We are planning our stewardship emphasis this next October. The emphasis we are using is called, "Consecrated Stewards" from LCEF. The emphasis is outstanding. It focuses on the need of the giver to give, not on budgets. It points people to sanctified living as a child of God through Baptism in Christ. This year will be no different and the idea of stewardship is slowly being seen as part of our faith life, as opposed to something we do when our budget is low.
I have been thinking about stewardship and the church for quite some time. Mainly because for a long time I did not understand the idea of giving to church. My thought was, why? They have church on Sunday, they have an occasional gathering, a few programs that seem to be more about advertising than reaching the community. Why would one give to a church? Why not give to a group like Compassion International or Gideons that are out in the world?
This represents a major problem in the church. For too long, we have depended on people to give simply because it was what one did. Kind of like why one would volunteer in the community, it was an expectation. And too often the product coming out of the church was not much. They did not serve the surrounding community, they did not live out their faith outside of worship, and the idea of loving one another was not first on people's minds.
However, much of this has changed in mind due to many booklets written by Matt Harrison called, "Mercy Moments." Rev. Harrison speaks concerning the Christian church's role not only being about Word and Sacrament, but also mercy/service to our community. He has broken down many barriers from past views of mercy ministries being "liberal" or "unchristian." At the same time, it helps a congregational member realize that when is looking at stewardship. We give not solely because of an obligation, but because our churches are being feed by Christ and therefore go into the community with the mercy of Christ. That is a great reason to give and be part of the Church today.