Effective Stewardship

Living With the Tension

Ken Williams

In his book, Money Isn’t God, John White discusses the tension between the teaching of stewardship and techniques for fund raising. He states:

“Christian leaders have a duty to teach God’s people both the responsibility and the joys of giving. Such teaching has a spiritual goal. Its aim is not to raise money, but to set Christians free from their bondage to money, to teach them the liberty of liberality and thus to increase their joy in the Lord.

“Techniques for fund raising have, on the other hand, a material aim. They do not ask, ‘How can I help the Christian public find freedom?’ They ask, ‘How can I induce the Christian public to cough up?’ The second question may have some validity, but it is of less consequence than the first.

“Christian leaders . . . must ask themselves, ‘Which concerns me more, economic survival for our work or spiritual freedom for God’s people?’ Tension exists between the two goals. It is impossible to be equally concerned with both, and one must take priority over the other.”

As readers of the Communiqué know, “Effective Stewardship: Building on Biblical Principles” is not fund raising. It is education and training based on the principles of Scripture. As such, the primary thrust of the program is not economic survival, but training people to be stewards. That’s why our concern is not next Sunday’s offering as much as it is the offering two and three years down the road.

But there is another type of tension beyond that which John White describes between education and fund raising. Some churches begin using the “Effective Stewardship” program almost in desperation. Their financial situations are in such bad shape that they view this program as a “last resort.” As such, they are watching anxiously to see what kind of results the program will produce. Their anxiety leads to tension. On the one hand, they know that the “Effective Stewardship” program is long-term in nature and that it is not a “quick fix” to a church’s long-term financial problems. On the other hand, they know they must find a remedy to their present predicament.

Make no mistake about it: If it is used in its entirety as it has been designed, the “Effective Stewardship” program heightens a congregation’s awareness of what God’s Word says concerning money, material possessions and giving and usually leads to an increase in giving and overall financial support of a church.

To paraphrase an old proverb, “Convince someone to give, and he gives for a day. Teach someone to give, and he gives for a lifetime.”

Think about it: Which would you rather have — someone who gives for a day or someone who gives for a lifetime?

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