Now that fall stewardship campaigns are in the rearview mirror, it’s tempting not to address money in congregations for another six months at least. However, it turns out that when you’re not asking for money is a great time to talk about it. In this week’s piece, Deborah Rexrode reminds us of this potential yearound stewardship conversation grounded in God’s promises.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Stewards of the Promise
Dr. Deborah Rexrode
As someone who works with pastors on stewardship leadership, I often remind clergy and other congregational leaders that every Sunday is an opportunity for us to preach and teach about Stewardship. It is easy for us to leave those kinds of sermons for the fall when people expect us to talk about stewardship.
Throughout the year, we can provide a broader, more holistic understanding of what stewardship means and the many ways we manage and care for all that God has given to us. It’s difficult for us to talk about money and to share those messages from the scriptures. Indeed, it may be easier to have these conversations when a direct “ask” is not involved as we do during our annual stewardship programs.
There is a resource called, The Stewardship Companion: Lectionary Resources for Preaching by David N. Mosser that I find helpful when preparing sermons about stewardship. David selects one of the lectionary passages for each Sunday of the year and helps us to see it from a stewardship perspective.
For the last Sunday of 2018, the lectionary took us to the story of Samuel, a child for whom Hannah fervently prayed and promised to dedicate to God’s service. The scripture tells us that Hannah did bear a son, and she fulfilled the promise she made to God. David Mosser provides an intriguing idea of considering the stewardship of the promises we make and keep.
The scriptures are full of this kind of exchange between God and the people of God:
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
The Lord goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid or dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)
And one of my favorites…Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
The New Year is a time to reflect on the promises we make to God. We promise to raise our children in a worshipping community. We promise to love and cherish our families. We promise to be faithful in worship. We promise to serve others in need. We promise to give of our time and resources to the ministries where God has placed us.
I often wonder if the reason people choose not to make promises is the fear they have of not being able to fulfill that promise, not being able to fulfill that pledge to the church, not being able to fulfill that commitment to others, or not being able to find the time to do what they are being asked to do.
As stewards of all that God has given to us, it our responsibility to be good stewards of the promises we make. God promises to love and forgive us, to be faithful and just, to never leave us nor forsake us, and we know God will be faithful. We are called to love, hope, believe, ask, seek, confess, and fulfill our calling. As stewards of these promises, we are called to be faithful. Let us be people of promises, and good stewards of the promises.
Every Sunday, I encourage and challenge you to find ways to preach and teach about Stewardship in your congregations.
For More Information
Dr. Deborah Rexrode, Associate for Stewardship for the Presbytery of the James in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Deborah has a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Religion and works with over a hundred congregations in her Presbytery.
Resource mentioned: The Stewardship Companion: Lectionary Resources for Preaching by David N. Mosser, published by Westminster John Knox Press (2007)