Ken Keefer just walked into my office wearing his Thrivent “Living Generously” T-Shirt” (which he likely got for free). He and his shirt got me thinking about stewardship, living generously and benevolence.
Christian stewardship cannot be taught as most things are taught. It can be caught by spiritually. It can be encouraged by example. It can be passed on by mentors. It can be only learned by experience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson truthfully remarked; “What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” What the church practices when it comes to giving… speaks loudly to its members , to its community and the world.
I wish we would use the term giving more. It seems to me that “stewardship” is a concept that we emphasize only once a year, while “giving” is an action that happens year around. The church needs fewer concepts and more actions. The persons who best understand stewardship are the good givers (by “good” I mean proportionally not necessarily the amount). Just because a person preaches (or writes) about stewardship, does not mean they necessarily understand stewardship.
Giving money away to missions and benevolences present the church with its finest opportunity to teach stewardship by example, or to practice what it preaches!
Believe it or not there are churches that give away as much as they spend on their own budgets. Those churches are teachers of stewardship!
The Rev. George Regas, retired Episcopal priest said; ‘The world is judging the church not on what we spend on ourselves but on what we give away.” That might be a good way to measure ourselves!
In “living generously”. The church should not be afraid to fail. After all Christianity was not founded by being prudent, cautious or playing it safe!