Thursday, May 24, 2012

Faith vs. Stewardship

Faith versus stewardship?? Seems like a misguided battle.  You may be thinking these two principles are so closely linked that I have created an imaginary battle by even stating it.  Maybe. Let’s see.

My current role in fund raising is from the perspective of a missionary agency.  So let me speak to what missionaries are currently seeing in the realm of giving.

In the month of May I have had the same conversation, via email or office visit, with three different missionaries.  The conversation is based on the fact that churches have stopped giving offerings.  A few years ago when a missionary shared at a church, the congregation usually gave a love offering to the missionary to at least cover the cost of coming.  Now it is all too common for a missionary to speak and receive no gift for their time, travel, or ministry.  One missionary said in his last 15 services he received two offerings.

I must admit that as a pastor myself, I am embarrassed when missionaries tell me churches do not give an offering to at least cover the travel to get to the church, or to pay for the time they shared with the church.  After all, the Bible does teach us to pay a worker his wages.

But what has driven the church to not take an offering to cover the ‘wage’ of a speaker? Or what has driven the members of the Body of Christ to stop giving. Many have even stopped giving to the local church itself.

Several individuals have told me their lack of giving is them being good stewards of what God has provided.  I completely understand adjustments in giving when jobs are lost, or income is down.  However to stop giving in the name of stewardship is not biblical and it pits stewardship against faith. 

Stewardship is needed and a must as a follower of Christ.  But the Christian's stewardship is in place to maximize his/her giving to God not to minimize it.  The believer purchases clothes and cars based on what he can afford.  Stewardship is the tool to guide the spending habits of the believer.  The Christian principle of stewardship teaches us to count the cost and not spend more that we can afford.  But remember spending and giving are not the same!!

Faith goes beyond figuring if I can afford an item or not.  Faith says that in giving, the question is not “What can I afford to give?”  Rather the question is, “What is God telling me to give?”  Many have stopped giving in the name of being good stewards.  This is actually bad stewardship.
To stop giving is more a testimony about a person’s faith, not his/her stewardship.  Remember Transformational Giving Principle 1: Every act of giving is first and foremost a statement about the faithfulness of God

Even though it does not appear that faith and stewardship are opposites, misguided applications of these principles has too often pitted them against each other.  God’s desire is for our stewardship to be guided by our faith.  They are to work together.  God may regularly tell you to give more than you can afford, but it is not more than he can provide.  Therefore giving is a matter of faith.  Faith then guides our stewardship.  I would go so far to challenge you that stewardship without faith risks turning into stinginess.

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