This week we begin a series of articles prepared by people who will be presenters at Rethinking Stewardship: Exploring Year-Round Stewardship, July 28-30 at Luther Seminary. This first article explores a definition of stewardship as a call to create community in Christ's name.
Glenn Taibl, Co-Director
Center for Stewardship Leaders
Stewardship: Creating Community
By Glenn Taibl
Stewardship is the management of all of life with Jesus Christ at the Center as life is embraced by our relationship to God, self, others and creation.
This has become my personal "best" definition for Stewardship. I appreciate helpful definitions of stewardship that are not distracted by a default focus on the annual campaign to support the congregation's budget needs. I also appreciate a definition of Stewardship as living life in such a way that God can spend you. A clear definition is important to how we understand stewardship in our daily lives.
Some years ago a confirmation class asked, "What do you do during the week?" Those of you who work in congregational ministries are familiar with this question. I tried to describe some of the things that I do during the week as a pastor but the explanation was met with some rather blank stares. After the class, my colleague, Steve Knudson, and I talked about what we do during the week as the congregation's pastors. The following week I had a follow-up conversation with the confirmation class.
During the week, we create community, that's what we do. We create community in places where community is being challenged or destroyed. Today, when you go to school some people will be destructive of your community and you won't like it. You may run into some "false witness" that hurts a person's reputation or you may run into envy, covetousness that becomes a barrier between you and a friend. Relationships may be compromised. So today, we will talk about things that will help you to create community that needs repairing and forgiving that bridges compromised relationships. God is interested in healing what is being broken in our lives. God creates community. This is also stewardship. Stewardship is relational as it unites God's action for others with our response.
We help to create community in families where we support parents when they work hard at living faithful lives as they share God's love with their children. We create community when families are falling apart and love and forgiveness is glue that holds things together. We create community for the homeless and hungry of our city who will be in despair without our presence. In fact our presence in these cases is Christ's presence for hurting people. This is also stewardship. Stewardship is relational as it unites Gods action for others with our response.
We can create community because Christ has created us as Christ's body in the world that God so loves. We can create community because Christ is busy and present in the world and he is working through us in our church community as we reach out to others. We come together at a regular time each week so we can listen for what God is doing in our lives and then we respond by stewarding important relationships with Christ at the center. We call this "stewardship" as we receive our cues from our relationship to God. Stewardship is relational.
We create community when we care for the land and manage our lives in such a way that what we do is life-giving and doesn't compromise God's good gifts to us and to others in food and air and water. All of life is important to God. When we take care of the earth and all daily gifts and all we need from day to day, it is called stewardship. Stewardship is relational.
Oh, yes, sometimes, during the week, we also deal with money. Money is part of the offering of the gifts that create community; our prayers, our time, our work of living in the world as God's people. Sometimes, we talk about financial resources because these resources are a part of stewardship that is relational and creates community. During the week, we are stewards of the community God is creating each day. That's what all stewards do during the week, isn't it?
Glenn Taibl is a co-director for the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.