Posted by: pastordarren | June 4, 2009

Finance vs. Stewardship

Reverend Dick Hamm, a former General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has written a book entitled, Recreating the Church: Leadership for the Postmodern Age.  This is a wonderful and challenging book to all leaders and churches in today’s world.  With in this book, Rev. Hamm talks about several polarities with in the church.  A few posts ago, I wrote about one of the other polarities that Hamm talks about, Maintenance verses Mission.  Today, I would like address another of these polarities that churches often find themselves in – Finance verses Stewardship.

Rev. Hamm says this about finance and stewardship:

Finance . . . the development of proposed budgets, keeping an eye on income verses expenses, and holding the organization accountable to fiscal responsibility.

Stewardship . . . educating the congregation to give of their time, talent, and money; promoting tithing; giving generously to the annual stewardship campaign; and encouraging people to contribute from their accumulated resources to endowments and other special funds – all as a matter of spiritual discipline.

The difference here between the two is a bit more subtle.  In order to be good stewards in the church, we do need to have well though and planned out budgets and keep an eye on the income and outflow.  Especially in today’s economy, we need to be smart and aware of these things.  Too often this is where is stops.  When it stops here, we focus more on the money (or lack there of most of the time) and loose track of the faith and spiritual and faith focus that we are to have in the church.

Stewardship, personal and church wide, is a spiritual issue that involves more than money.  Stewardship involves using all of what we have been given and acquired for God’s work and glory.  Jesus tells us in a couple of His parables that we are not to hoard or keep what we have been given, but are to use it as it has been given to us.  Stewardship is a reflection on the spiritual aspect of our lives.  Hamm says that stewardship will increase giving when people are convinced that giving is a blessing to others and / or that the increased giving will help the institution be more mission oriented rather than merely maintenance oriented.  See the previous post about this polarity.

I believe that it all has to start with stewardship of what we have and who we are as God’s children.  If we are not good stewards, then it will be hard to be good givers.

Rev. Hamm also talks about several other polarities with in the church, including withholding vs. granting authority; management vs. vision; pragmatism vs. core values; membership vs. discipleship; dependency vs. capacity; control vs. empowerment; and democracy vs. discernment.  I hope to share with you some thoughts from the book and my own mind in the next few days about these polarities and how Rev. Hamm and others see them in the church.

I would be interested in your thoughts about this polarity and how it affects your church.

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