Stewardship: A Baptismal Covenant
by Kathye Hamm
In one of my conversations I had about church property with the leadership of a congregation, I was glad that instead of just talking about the building we all agreed to talk about Stewardship (with a focus on the property). Stewardship truly encompasses a lot in our ministry. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that Stewardship is also one of our challenges, be it about time, gifts, or resources, including finance and the mounting challenges of care for creation.
For this article, I want to focus on money. It is perhaps frustrating that our culture of individualism supported and promoted by market capitalism make the conversation of personal finance and our relationship with money more challenging, treating it more as a private conversation than a communal discernment, practice and growth as disciples. Luther himself had very strong message on this matter as we know (for another article though).
A speaker at our recent Synod Council Meeting, Pastor Margaret J. Marcuson, began her book, “Money and your Ministry” with chapter one: “Know what you believe about Money.” She shared three areas to reflect upon on this area of stewardship:
- Start with the Bible. I know that all of us bring the richness of the scripture in the conversation of stewardship. Whatever role we play, we ground our faith and practice on a bible verse that spoke to us deeply. With many stories, parables, community experiences about money in the scripture, what are the ones that speak to you the most?
- Learn from the Church’s history. We thank those who have gone before us, for both their challenges and mistakes, joys and discoveries. From their experiences we can draw relevant understanding in our present context about money and possessions – be our context urban, suburban, rural or big or small congregation or in period of transition or stability. Pastor Marcuson focused her reflection on this topic with three points that are quite telling already about the challenges we face right now: Total trust in God, Put Money in its Place, and Sacrificial Giving. As we all know, Martin Luther has so much to say about this practically and ethically.
- Keeping our Perspective about Money. One of the things that I myself sometimes overlook about stewardship is my own upbringing about money and possessions. What Pr. Marcuson highlights is how relationships impact our understanding and practice of stewardship, including our relationship to money and possessions, and also our relationships with each other, coming from various perspectives about money in our lives. The important thing is to know our own perspective and appreciate how we evolve as we learn from one another, mature in our faith, and grow in biblical and faith understanding on stewardship.
I shared this simple reflection theme from this one resource knowing that you have some more to add to this list. There are many resources to reflect upon stewardship already out there, some perhaps already fruitful in your own community. I am also aware that some communities follow a year-round stewardship journey – hence, it is truly not a program or a season but an important part of our baptismal call and covenant. Indeed, it is a gift and yet a challenge too.
Living up the value of collaboration and being connected to one other, here is a compilation of ecumenical resources from the Ecumenical Stewardship Center entitled, “Living Courageously” Vol. 20. This resource is an annual stewardship emphasis that contains reflective and practical articles that you can contextualize in your communities.
For other resources from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, see http://resources.elca.org/Products-Stewardship.html where there are resources both in English and Spanish.
I also invite you to share what you are using in your own community for reflection on money and how it is relevant to our faith. I would be grateful to hear from you so we can share this even wider in our synod and beyond.
Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop
August 20, 2019
August 13, 2019
August 06, 2019