In 1998, our church body in convention approved the adoption of 8 “Biblical Stewardship Principles” based on this definition: “Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.”

We want to understand how we, as Christian stewards can live generously … for we represent and serve the Lord, who Himself is supremely generous. In Acts 2, we see that believers in the early church were generous as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Even those who were poor were spurred on by Christ’s sacrifice to generously share with those who had need:

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44–45, ESV)

Is it possible for us, in 21st century America, to express the same spirit of generosity? The answer is yes … but … The 21st century Church must recognize some fundamental truths.   Larry Ulrich, writing on the topic of Encouraging Generous Stewards suggests these factors:

A Generous Culture Cultivates Generous Stewards. Congregations need to model a generous attitude to their members. If a congregation has a culture of “scarcity” members can tend to adopt this attitude, and be to stingy with their resources. Rather, congregations and members need to recognize that with God all things are possible, and to share generously recognizing that God supplies in abundance! (see Luke 6:38).

Generous Leaders Cultivate Generous Stewards.   In the Bible, we see the leaders making their gifts first:

“Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work.” (1 Chron. 29:6)

In generous churches, leaders are modeling generosity. The greatest impact is experienced when members are shown how acts of generosity result in changed lives.

Embrace the Ministry of Asking.   This is best done when we first learn what our members are passionate about. However, when a ministry does ask for money, it is important that the perspective is always what God wants for the giver, now what the ministry wants or needs from the giver. Our Giving to His Glory program should be seen as an opportunity to stir up each other toward love and good works! (see Hebrews 10:24).

Generosity is Contagious. This is seen in the Bible in a number of places, but especially when it came time to build the Old Testament tabernacle (see Exodus 35 and 36). The generosity of the people continued to grow and grow until those who were in charge of the building of the tabernacle came to Moses and said, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” So Moses told the people to stop bringing gifts! It is so important to notice that the people were not commanded to bring these contributions; they were bringing gifts from their generous hearts. The command was not to give, but to stop giving… Imagine that!

Measuring Generosity. It has been said that “what’s important gets measured, and what gets measured is important.” Churches need to measure the giving of their members… and this measurement needs to go beyond just the aggregate giving numbers. If giving is a measure of a member’s spiritual health, then neglecting to monitor someone’s giving is failing to properly care for their spiritual well-being.

Celebrate Generosity.   We regularly celebrate important milestones in the life of our members – Baptism, Confirmation, Weddings, Installations, etc. Yet, we can struggle at celebrating generosity. It is important to celebrate when someone gives for the first time. And it is also important to celebrate the impact that generosity allows in and through our congregation.

So how are we doing at Redeemer by the Sea? Have you seen our culture of generosity in the way we provide gifts and free resources for our members? Do you sense that our congregational leaders are generous givers? Have we helped you experience with transparency – both our struggles and joys in the areas of generosity? Are you spurred on to give to the work of the Lord, encouraged by the generosity of other congregation members? Do you feel as though you are receiving appropriate monitoring and feedback on your giving? And are you able to celebrate the impact that your offerings and the offerings of the others in our congregation are making – not just to support our beautiful sanctuary and dedicated ministry staff… but to reach beyond our walls with the gospel and love of Jesus? I would love to hear from you on this! Please drop me an email: pastor@redeemerbythesea.org and share what you see as strengths and/or areas for improvement!

Blessed to be a blessing,

Pastor Augie