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MINISTRY FINANCES

“God expects us to give not as an afterthought, but as our top financial priority.”, – Alex Cook

What can ordinary people do to help their congregation grow as faithful stewards?

Oct 18, 2021 | MINISTRY, Stewardship | 0 comments

By Patrick Johnson

Jay and his wife Carrie are semi-retired and live on a ranch outside the city with their two dogs — Boomer and Gus. They’ve got a warm and easy-going way about them. No rush…a simple enjoyment of life.

Yet they are making a big impact in helping others within their congregation grow as faithful stewards.

This impact starts with how they’ve lived out their own stewardship journey. They’ve owned large businesses, made lots of money, enjoyed the fruit of success, and served faithfully.

Yet they decided five years ago to make a change.

They made some purposeful decisions. They started paying off debt, giving regularly, selling their possessions, and making intentional choices to live more simply in order to give more generously.

Faithful stewardship is often more caught than taught. And we catch it best up close and personal.

Some friends in their church started noticing the difference in Jay and Carrie’s lives. This led to hours of conversations at the ranch about lifestyle choices, raising wise kids, paying off debt, voluntary service, and other related issues.

These conversations had a big impact on their friends, Kent and Kirsten. Kent is a doctor who felt the pressure of a demanding job and an expanding lifestyle which included owning multiple properties. They decided to sell their homes and downsize to a simple, more manageable existence. And Jay and Carrie walked alongside them during times of fear, and the questioning of their choices that ran countercultural to what others expected.

Faithful stewardship multiplies in community.

It’s so easy to “what if” ourselves out of God-guided adventures in how He leads us in stewardship. We often shrink back unless there is someone cheering us along the way.

Both Jay and Kent were actively serving in their church. And they began to dream about how the church might look differently as well. So, the two men humbly challenged “the status quo” by having conversations with key leaders within the church about the way the church practiced faithful stewardship.

The culture of a church reflects the lives of the leaders.

So often when you see a church struggling in its corporate stewardship it is a symptom of leaders struggling in their personal stewardship journey. The two are often intertwined.

As a result of these conversations the church started to think about stewardship and service more purposefully.

This larger group reasoned together. What if faithful stewardship was more about spiritual formation than fund-raising? What does God want for peoples’ whole lives rather than just from them in the area of financial stewardship? What does it look like to live more simply so that we can give and serve more generously as a local
congregation of Christ-followers?

You see, what Jay and Carrie created a ripple-effect. It led others to address deep-rooted issues in their lives and spread through the whole church. And this all happened outside of a stewardship class or program. This was life-on-life stewardship discipleship.

From Andy Crouch I have learned that culture is changed by three people sitting around a table dreaming about a different future.

Jay and Carrie are an ordinary couple. So are Kent and Kirsten. But they shaped the culture of their congregation by the way they chose to live and by the example their lives set before the congregation. It spread through their relationships.

Jesus gave us more than an invitation when He said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). He gave us a model, and it still works today.

This article was first published by ChristianSuper.

 

Author Bio: Patrick has been working with church leaders for over a decade. In 2003, he developed the church strategy at Generous Giving — helping churches spread the transformational message of generosity. He also created the Generous Church Toolkit from the best-selling book by Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle, and worked with Leadership Network to form Generous Church Leadership Communities. From 2007-2010, Patrick oversaw the church strategy for The National Christian Foundation. Over the past 5 years, Patrick and the GenerousChurch team have taken over 70 churches through the Generosity Pathway, equipping their leaders to cultivate givers who are generous in every area of life. Currently, Patrick directs the vision of GenerousChurch and lives in Olathe, Kansas, with his wife, Jennifer, and their children.

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