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From the Stewardship Team of First Church of Christ
First Church of Christ envisions effective Christian stewardship as more than the money we drop into the collection plate. Stewardship is everything we do after we say we believe.
In Building the Body of Christ, we are learning how to think and act personally and biblically in th following areas of responsibility that have been entrusted to us by God.
CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP isn't restricted to tithing and philanthropy. It extends to our daily vocation, to the good work our God-given talents and opportunities have called us to. Ironically, this fact is most often missed concerning the very type of workers featured in Jesus' parable of vocational stewardship-the parable of the talents.
There, three servants are called to use their master's money to go into business and turn a profit. They're called to be entrepreneurs.
We affirm a broad scope and variety of callings, including the vocation of business,which is commonly misunderstood. The call of the entrepreneur is a true, creative calling that should be encouraged and nurtured by the church, not disdained. It is not based on greed, nor is the wealth gained in one place necessarily wealth lost somewhere else.
Because we are creative beings made in the image of a creative God, all human activity is capable of glorifying God. Ministry is not superior to business-we are simply called to use the talents and skills He has given us.
Thus, we should avoid contrasting our professional work with our faith and philanthropy. Instead, we should integrate all aspects of our lives under a broad, biblical understanding of stewardship.
God calls us to be stewards of His creation. A proper biblical understanding of resources and of humanity's relationship to nature provides the basis for a solid environmental ethic. It also protects us from the tendency among many in the wider environmental movement to idolize nature-to worship the creation instead of the Creator.
We need to distinguish between two things that often get confused. On the one hand, there's the non-negotiable biblical command to be good stewards of the natural environment. On the other hand, there are the various claims about how best to do this, claims about which people of good will and intelligence may disagree.
We encourage you to look at the trade-offs for various environmental policies and to remember that, as stewards, we often are called to make hard choices and to remember other stewardship responsibilities, such as our responsibility to the world's poor.
One of our most basic stewardship responsibilities is to help our fellow human beings in need. In fulfilling this responsibility, it's not enough to care, not enough to "Just do something, anything!" We need to care effectively lest our attempts to help do more harm than good.
We also need to honor God's wisdom, steering the work of helping those in need to the institutions best equipped to fill those needs; each of God's institutions-Church, family, and government-has its own strengths. Ensuring that resources are most effectively placed, both domestically and internationally, is crucial in this area of stewardship. Often, those closest to a problem can provide the most valuable compassion and help.
God has made us stewards of our cultural and religious heritage, including the civil institutions of family and church.
It's especially important that we emphasize this stewardship responsibility, because placing responsibilities with one entity that really belong with another creates imbalance, diminishes the others, and weakens society. The principle of division of labor among Church, family, and government applies just as much to our civic duty as it does to "loving our neighbor."
We should protect and nourish our civil institutions, partly by insisting on a properly limited role for each, and partly by rejecting the feel-good, follow-your-impulse ethos that is doing so much to undermine marriages, families, and the Church.
We have a stewardship responsibility to give to the work of the church. Doing so may require us to bring our habits of spending more fully under the Lordship of Christ.
At the same time, we need to realize we are not doing God a favor by giving on Sunday mornings. Instead, all the wealth in our possession is God's already-wealth He has entrusted to us, both for our enjoyment and for us to use in His service. That means we need to be good stewards of all of our wealth by following time-tested principles of budgeting and wealth management.