By Brett Younger
Church newsletter columns on stewardship traditionally begin with subtle disclaimers. I don't like talking about this! I don't talk about this very often!! I'M NOT LIKE OTHER MINISTERS WHO ASK FOR MONEY!!!
During October, we will consider what we give to the church. As I thought about the best way to encourage giving, I considered listing what are commonly seen as the keys to effective stewardship-committing to stewardship year round, talking about money openly, and not allowing the interim pastor to write a stewardship column.
Catchy themes can make a stewardship campaign. "Stewardships that Fail to Sail," "Taking the Stew out of Stewardship," and "The Sermon on the Amount" all say something incomprehensible.
The Bible has a lot to say on stewardship. "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). "Feasts are made for laughter; wine gladdens life, and money meets every need" (Ecc. 10:19) - that one doesn't sound right. "Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died" (Acts 5:5) - from my favorite stewardship story.
Pithy quotes on stewardship can be enlightening. "When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart" (John Wesley). "Each of us will one day be judged by our measure of giving-not by our measure of wealth" (William Arthur Ward). "A dead church doesn't ask for money" (Clara Bess Eikner). "I'd find the fellow who lost it, and if he was poor, I'd return it" (Yogi Berra-when asked what he would do on finding a million dollars in the street).
I could write a threatening column saying that if you don't give we will play an accordion rather than the organ, sprinkle rather than immerse, and provide no more coffee.
Some of the most interesting stewardship columns promise great rewards for giving. The more you give, the more you will get. Giving to the church leads to weight loss. Tithing will make you irresistible to the opposite sex. People who give to the church live longer. (If it's not true it should be.)
Ministers are reticent to talk about giving to the church for a variety of reasons. I am glad that I can unapologetically encourage people to give to Highland Hills. When I write a check to the church, I'm happy to be part of a holy work. Many of you already give sacrificially. Everyone can consider giving more. Ask, "Do my gifts to Highland Hills reflect how much I value this family of God?"