Stewardship Series

This month we have been working through a stewardship series.  We have talked about how we need to be stewards of ourselves, our relationship, our time and (this coming Sunday) our money.

All of these thing are in all of our lives.

All of these things come from God.

How we steward all of these things show us how well we understand the Gospel.

That’s really what stewardship as a follower of Jesus is all about: the Gospel.

Jesus has rescued us, and he wants us to tell that good news to others.  If we look at all the things in our lives as just our things, and not opportunities to move the Gospel forward then we are missing the point.

It’s all about the Gospel.

Stewardship [or] All About (all) the Benjamins

I am currently working on a series of sermons about Stewardship.  As a pastor, when I use the word stewardship the common assumption is that I’m going to talk about money.  If I say, I’m doing a series on stewardship, people hear, “Here come four week talking about money, give more, give more, give more.”

Can I be completely honest and vulnerable about something here on my blog.  (I’m going to anyway so deal with it.)  I hate this common understanding of stewardship.  I hate it because it is just too narrow.

Am I going to talk about money?  Yes.  1 week.  Am I going to talk about tithing and giving offerings?  Yes.

I have said before and I will say again, I will never apologize for talking about money at Creekside because no one is getting rich at Creekside.  If all of a sudden all the pastors pull up in Bentleys then we will start apologizing for talking about money so much.  (Just between you and me, we are so far from that becoming a possibility.)

Another part of my problem with the common understanding of stewardship is that all that matters is Tithes and Offerings.  These stewardship campaigns often feel like, the goal is simply to increase tithes and offerings.  To give a shot in the arm for the year to make sure that we keep making budget.  Ministry has expenses, there is no way around that, and at Creekside we try to run a pretty tight ship to make sure that we are getting the most of the resources that people have given in tithes and offerings.  So it’s important to talk about the importance of giving, and we do that every week.

But stewardship, and specifically talking about financial stewardship is more than just tithes and offerings.  God cares about every penny that you spend.  And he cares because he gave it to you, and he wants you to use it towards his purposes in the world and his purposes for your life.

Pay your bills, enjoy your life, there is nothing wrong with doing these things.  But stewardship is so much bigger than just making sure people tithe.  Tithes and offerings are a key indicator in spiritual growth and if people are truly trusting God, but so is whether or not you are spending wrecklessly on credit, or if you are neglecting your financial responsibilites.

All of that is also stewardship.

I think we would all benefit, church attenders and church leaders, to take into account that God has called us all to be disciples, not just on Sunday but every day where ever we go.  And not just with 10% of our gross income, but with every dollar.  God cares about all of our life, and how we are using all that he has given to us to advance his mission of grace to the world.  And he cares about the Benjamins, all of them, as well as the little copper Lincolns.

Giving and Receiving / Closed Hand or Open Hand?

I had a conversation the other day that troubled me.  It forced me to check my priorities.  It comes down to giving and receiving.

I have to thank Mark Driscoll for giving me this image of Closed and Open Handed

In life we can be a closed handed or open handed.

I think the tendency is to look at our lives and our accomplishments, careers, family, stuff, dreams and aspirations and put them in a closed hand.  This is my stuff, this is my career, this is my time, this is my money.

I don’t think this is gospel living at all.

We don’t own the gospel we receive it.  And we can’t receive anything with closed hands.  If we are so focused on holding on to our stuff then we will miss out on receiving the things that God wants to bring into our lives.

If we live with an open hand we realize that all the things that are in our lives are temporary and we are not owners but stewards.

It’s not your time, it’s not your money, it’s not your family, it’s not your career, it’s not your stuff.  All things things are gifts from God.  If you want to honor God with your whole life then you need to hold all these things with an open hand.  You have to be willing to let go of some things to receive something else.

If I am not willing to give these blessings back to God then I should not expect to receive any other blessings from God.  If I hold on to these blessings to tightly, I will kill them.

So who are you?  Are you a closed hand or an open hand person?