In 1861, Charles Dickens wrote his novel, Great Expectations, in which he revealed the corruption in members of society whose expectations centered on acquiring a fortune and being supported in luxury by the labors of others. That novel was an all-time classic, and its title makes an ideal subject for this issue of the Communiqué.
Pastors and laity have “great expectations when beginning any new program, including the “Effective Stewardship” program. Some of those expectations may be very realistic; others may be less so.
For example, some users of the “Effective Stewardship” program expect it to work nothing short of a quick miracle by turning around a desperate financial situation in a church overnight. But that is an expectation which is not based on reality. Churches in desperate straits financially did not get that way overnight. Although the “Effective Stewardship” program will bring about a positive change in a church’s financial situation, this takes time and usually does not happen very quickly.
Others expect the program to cause an immediate increase in giving and overall financial support of the church. (Their total focus is on the short-term, especially on next Sunday’s offering.) Sometimes that happens, but in large measure, the degree and rapidity with which it happens depends on what has been done concerning stewardship education and training in the past in a church. Thus, some churches experience an immediate significant increase in contributions; others see results over a longer period of time.
What should you expect from your use of the “Effective Stewardship” program? You should expect:
- People in your congregation will be trained to be better stewards based upon the principles and teachings of Scripture.
- That, over time, contributions and overall financial support of the church should increase.
- A heightened awareness on the part of your congregation concerning God’s claims on the ownership of their money and material possessions.
- Some criticism and even outright opposition as God’s Word convicts the lives of people who have not been exposed to this teaching or who know the truths presented in the program, but who have not obeyed them.
- That God will honor the Word (Isa. 55:10-11) as you faithfully plant the seeds of the Scripture, realizing that God will produce a harvest.