Dear Faithful Followers,
St e w a r d s h i p ! Are you still reading? Good! Most Pastors will run away from the mention of stewardship and most congregations get uneasy in their pews when the topic comes up, but I want you to stay with me. It won’t be hurtful or even ugly. We will talk about money, but Stewardship is about living the life God commands us to live. Stewardship is about trusting that God will provide. Chances are you’ve heard about Time, Talent and Treasure so many times before. I was actually surprised when I came back to St. Matthew to see that we don’t do pledge cards. Generosity and Whole-life Stewardship are the words I want to focus on this month.
Why February? In most Churches, November or December is Stewardship month (end of the year giving is always nice). Valentine’s day! If we are going to have a Hallmark Holiday why not use it to remember God’s promises to us and give back to God? It is out of love that we need to look at where we are as a Church and what can we be doing to live up to God’s words?
First, we need to define the word Steward. Did you know steward comes from the word sty-warden or someone who manages the ruler’s meat supply? As it applies to us, a steward is someone who manages someone’s house affairs. So when we talk about money, we aren’t talking about our money, we are talking about money that God has provided us. If you are a new Christian or a young Christian, this concept may be new to you. But if you are a more mature Christian you may have forgotten that it was God who has provided for you since day one. You see, it isn’t about just giving 10% or giving to the Church to do what we want to do with it. It is a lifestyle. It is about trusting in the Lord.
Some members are Faithful givers who have given each week for years. We applaud you for making that commitment to the Lord, but even if you are giving each week, you may not be a good steward. I find most young adults have a hard time giving or following the examples God gives us and the command God tells us. We are lacking in trust that God will protect and provide for us. We are like the Israelites in the desert complaining about where our next meal will be coming from. GOD COMMANDS US to give back to Him what He has given to you. Now, don’t be confused and think that just because I give everything, I will somehow magically become rich in money. That’s not how it works. God can certainly bless you with riches beyond belief; and if He does, then you should be giving back in full force. A challenge for anyone who is struggling to give each week would be to set aside a dollar amount that you will give every week. In fact, go to www.bit.ly/givetogod or our website www.stmatthew.info and set up a weekly automatic giving plan. This is what I do, so I know each week I am giving to the Lord. Start with an amount that you feel comfortable with. Then set goals to increase that amount as you learn to Trust God. Continue to do this until you are giving your first fruits to God. If you are mature in your Christian faith, I still challenge you to trust God and see how blessed you will be by giving to the Lord.
Where does your (or God’s) money go?
I once had a conversation with someone who didn’t have a clue where the offering went each week. Sure, we know it to be true that it helps pay bills and payroll, but it is also true that it allows us to make updates around the Church and School. Just because we are a Church and are tax exempt, doesn’t mean we get free stuff for everything! Even communion wine costs money. Every dollar that enters the Church is designated to the general fund or specific funds. This helps us continue to do the Mission of the Church and follow God’s Words to us. Just like it is not your money but God’s money that you give to the Church, it is not our money, it is still God’s money to do His will: To reach out, to educate, and to nurture through the Gospel.
As mentioned before, we have some major projects that we need to complete. Part of the building is more than 70 years old. Even the ‘new’ areas are over 20 years old! Just to keep things up-to-date costs money. Times have changed for Churches and Schools and as mentioned in the December letter, safety is a huge concern for visiting families for both the Church and School. I received a quote to update our PA system, connecting the new hallway making sure that people in the Fellowship Hall, Gym, Church, or even outside are able to hear announcements, drills, or emergencies – the quote was $52,000. S Another quote for boiler fixes was another $20,000. To fix leaks in the roof, the worst sections would cost $30,000 and the entire roof (minus the Church peak--which also needs work) is $140,000. This is in addition to monthly bills for utilities/mortgage/payroll. It is assumed that fixing some of these issues will help lower utility bills, but time will tell.
See how easy it is to get focused on dollar amounts when we are talking about stewardship? We have income and expenses. We either don’t have enough income or we have too many expenses. We can cut costs as much as possible or increase revenue by everyone giving more in the offering plate. This is one way to look at increasing revenue. Another way is by adding more members or students--which is also true.
Let’s look at it this way - Because you are giving back to the Lord, we are able to:
† Minister to kids (the last 70 years) with a top-notch education both academically and spiritually
† Witness kids come to Christ for the first time, get baptized and have their family learn about God
† Provide a ministry that creates blankets for the lost, sick, and homeless
† Offer a ministry that is founded in the Word of God that praises Him each week so we can receive the Word and Sacraments
What other ministries are we able to have because of Faithful Followers?
This past weekend after Sunday School while we were at breakfast, Trevor made this statement: ‘It's the first time in the year and a half we have been here that it seems like we have a real Sunday School class.’ He was amazed that we had 7 or 8 children learning about God. How blessed are we to have Mr. MacKay teach Sunday School for the last 30-ish years! How blessed are we that when it was just 1 or 2 kids each week, he didn’t give up on teaching the youth!
STEWARDSHIP is a lifestyle. Yes, we need money. More importantly, we need Faithful Givers that are Faithful Followers. We need to reach out, educate and nurture our own families, members and the community.
You see stewardship isn’t a bad thing. To quote the popular TV show The Mandalorian: ‘This is the Way.’
Serving the Master Teacher,