By Bruce Barkhauer, Center for Faith and Giving
Most churches expect members to be good stewards. The problem is that most churches neither talk about this expectation nor do they prepare their members to become good practitioners of this spiritual discipline.
Faithful stewards do not appear with the morning dew as did manna for Israel in the Sinai Desert! Faithful stewards are grown in the soil of discipleship and they bear the spiritual fruit of generosity that is developed through nurture and intentional practice. In other words, if you look around and don’t see a harvest of good stewards in your congregation, you have to ask yourself if you remembered to plant any seeds!
Our stewardship conversations are ineffective when we narrowly focus on tithing and/or being generous with our money without ever having laid a foundation about how the bible makes the case that to be a steward is our very nature – a faithful manager of all things. We have conflated the concepts of stewardship and money so as to equate them as being synonymous; when in fact, financial management is only one part of the life of a steward.
At the Center for Faith and Giving our word to the wise is that nothing replaces education and well modeled practice when it comes to the formation of faith, which includes stewardship. You can find a number of educational resources on our website, many of which are adaptable for on-line learning as we adjust to our new physical distancing circumstances. Now would be a great time to have a meaningful discussion about what it means to have been created as a steward. People are shifting their priorities and taking stock of what matters which make this a perfect time to have this discussion in your faith community.
Bruce Barkhauer is the Director of the Center for Faith and Giving and serves as the Minister for Faith and Giving for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 317-713-2404.