When a church enters into the “Effective Stewardship” program, we try through a variety of means to communicate the message that the program is not a “quick fix” to a church’s long-term financial problems. Even in a church which is not having financial difficulty but which adopts the program in order to train its people in scriptural principles concerning money, material possessions and giving, the effort takes time.
Why is this true? After all, shouldn’t the program begin to produce results from the very outset of its use in a church? That all depends on the church, its past stewardship training, its receptivity to new ideas, etc. For example, if a church has had a regular program of instruction concerning financial principles, the results (though positive) will be less dramatic than in a church in which this area has not been emphasized.
Remember that our primary concern is not next Sunday’s offering, but rather, the offerings two or three years from now. We are seeking to build on whatever foundation has been laid in a church in the past as we try to use both printed and spoken media to communicate the truths of God’s Word.
Most of the churches which begin the “Effective Stewardship” program remain in it. Although a church can discontinue the program on 30 days’ notice, it is always a disappointment to us when that happens. In most cases, we sense that a lack of patience caused a premature cancellation of the program.
Since the Communiqué is designed for pastors and Lay Coordinators of churches using “Effective Stewardship: Building on Biblical Principles,” this question needs to be addressed by our readers: What should be your approach as you evaluate the effectiveness of the program?
As the little chorus goes, “Have patience.” You do not plant a seed in the ground and then pull it up every few days to see what progress it is making. Instead, you allow it to remain out of sight, undisturbed, doing “its thing.” The same is true of the “Effective Stewardship” program. It is best left undisturbed where it can grow and produce a harvest. Just as a seed planted in the earth eventually will produce a harvest if it is watered and fertilized properly, this program will produce a harvest if it is used as designed and allowed to function properly.
The reason we can be confident this will happen is because our confidence is not in the program or the materials which comprise the program. Our confidence is in God, who has promised to honor the Scriptures and to cause them to prosper (Isa. 55:10-11).