“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” —1 Peter 4:10 (NRSV)
When we talk about stewardship, our minds often go to the annual campaign to secure pledges in our churches. But stewardship isn’t about financing the church’s operating budget. It’s about changing lives. It’s about carefully tending to our God-given resources and using them to achieve God’s kingdom purposes. Giving is a key part of discipleship and spiritual formation. So, what does it mean to steward the church in the 21st century?
We are stewards of the mysteries of the gospel. Every leadership decision or action is spiritual in nature and must focus on connecting persons to God in Christ.
We are stewards of God’s vision. We are called to listen deeply to the heart-songs of God’s people and then articulate the vision God is imparting to them.
We are stewards of trust. We must develop and nurture authentic relationships that cultivate trust and then be trustworthy in those relationships.
We are stewards of administrative processes. This involves coming alongside ministries to help them fulfill the vision and mission, and to reach the intended results or outcomes. The most essential ingredient in this area of stewardship is developing and sustaining the processes for identifying and equipping new leaders.
We are stewards of financial resources. John Wesley referred to this as being stewards of “the right use of money.” At the core of being financial stewardship leaders is creating a culture of extravagant generosity.
We are stewards of fruitfulness. Even though the church is classified as a “non-profit organization” in the classical sense, Jesus calls us to be fruitful, or to produce a “profit” of disciples and bold, spiritual leaders.
Thank you for being a generous fruit-bearer and desiring to live deeply and joyfully as stewards of the gospel and all of God’s good gifts.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough is resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church.