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Thursday, October 11, 2007

stewardship as worship

What is Christian stewardship?


At Good Shepherd, we are interested in doing “good ministry” – particularly that to which we believe God has called us. We are likewise interested in being “good stewards” of money that is given to the church. It is tempting to equate and define stewardship from the “receiving end” and get wrapped up in justifying programs, creating and balancing a budget, and encouraging tithing or sacrificial giving for the sake of the ministries to which we are called as a church.


However, this is getting the cart before the horse, as well-intentioned as it may be. Stewardship is first and foremost an act of personal and corporate WORSHIP, a faith-full response to the being and character of the Triune God we experience in Spirit, Truth, and Christian community.


In scripture, “stewardship” and being a “steward” has to do with serving a higher authority through wise use of that which belongs to the authority (whether God, king, or master). If “the earth and all it contains is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1), then all that we are and all that we have belong to God. Our stewardship is not a tax, tithe, token, or charitable gift, but our complete and obedient service to God. That is the definition of worship in the broad sense.


What about tithing? Tithing was part of the Law, intended to “train spiritual children” (Galatians 3:24-26). Tithing is not our expected maximum, it is like training wheels until we learn what it means to submit everything we have to God as an act of worship.


What I am saying? I’m not trying to create a cult where all the members sign over their worldly possessions to me! Rather, I recognize that as long as our stewardship is understood as giving that is tied to a budget and a set of ministries, or even to the concept of a tithe, we have put limits on our worship, just as surely as saying one can only worship with traditional music or King James English.


At Good Shepherd, we have glimpsed the freedom and blessing of worshiping God musically and artistically in Spirit and in Truth, using “every means at our disposal to invite each worshiper into the presence of God” (from the worship philosophy on the back of the bulletin).


Could we discover a similar freedom and expansiveness in terms of our stewardship-worship?


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