For the first time in my short-history as a pastor (ordained five years), I have conducted a sermon series on stewardship (“The Joy of Generosity,” by Robert Heerspink [Reformed Worship, March 2001]). I confess this was a bit out of my comfort zone. But after consulting with a few key leaders in my church, it seemed right to us and the Holy Spirit, so I prepared it. The fact is that stewardship has been on our minds lately. It was recently observed that although our weekly worship service attendance had increased steadily over the last few years—thanks be to God!—our weekly giving had not. Why? My mentor reminded me this isn’t necessarily a bad sign, as our church does bring in people with little if any church background. For some of those folks, giving to the church is a new thing, and must be taught. So that’s what I set out to do.
I would recommend the Heerspink series as it isn’t just focused on giving, but on stewardship. Part One affirms us as God’s stewards. Part two discusses some impediments to our ministry of stewardship, namely the consumerism of our culture. And part three challenges us to give sacrificially and discusses the benefits of generous giving. I placed this stewardship series in the larger context of discipleship. I told the people I was concerned that nothing hinders us in our spiritual growth (i.e., consumerism), and the importance of leveraging our God-given resources in our mission to make disciples of Christ. I argued that learning about stewardship is just part of our discipleship. As uncomfortable as it may be for some, it must be done if we are going to be vibrant disciples of Christ. To my church’s credit, they accepted my direction and came along for the ride. I was encouraged by their positive response.
But what I didn’t expect to occur was my own change of heart regarding giving. Most of you know the financial challenges that many pastors face. And we also feel it. But over the course of this series, I felt the Lord challenging me to give more to our local church and trust him to provide. So that’s what we’ve committed to do.
I thought my people needed to learn more about stewardship, but it looks like I was the one who needed to learn a thing or two! I’m thankful to be a pastor. What a great place to grow in godliness and learn about leadership.