My church newsletter pastor’s column for St. Peter Lutheran Church, Greene, Iowa, for February, 2017.
A Stewardship Menu
We love because God first loved us.
–1 John 4:19
Have you ever wondered just what the pastor is supposed to do? Well, my responsibilities are listed in my “Letter of Call” from the congregation of St. Peter. In addition to the obvious tasks of preaching and teaching, administering sacraments, and providing pastoral care, I’m called to do several tasks related to stewardship. Specifically, I’m called “to speak for justice in behalf of the poor and oppressed; to impart knowledge of the ELCA and its wider ministry; and to endeavor to increase support given by our congregation to the work of our whole church.”
A great definition of stewardship is “everything we do after we say we believe.” Everything we do in life as Christians is related to stewardship. If we believe God is our Creator and Lord, then everything we have is God’s. Part of my call as pastor is to work with the stewardship committee to help members of this congregation grow into better stewards of our time, money, and lives.
Of course, the challenge is that talking about stewardship often just sounds like asking for money. Far too many people are already suspicious that “all the church wants is your money.” In fact, there are churches and church leaders (even Lutheran ones!) who get so caught up in asking for money that they lose sight of their real mission. Any time we start using guilt or shame to compel giving, or we promise giving money will lead to a blessing in return, we’ve lost sight of what stewardship really is.
The unique thing about Christian stewardship and giving to the church is that it is first and foremost a response to God. When we begin to grasp what God has done for us, and we realize everything we have is a gift trusted to us by God our Creator, then we respond by giving—giving of ourselves, our time, and yes, our money. Following Jesus means shifting our priorities, and that’s stewardship!
The stewardship ministry of our church, then, is about helping people give in response to God’s giving. Healthy Christians need ways to give, and the church’s job is to facilitate that giving. If the church is demanding or begging for money to keep the institution alive, that’s not stewardship; it’s fundraising. Fundraising isn’t necessarily bad, but let’s not mix it up with stewardship.
My job in this stewardship ministry is to provide lots of opportunities to give—a sort of “stewardship menu.” Different people are moved by different opportunities and needs. When you hear me or the stewardship committee present different ways for you to give your money or time, please don’t feel like you need to give to everything. My goal is to present more opportunities than any of us can respond to!
God has given each of us unique passions and different abilities to support the work God is doing in our world. Some people get excited about foreign missionaries, or sponsoring children in other countries. Others care deeply about the food pantry here in Greene, or the accessibility of our own church building.
Our partnerships through the ELCA and our synod allow us to share God’s love in ways we never could alone (and they allow others to share with us. Did you know our synod gave $10,000 this fall to Butler County flood relief efforts?). There are camp scholarships, food-packing projects, international charities, blood drives, social services programs, world hunger, shelters, mission trips, and many more worthy causes we support in our ministry together. What else? I’m always looking for more stewardship opportunities to share with you!
Blessings as you steward the gifts with which God has entrusted you!
-Pastor Daniel Flucke