Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It’s “stewardship month” at Good Shepherd! Aren’t you excited? No? If the mention of stewardship leaves you less than riveted, it’s likely due to how the topic has presented. I mean, when you hear the word “stewardship,” what is the first thing that you think of? Most likely, “money.” Right? There is a lingering belief among many Christians that stewardship is just a “church-y” word for fundraising.
While stewardship does include the funding the church’s programs and the upkeep of the facilities, it is about much more than money. It encompasses all that we do after we say we believe—regarding not just money, but how we live in response to all that God has given us. When we neglect “stewardship” in favor of “fundraising,” we are giving up on knowing and living God’s “good news” in our everyday life. The problem is clear when we consider how Christian stewardship differs from the fundraising that secular charities do:
- Fundraising tries to get us to give away some of our money. Stewardship sees all that we have as God’s.
- Fundraising is about giving to an institution. Stewardship is about giving to God.
- Fundraising is solely concerned about money. Stewardship encompasses the whole of life and the use of all its resources.
- Fundraising takes place at a particular time, often called a “campaign.” Stewardship is about how we live our lives all year long.
- Fundraising is founded on a “scarcity mentality.” Stewardship is founded on an “abundance mentality.”
- Fundraising is focused on achieving a quantifiable goal. Stewardship is focused on spiritual transformation that extends throughout our lives.
- Fundraising is focused on addressing the needs of the institution by offering something in exchange for giving. Stewardship, on the other hand, encourages giving as an expression of gratitude.
As you can see in this brief overview of some of the differences between fundraising and stewardship, the two approaches to giving differ greatly in their values and underlying beliefs.
This month, as we lift up “Christian stewardship” in our congregational life, I encourage our congregation to reflect, first, on all that God has given us, personally and as a parish, and, second, to ask ourselves how we might become better stewards of God’s gifts entrusted to us. My hope is that this time of focusing on stewardship can be an opportunity for faith-raising and not just fund-raising. For it is only by faith, by God’s grace, and good stewardship, that we can hope to reach out to where God calls us, to serve the needy world.
Yours in Christ,