During my years of ministry at Central City UCC, there was a provision in the congregation’s by-laws that a stewardship message be given by the pastor each year. We talked and wondered and chuckled about the source and meaning of this particular by-law. What was going on in the meetings where this rule was shaped? Is the intention of the by-law to raise the spiritual discipline of stewardship by requiring pastors to address this essential discipleship practice once each year? Or…is the intention of the by-law to protect the congregation from whatever would be imagined as too much money talk by limiting the stewardship messages to one annually? What is the implied modifier? Is the pastor being asked to preach “at least” once each year on the spiritual discipline of giving or “only” once each year?
As you read from the gospels each day in your prayer time, you recognize that Jesus had a lot to say about money. His stewardship messages were more nearly daily than yearly. He cast divine light into our pockets. He assures us that each decision we make about money is a decision about faith and following.
I write today to invite each of us (not just the preachers, but each of us) to give at least (not only!) one stewardship message a year. Let’s each have a conversation, a conversation that involves both our voices speaking and our hearts listening, about the spiritual discipline of giving in our lives.
- If we share household financial decisions with others, let’s have a conversation with those money partners about how we want to follow Jesus with our pocket money, our bank accounts, and our investments.
- If there are children and youth in our homes, let’s have a conversation with those who are watching us to see what we really believe. Let’s talk about how we follow Jesus with our money and let’s help them discover how they might follow Jesus with their money.
- In our congregations – at an adult class, at Bible study, at a committee meeting, at after-worship fellowship time– let’s start up a conversation about giving. This conversation wouldn’t be about our congregation’s budget. It would be about our budget and the stirrings of the Spirit in our hearts and our daily decisions, a conversation about delights and about struggles.
Send them in! Pass them on! Let us know what you were moved to say in your stewardship message this month!
Thanking God for you!
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister