Here’s the buzz from the small groups week 9:
We discussed how being a steward for God means more than just writing a check, but using our time and talents as well. The idea that we are managers not owners created interesting views that related well to what we see happening in business these days.
We considered how from the beginning of creation, God entrusted humankind to be stewards of His creation (God asked Adam to “till and keep” the garden). But humankind has too often polluted and destroyed a once beautiful land. We spend resources in ways that damage our health and that of others. Our bodies are to be “temples of the Holy Spirit”, but too often we are unfaithful to the One who truly loves us. Many see themselves as “sole proprietors” rather than being junior partners with God, as stewards of creation.
We are also called to be stewards of the challenges that come into our lives. Some face these challenges in a way God desires, such as the parents of a special needs child that work together with others to establish schools, communities and work training opportunities for those with special needs. Some see their financial resources as a trust from God, and quietly, even anonymously, generously give to worthy causes.
And what kind of stewardship will we perform when cancer, or a disease comes our way in life? Will we show our loved ones how to face such challenges in a way that draws others
closer to God? Or will we become consumed with self-pity, even become angry with God? All of life offers us opportunities to be faithful stewards.
KEY IDEA: I believe that everything I am and everything I own belongs to God.
Interestingly, when the subject of Stewardship was discussed, every member of our group immediately focused on money (tithing). However, as was presented in this chapter, Stewardship involves people managing all of God’s Creation – their Children, their Money, their Homes, their Bodies – over All They Do. It seems that the perception of our group is that when churches have Stewardship campaigns the focus is on monetary giving. One important aspect that seems to be under-represented is the “bodies” of the congregation – their abilities to do things to help others inside and outside the church proper. That would be the management of their respective non-monetary gifts and offerings. We discussed that it would be a good idea for the church to focus at least 50% on personal Stewardship giving of gifts and talents. People could indicate their willingness to contribute on a general basis (“wherever needed”) or specific tasks (“clean-up after Sunday treats”, ”maintain flower beds”, “teach Sunday School”, “work on a local mission” etc.).
We also focused on the idea of tithing. Our perception is that tithing involves giving money to the church, but also involves money that is given to any outside charity or charitable activity. Tithing is to God’s purpose and use, viewed as an umbrella, which includes the giving to a specific church. This may fly in the face of some traditional thought, but when one steps-back and looks at the big picture (God’s “big picture” is all of Creation), it seems to make perfect sense.
As always, we are grateful for this series of opportunities to share Biblical study and fellowship with one another.
We discussed that giving has to begin with the heart – your heart has to be in the right place to give money, talent, and time – to be good stewards. We also talked about people who struggle financially who would like to give monetarily but don’t see how they ever can. We suggested there are resources to learn how to manage money so people are able to give. We talked about the importance of giving first fruits and also paying it forward. We may not ever see the “fruits” of our kindness but God does.