By Steve Kindle
Why? The short answer: Because keeping it off the table until the pledge drive destroys any hope of its success. A comprehensive understanding of stewardship is called for as its limited application yields limited results in a world that is desperate for comprehensive solutions.
Utter the word “stewardship” in most congregations and thoughts of “Here we go again, more pleading for money,” or “I hope I’m not asked to be on that committee; I hate asking for money,” chill a congregation. Stewardship is presently equated with money, and money with church budgets. Stewardship drives ironically drive out the incentive for giving by equating it with church need instead of God’s way of recreating the world.
There is little disagreement that our world is as close to self-destruction as it has ever been, humanity included. It is unnecessary to list the wars, political conflicts, diseases, ecological disasters, and the like; we are all too familiar with a daily rehearsal of our plight. What there is little or no agreement on is the way out. How will we, as the human race, (homo sapiens, or “the wise humans”) find our way out of our mutually shared predicament and into a world of wholeness and abundance that the Hebrews named shalom? Is there any wisdom available to us that can lead the way?
Jews and Christians have at their disposal a wisdom that is comprehensive enough to meet the challenges of our time. We understand this wisdom to be a gift from God as we have received it through the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The only problem is that we have abandoned it long ago. At least we in the West have, who traded in our bountiful inheritance for a mess of meager pottage known as the consumerist society, and the promotion of the individual over the greater good for all.
My book, Stewardship: God’s Way of Recreating the World, offers a challenge and an appeal. Its challenge is to reconnect with the ancient wisdom that first conceived of a world after God’s own heart. Its appeal is to take up the mission we pray for so often, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s will for God’s creation is not hidden or kept solely for the initiate. It is not beyond the ability of the lowliest disciple or too inconsequential for the highest. To rediscover and then implement our sapiential heritage is not only vital, it is our highest calling as humans, and the way out of our current and continuing crisis.
In the next two posts, I will offer a comprehensive view of stewardship that will reconnect us and our congregations with the most important work for our day: collaborating with God in the work of recreating the world. This is not a topic that can wait ’till November! I encourage you to engage these posts with your own observations and critiques, and I look forward to hearing from you. And do pass them on if you find them valuable. Thank you!
Here’s a link to a comprehensive book review by Bob Cornwall: http://www.bobcornwall.com/search?q=Stewardship