“It’s Barely August. Why Am I Talking about Stewardship Now?”

By Steve Kindle

(For the complete post, click here)

 Surprisingly, the church is responsible for leading the word stewardship astray. Brainwashed from pulpit and pew, stewardship has traded its vocation of serving the world for a preoccupation with saving the church. Not until it is rescued from this…can stewardship share in God’s ‘healing of the nations’ (Rev. 22:2). ~Rhodes Thompson, Stewards Shaped by Grace

Why? The short answer: Because keeping it off the table until the pledge drive destroys any hope of its success. A comprehensive understanding of stewardship is called for as its limited application yields limited results in a world that is desperate for comprehensive solutions.
Utter the word “stewardship” in most congregations and thoughts of “Here we go again, more pleading for money,” or “I hope I’m not asked to be on that committee; I hate asking for money,” chill a congregation.  Stewardship is presently equated with money, and money with church budgets. Stewardship drives ironically drive out the incentive for giving by equating it with church need instead of God’s way of recreating the world.
There is little disagreement that our world is as close to self-destruction as it has ever been, humanity included. It is unnecessary to list the wars, political conflicts, diseases, ecological disasters, and the like; we are all too familiar with a daily rehearsal of our plight. What there is little or no agreement on is the way out. How will we, as the human race, (homo sapiens, or “the wise humans”) find our way out of our mutually shared predicament and into a world of wholeness and abundance that the Hebrews named shalom? Is there any wisdom available to us that can lead the way?
Jews and Christians have at their disposal a wisdom that is comprehensive enough to meet the challenges of our time. We understand this wisdom to be a gift from God as we have received it through the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.  The only problem is that we have abandoned it long ago. At least we in the West have, who traded in our bountiful inheritance for a mess of meager pottage known as the consumerist society, and the promotion of the individual over the greater good for all.
My book, Stewardship: God’s Way of Recreating the World, offers a challenge and an appeal. Its challenge is to reconnect with the ancient wisdom that first conceived of a world after God’s own heart. Its appeal is to take up the mission we pray for so often, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  God’s will for God’s creation is not hidden or kept solely for the initiate. It is not beyond the ability of the lowliest disciple or too inconsequential for the highest. To rediscover and then implement our sapiential heritage is not only vital, it is our highest calling as humans, and the way out of our current and continuing crisis.
In the next two posts, I will offer a comprehensive view of stewardship that will reconnect us and our congregations with the most important work for our day: collaborating with God in the work of recreating the world. This is not a topic that can wait ’till November! I encourage you to engage these posts with your own observations and critiques, and I look forward to hearing from you. And do pass them on if you find them valuable. Thank you!
Here’s a link to a comprehensive book review by  Bob Cornwall: http://www.bobcornwall.com/search?q=Stewardship

Stewardship: God Way of Recreating the World can be ordered from Energion Publications at http://direct.energion.co/authors/authors-d-k/steve-kindle

8 Responses

        • Steve, you did a great job! Stewardship is a very important topic. My take on it is a person cannot be a good steward unless he is born again (John 3:3-17). Then he realizes that all he is and “owns” belongs to Jesus, and he wants to give into the kingdom. When my husband Curtis and I committed our lives to Jesus in 1968 and then were filled with the Spirit in 1972, we began to see miracles of provision as we practiced “seed-faith” as taught by Oral Roberts (not the name it-claim it variety). Curtis and I both were called into full-time ministry in 1976. The miracles increased as we gave away furniture, left a good job, and moved into a small parsonage with four children. Curtis rarely preached on money in his churches, but there was never a financial need. Leaving the Methodist ministry and forming an independent “Spirit-filled” church in 1991, we saw even greater financial prosperity as we gave ten percent of the church income to other fruitful ministries. The recipient missionaries came to our church to give reports, and mission groups from our church went out in ministry also. As for recreating the world, Jesus said, “”Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the REGENERATION when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29″And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.…” (Matt. 19:28-29). This promise is for Jesus’ apostles, but since I believe in my Jewish Messiah, I am grafted into the Jewish olive tree (Rom. 11), so I am included in this promise! HOWEVER, I think you may have meant by “recreating the world,” the Jewish philosophy of “repairing the world” (Tikkun Olam in Hebrew), which just means helping people. I agree with you. We should be loving our neighbor as ourselves, regarding stewardship of our resources. The greatest resource we have is the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Our calling card can be humanitarian aid, but without the gospel, it is impotent to change lives.

          • Tikkun Olam certainly means helping people, but it’s a very programed way of doing so based on the Jubilee. If we were to live by Jubilee principles, as endorsed by Jesus in Luke 4, the world would, indeed, be recreated.

          • Jubilee “principles” – His platform (Luke 4:18-19) – “acceptable year of the Lord”? Is that what you mean, referring to Leviticus 25? Whee! We actually are entering a Jubilee year on Sept. 14th this year. Unfortunately, Sept. 13, also Elul 29 on the Jewish calendar, portends financial collapse in the U.S. It will be the end of the Shemitah year. Our two greatest financial nosedives have happened in 2001 on Elul 29 on the reopening of the stock market after 9-11 and then exactly 7 years later in 2008, another stock market crash! On Sept. 28th is the 4th blood moon of the tetrad that will occur at the beginning of Sukkot, prophetic of Jesus beginning his millennial reign. We are living in exciting times!

  • Faithfulness is the mark of a good steward. Nice link to the tikkun olam also. The role of the Anointed is both costly and continuous. This is a good idea for a book – I am glad you have written one on it.

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