At this time of year we usually hear about money a lot when we come to church or read church publications. October and November are traditionally known as “Stewardship Season” across the country so that parish finance committees and leadership bodies can know what kind of income to expect for the coming year as they create their operating budget for the year to come. Across denominations and faith traditions, the most reported major source of congregational income is what individuals contribute through their offerings, pledges, donations, and dues. In short, most churches operate on what individuals give. This is true of St. Paul’s as well; we operate on the gifts of parishioners and the rental income received from the Bethlehem School. We build our budget around these two sources of income. Our Stewardship Campaign will begin on October 6th and run through November 17th. During this time we’ll be asking you to consider prayerfully what you can give to St. Paul’s to keep us as vital and vibrant as possible as we seek to learn, live, and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
You’ve also been hearing us talk about our Capital Campaign, which we launched to help us pay for all the fabulous renovations and improvements that were made to our facility this past summer. This is a separate campaign with an entirely different purpose. The Stewardship Campaign is for our regular ongoing operating expenses; we do this every year. The Capital Campaign, on the other hand, is for the building project that we completed this summer to celebrate our 100th birthday and to prepare for the next hundred years. A capital campaign, by definition, is an intense effort on the part of a nonprofit organization to raise significant dollars in a specified period of time (five years in our case). Usually the money raised is to fund acquiring or renovating a building, but often the campaign’s focus is on building an endowment for the future. In some cases, campaigns are initiated to fund extraordinary expenditures of a capital nature, such as an expensive piece of equipment for a hospital, or the new electronic organ we installed at St. Paul’s at Eastertide in 2011.
We hope you will stay tuned in to both campaigns as we continue to communicate our progress on each. We rely on your generosity as we seek to be true to those familiar words from the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And we happily provide all budgeting and finance information as widely, thoroughly, and transparently as possible.
As Sonia and I pray about how much to give to each campaign we begin by asking ourselves, “What did Jesus say about money? How would he have us be good stewards of our resources?” It turns out that Jesus had plenty to say about money. And when anchored in Jesus' teaching, our money can be all that God intends for our part in advancing his Kingdom, in ministering to the needs of others, and in providing for our needs according to the resources he has allowed us to receive.
Below you will find a summary of Scripture’s teachings on money. I hope you will find this helpful as we walk through our financial campaigns together.
Jesus taught that a proper and necessary use of money is to support the Lord's work through the religious institutions the Lord established (Matthew 23:23; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 8:1-3). In the Old Testament, it was the tabernacle and the temple; in Jesus' day, it was Herod's temple; in ours, it is the local church. The Lord’s command to bring the tithes and offerings was not predicated on how holy the priests were (Malachi 2 and 3; Mark 11:15-18) or, in our day, whether or not we like the priest or pastor. It was predicated on obedience and surrender to his Lordship over all we are and have, as together we work to do God’s will. All that we have comes from God, and so we use all our resources to advance God’s Kingdom.
Jesus taught that we should use our financial resources to help the poor and needy through benevolence (Luke 10:29-37; 18:18-25; James 2:15-17) and through our support of missions and ministry (Luke 8:1-3; 10:1-9).
Jesus taught that we should use our material possessions to meet essential family needs (Matthew 7:7-12; Mark 7:9-13; compare 1 Timothy 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10).
Jesus taught that we should exercise careful money management and exercise shrewd wisdom prior to making any purchase (Luke 14:28-30). (I reckon that means no more online impulse buying.)
Jesus taught, particularly through his frequent illustrations of stewards (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 16:1-13) and farming (Matthew 13:8, 23; John 4:34-38), that it is appropriate, and even expected by the Lord, to invest our resources for long-term gain and/or financial security.
Jesus taught that we should not depend upon our resources, but upon God, as the source of our supply, trusting him to meet our essential family needs (Matthew 6:9-13, 19-34; Luke 12:22-34).
Jesus taught that, since we are merely stewards, we should invest ourselves into the lives of others, and not hoard our resources for ourselves (Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 6:30-38; 10:25-37; 12:15-21).
Jesus taught that we should not use the power of money to lord it over others
I hope these verses can help us all to create a thoughtful and prayerful “Rule of Life” for our own personal stewardship of the resources with which we have been entrusted, such as money.