults who are coming of vocational age during the Great Recession that began in 2007. And while Millennials are generous, they are unlikely to be inspired by institutional loyalty. The church will need to seek new theological and communal grammar for the logic of stewardship for a new generation of adults, in whose hands the church will be sooner than we like to think.