Reflections from the 2015 Stewardship Summit

Posted by Matthew Thomas

matthew-thomas-2The 2015 Stewardship Summit was held from the 6th to the 8th of January, 2015. The three days were packed with content, interaction with speakers, and good side-conversations. It is certainly worth attending in 2016! 

Here are some first thoughts from the Summit:

1. Stewardship has become a theory of everything:

... a stance of how we relate to the things we manage

... we manage everything on behalf of others or Another

... this includes money, but also time, organizations, the environment, our bodies, and everything else we hold on God's behalf.

 

2. For many churches and ministries, stewardship has become a euphamism for the solicitation of funds:

... conversation is all about how members' funds are to be used on God's behalf

... and the way God uses them is through the church

... the term has been co-opted and often only speaks of the members' relationship to money, and how that can then be directed to the church

... not only is this confusing, but it moves stewardship from discipleship and generosity toward mere funding.

3. Generosity is a strong descriptor for an attitude and character that leads to giving and serving and offering.

... if institutions only speak about generosity in the context of their own fundraising, it sounds a false note

... generosity builds organizationally when the whole enterprise is in alignment

... generosity has a theological basis in the life of the church so that all may have what they need to thrive

4. Internationally, we must be very aware of how our generosity affects others.

... dependency relationships stifle maturity, growth and discipleship

... generosity must find ways of being multi-directional

5. Further theology, study, and understanding of generosity and stewardship could benefit the church as a whole and its constituent members and organizations.

What did you see, hear, and learn at the Summit?

 


 

You can receive the papers from the first Summit by clicking the button below.

Papers from the 1st Stewardship Summit

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Topics: stewardship studies, Stewardship Development, generosity, Stewardship summit

Growing Generosity - One Couple's Story

Posted by Matthew Thomas

Here at Design Group International, we work with many steward leaders and organizations to increase their capacity for generosity. Mark has written on measuring generosity effectiveness, and much more on generosity elsewhere. Today, I’d like to share a quick story about how one small change in a couple’s approach to giving drastically improved their capacity.

A newlywed couple came to their marriage both valuing giving, and both having practiced giving 10% of their income on a monthly basis. They always gave the whole amount to their church, and agreed that they would base their percentage of giving off of their take-home pay.

matthew-thomas-2After about six months of marriage, the couple took a personal finance course at their church. They both considered themselves pretty good money managers, but they typically managed money differently. They also discovered that they had disagreements about where they should spend the money they had and how they should track spending and savings goals. As they began to budget together, they discovered that they could pay off debt faster than they realized, and found other ways of saving money, like cutting the cable television subscription they barely used. They began prioritizing savings creation and debt reduction, and soon found that their finances had stabilized and that, with rare exception, they were able to live within their means each month without using their savings except to make large purchases, since they were not using credit cards to do so.

About a year after that, they began to look for ways to deepen the connection between their faith and money, and engaged in a Bible study on the topic of money together as a couple over a period of two months. As that study concluded, they chose to take the risk to start giving more. However, they chose to give the new portion differently than the portion they had before: they would give it to people they knew who had needs – emergencies or otherwise – or to bless people they did not normally give gifts to.  They would prayerfully target and direct these funds each month.

This couple found that giving to the church ministry institutions they donated to was essential, because those entities could impact many people all at once. Moreover, they received tax deductions from those organizations under US law as charitable contributions. Nevertheless, once they began the practice of blessing others – sometimes with direct financial gifts, other times with gifts in kind – they found that their generosity capacity increased drastically.

First, they began looking for opportunities to give. This re-engaged them in the giving process, and made them more aware of needs around them.

Second, they found themselves more apt to give things to others that had actual value – rather than trying to sell things, throw things away, or just give away junk stuff.

Third, they found places where the institutions they gave to didn’t have the capacity to meet certain needs that they themselves did as a couple.

Fourth, they found that when they had a need themselves, people were more generous with them – and not just as a matter of reciprocation. They saw the power of a generous community forming.

Fifth, they felt more engaged and empowered as actors in generosity than when they just gave to the institutions they valued. They started to deepen their calling as givers.

As a steward leader, how can you design giving into your life in new ways?

It matters.

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Topics: generosity