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Stewardship

  Wondering how to keep up your financial giving when you’re on vacation a lot this summer?

1. Make it a can’t miss summer. Come to worship as much as possible.
2. Mail a check and when you do, say a prayer that it is used to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
3. Tell Brian Kochersperger to call and remind you.
4. Invite Pastor Emily to coffee, the soccer field, the garden (but don’t ask her to help if you want your plants to survive), and she’d be happy to talk about great ministry the church is doing – at Faith and around the world.
5. Follow the youths’ example. They fill up their piggy banks when they aren’t church and put them in the offering plate when they are.
6. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, trust that God will get you through the summer. “My God will meet your every need out of his riches in the glory that is found in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19.



                               Stewardship

Acts 20:28

  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
New International Version (NIV)

  As you have read in the Stewardship articles written by Ray Randolph over the past several months, stewardship is not just the church’s annual request for money – it is an everyday part of our lives.

  It encompasses how we care for our families, our friends. Do we treat them with the honor and respect they deserve? Do we put their well-being at the top of our priority list?     

  It includes how we care for our church and our community. Do we nurture and support those around us? Do we use the opportunities given to share God’s love?

  God created the world. He created the plants and animals. Then he created us to care for them. Do we take time to see and appreciate our surroundings? Do we use our natural resources wisely?

  God gave us many gifts. Being a good steward is determining how we can best use those gifts to serve God. Yes, very soon, we will all be receiving that annual Stewardship letter with the pledge cards, and the time and talent sheets. Once again this year, we ask that you give of your time, talent and treasures in a loving response to all God has given to you.



Stewardship

  In the past, I have occasionally shared information from the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary, which I had excerpted or adapted. The following article, except for printed format, is presented as it was received. RAR.

The Identity Which Shapes Our Lives
By John Wertz Jr.
Pastor, St. Michael Lutheran Church
Blacksburg, Virginia

  I started a new workout program a few months ago focused on short interval exercises. You do an exercise until the buzzer sounds and then move on to the next exercise. It’s a short-term, highly intensive workout. You never do one exercise for more than 48 seconds at a time. It’s fun. It’s challenging and I enjoy it. I know that in less than an hour, I’ll be done with the workout. When I exit, I leave behind that part of my day. I don’t carry weights as I make hospital visits. I don’t wear my workout clothes when I lead worship. I don’t bring a stretching band into a Congregational Council meeting. The workout is an activity but it is not my identity.

  Unlike my new workout, being a child of God is not a short-term, highly intensive activity that we can undertake for less than an hour before continuing on with the rest of our day. It takes more than 48 seconds to go and make disciples of all nations, to love one another as Christ first loved us, to do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with God. It takes more than a few hours a week to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind, to love in truth and action, and to use our gifts for the building up of the whole community. Being a child of God is not merely an activity. When we are marked with the cross of Christ forever in the waters of baptism, our relationship to God and God’s relationship to us becomes a core part of our identity that cannot be separated from the rest of our daily life.

  There are definitely days when I have trouble seeing the connection between my activities and my identity as a child of God, but then I remember Paul’s admonition to the Romans that “whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom. 14:8) When I remember those words, the connection between whose I am and what I do each comes back into focus. Each activity we undertake—whether we are exercising at the gym, parenting at home, or performing a task at work—is an example of how we use our gifts to live as God’s people in the world. Each activity we undertake presents an opportunity for us to proclaim God’s love to the world through our words and deeds. Each activity provides the opportunity to be good stewards of the gifts God had given us for the building up of the common good.

  Beginning on Labor Day, our congregation will emphasize praying intentionally for people to make a stronger connection between their identity as a child of God and their daily activities. We will pray for people to see themselves as God’s hearts and hands and voices in the world whether they are at work, at school, or at home. We will pray for people to be good stewards, not only of their financial resources, but also good stewards of the opportunities they have each day to participate in God’s mission to love and bless the world.

  Obviously, there is no way a congregation could pray for every activity on a weekly basis, but we can focus on people’s activities and opportunities as they present themselves on a seasonal basis by developing a seasonal calendar that includes vocations present in their worshipping community. The prayer calendar at St. Michael might include farmers, spring sports athletes and their parents, life guards, camp counselors, and construction workers in the summer; teachers, students, and school administrators in the fall; and public servants, restaurant workers, and health care professionals in the winter.

  This prayer emphasis will be reflected in prayer petitions in worship, in newly created offertory prayers, and in prayer initiations in the weekly newsletter. Our hope is that with God’s help, these prayers will serve as visible reminders of our identity as children of God and the ways in which our identity can influence and enhance our daily activities.

Ray Randolph, Stewardship




                         Time, Talent
s, Treasure

   We who are called to be disciples are the beneficiaries of blessings from a gracious, merciful, and loving God, who gives us gifts of time, talents (unique interests and skills), and treasure.

   All that we are and all that we like to call our own really belongs to God and is entrusted to us. It is then our privilege and responsibility, in gratitude to God and as good managers, to find ways to take advantage of opportunities to share our gifts and blessings for the benefit of others and as a reflection of our roles as disciples.

   As pilgrims on our journey of faith, we seek to walk with Jesus and to rely on the Holy Spirit for direction and strength of mind and heart, so that we who are blessed can in word and deed be a blessing to others.    


                    What’s stewardship all about?

                                  By Paul Lutter

    However important it may seem, stewardship is primarily about something more profound than asking either how (much) people give in money, time, and other gifts or how to get people to increase the ways they give.

   While both questions are important, neither is sufficient. When these questions and their answers rule the roost, stewardship is seen to be almost exclusively about money and the quest for more of it for the mission and ministry of the church on both local and more global levels. Those concerned about stewardship, then, try to find ways to compel people to give more of what they have so that others who have nothing will then have something.
This isn’t really what stewardship is about, though. Stewardship proceeds from a different question, and thus lives out of a different reality.

   The foundational question from which stewardship lives is neither how nor why people give what they do. At its heart, the core question of stewardship is who does the giving in the first place? In other words, who owns all that we have?

   The answer to this question may be surprising. It is certainly radical given our common thinking about what we have and how we use what we have. The answer even widens the scope of how we think about stewardship to move beyond what we have to even encompass who we are.
God owns all that we have. All of it. And, perhaps even more radically in a world that is hell bent on individual autonomy, God owns us, too.

Martin Luther on stewardship

   Now, before you click to another article or laugh at the mere suggestion, hear me out. Or better yet, listen to what Martin Luther has to say. In 1529, Luther writes in his Small Catechism in explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed (“I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”), that God not only creates us, but also, “…God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property — along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life.”

   God owns it all because God creates it all, right down to the “shoes and clothing” we wear. This God creates these things for us not once long ago, but “daily,” Luther says. Daily, God creates and gives us what we need. And why wouldn’t that be the case — it’s God’s to give. It is interesting to note that Luther pairs “daily and abundantly,” which suggests that as much and as often as God “provides” for us at all levels, God never runs out of good things to give us. No, this God who creates all things, “provides … all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life.”

   God never runs out. What if this provided the focus of how we think about and live out stewardship? Maybe then we could put away the stewardship programs and, instead, roll up our sleeves and do what we are called to do with all that God gives us, namely, to care for all that we’ve been given. This isn’t a euphemism for hoarding what God gives us! Rather, it is about releasing the death grip we have on everything — including ourselves — and rest, instead, in the hands that create and hold us anew every day.

Paul Lutter is a visiting instructor at Gustavus Adolphus College. He is working toward his Ph.D. from Luther Seminary.


 

 




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