It's easy for deacons (and churches) to equate stewardship with money, aka our "treasures", and not really move past that. And why not? The Bible talks about money a lot so why shouldn't we? In most churches, the Deacons are responsible for collecting and distributing the money that church members give. This means discerning which ministries to support, making the offering schedule, promoting the weekly offering/ministry, physically collecting it on Sunday mornings, and then disbursing the funds appropriately.
But when we read the Deacons' Mandate, it tells us that "in imitation of Christ’s mercy, deacons teach us to love God, our neighbours, and the creation with acts of generous sharing, joyful hospitality, thoughtful care, and wise stewardship of all of God’s gifts.” (CRCNA Form for the Installation of Elders and Deacons—2016).
What this means is that stewardship involves understanding that all we have belongs to God, and has been entrusted to our care. It means faithfully managing what we have (stewarding it) for the advancement of His kingdom and to bring Him glory. For simplicity, we say that this includes the following 4 T's: Time, Talents, Treasures, and Trees. As followers of Jesus, stewardship is how we can be Christ's presence in our homes, our neighbourhoods and in communities around the world.
What does this look like practically then? As part of their mandate, Deacons are called to equip and empower their congregation by:
- Providing a comprehensive understanding of Stewardship;
- Promoting ways church members can "practice" and live out good stewardship in all four areas: with their Time, Talents, Treasures (finances) and in Creation (Trees);
- Creating an awareness of what ministry shares are and what they do; and
- Encouraging members to 'excel in the grace of giving' (2 Cor. 8:7).
Over the past weeks, staff of Diaconal Ministries Canada have been working hard to create helpful Stewardship Resources for your diaconate and church to get started.
Let us know what you think! Email our Stewardship Pilot Project Coordinator, Karla Winham, at [email protected]@crcna.org.