To Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Your stewardship team is continuing the work of past committees—honoring the past, and moving us into the future.
Christian stewardship is about more than the money we drop into the collection plate. Stewardship is everything we do after we say we believe (John Stotts).
More than something we do, stewards are what we ARE!
Jesus allows us to be generous on His behalf, utilizing all the resources He blesses us with. We are truly ambassadors of Christ, representing Him everywhere we go and in everything we do. What a tremendous, exceptional, awesome gift from our Lord!
And we at First Church have always responded. We have been a faithful church in our financial giving. God has blessed our gifts in mighty ways. We have been generous for many years, and the quality of our church life reflects that.
We have grown as a church: We make more of a difference in our local community. We make more of a difference throughout the world through our missionary teams. We make more of difference in the Christian faith by being a beacon to other churches-a place where "The Spirit is alive and miracles happen!"
We are doing great things, no doubt about it. But we can do better. Now it is time to establish a higher standard-to raise the bar and expand the scope of stewardship to God's standard as He defines it in the Bible.
We bet you didn't know that there was more to stewardship than money!
We need to know what God expects. So "stewardship" this year will be mostly education. We are using the Effective Stewardship Curriculum from the Acton Institute for the training. It is a remarkable and exciting video-based series that divides stewardship into five categories:
Our Talents and Skills
Loving our Neighbor
Church and Family
Finances and Giving
The video and study guides are available to Growth Groups, and classes are being formed for people not in Growth Groups. We urge you to call Marilyn Danielson at 860.529.1575, x213, and sign up for a class.
Our goal is that everyone in our church family will participate in the study. Many already have, and all have walked away impressed and delighted. Many have asked to take it again! The class inspires, educates, and encourages.
Other things will change as well. There will not be a Stewardship Campaign with defined start and finish dates. Stewardship begins when we first believe and ends when we meet Jesus personally. We will, however, provide ongoing education and support for stewardship; more on that to come.
Pledging will no longer be the focus of stewardship. If you are a person who uses pledging as a personal discipline about your giving, pledge cards will be available to you on the tables in the Connector and steeple entrance, and at the reception desk. Fill one out and turn it into the Finance Office. They will track your pledge as they always have, with reports in your giving statement in the normal way.
If you do not use pledging as a personal discipline, then you do not need to fill out a pledge card, or turn one in. Maybe you would want to fill one out for yourself and use it as a reminder, perhaps as a bookmark. The choice is yours.
Regardless of whether or not you use a pledge card, you will still receive the same giving statement you have always received.
Speaking of bookmarks, one will be provided by the Stewardship Team, available in the same places as the pledge cards. Other materials relating to stewardship will also be provided. There will be a sheet that discusses the Vision of Stewardship for First Church. Another is a Stewardship Participation Form where you can offer your help to others, or ask for help for yourself or a loved one. Over time, there will be even more. Check them out for yourself!
As discussed in TheSpire, we are all stewards, and we are all stewarded. We all bring something to the table, and we all need something from it, too. We are Christ's ambassadors, representing Him on earth-we need to work together to ensure we represent Him the best we can, so when we meet Him, we will hear...
"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'"
—Matthew 25:21 (ESV)
We are going to have a great time! Expect great things!