In October 2006, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Brampton hosted a workshop titled This Old Church: Renovating Stewardship. The day began with two plenary sessions led byTerry Parsons, an innovative and energetic stewardship leader with the Episcopal Church in the US. Terry brought a positive message that we can rise to the stewardship challenges we have in our churches. She shared with us her seven secrets to amazing stewardship which are:
- PRAY about your stewardship. Pray as a congregation, pray as individuals.
- ENGAGE THE GOSPELS. What is Jesus calling us to do? As a congregation and as individuals?
- REBUKE SCARCITY and
- CLAIM ABUNDANCE. Do not “give in” to those who claim scarcity (“we’ll never make the budget!”). Ask ourselves and each other what we value about our church and what we can contribute. To illustrate, Terry asked us to consider the Biblical story of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-44). Here the disciples “behaved like church leaders” by saying that there was not enough. They claimed scarcity, the safe approach of doing nothing. But Jesus asked the abundance question – “What DO we have?” This can be a scary question and yet, as Mark’s Gospel tells us, what the disciples thought was scarcity, turned out to be abundance – more than enough for all! (Remember secret #2 – engage the Gospels.)
- BETTER TO NURTURE HOLY HABITS THAN TO OBSESS ABOUT THE BUDGET. Well, what “holy habits” are we talking about here? Two that Terry mentioned were Sabbath keeping and tithing. Tithing is one of the most ancient of instructions, going back in the Bible to the story of Jacob who offered 10% of his wealth to God. (The “modern” tithe recommends 5% of gross income be offered to our church under the assumption that the second 5% can be used for the many other charities needing support in our world.) If we work to effectively make these “holy habits” a part of our life, then we would have no stewardship problems.
- THANK EVERYBODY, ESPECIALLY GOD. Say thanks for the support that everyone is giving to the church. And remember to thank God for what he is doing in our lives.
- NEVER FORGET that you can have enough to do God’s work in the world.