Too often congregations think of stewardship as just taking up an offering or pleading for more finances for the church’s ministries. As pastors and church leaders, we need to change this concept. Here are two suggestions:
A Wholestic Approach
Stewardship should be involved in every aspect of our lifestyle. As you prepare to preach keep this mind. For example, you may be preaching a series on Strengthening your Marriage. Present it in the context of each married partner being a steward, in building up and nurturing the other. On another occasion you may have a series on the New Testament parables. One of the most powerful stories Jesus told, was the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). As you develop the theme of having the same caring attitude as the Samaritan, emphasize it by showing how he was a faithful steward in his use of time, transportation and treasure.
A Practical Approach
Throughout my twenty-five years of ministry I have come to believe that the 35% of active members who never place a dollar in the tithe envelope, and the 60% who fail to pay their share of the local church budget, do not believe the biblical principle of giving. I suspect that in the majority of cases they have simply mortgaged their current and future income. In practical terms, the fear of the city utility company cutting off their electricity is stronger than God knocking on their door and saying "you need to support your local church." Preaching more sermons on giving is not the answer for these individuals. Planning regular financial seminars that encourage people in practical ways to get out of debt and use credit wisely can be tremendously helpful. As we provide members with wise suggestions for money management, eventually they will be able to support the church with tithes and offerings and share in the joy of giving.
Gordon Botting was Director of Stewardship Ministries for the Pacific Union Conference when this article was written.