Insights from Pastor Steve
LCM is a Stewardship Church
St Luke’s Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Wyoming has a humor site on its web page entitled, “You might be a Lutheran if. . .
. . .you make change in the offering plate for a ten.
. . .a line item in the annual budget is ‘coffee maker maintenance.’
. . .the most mail you receive all year is from the Stewardship Committee.”
We smile because it’s uncomfortable for some of us Lutherans to talk about money.
Pastor Bruce Johnston, whom I admire greatly, didn’t have trouble talking about money. If you have such difficulty, he said, perhaps you have made money your god. Every November, he printed his previous year’s tax returns in the church newsletter indicating not only his income and his expenses but the list of charities and the amount he gave to each. He and his wife set a goal to contribute 20% of their income. Once that decision was made, he and his wife enjoyed sitting down and deciding what charities would receive their gifts.
Pastor Johnston also knew the giving pattern of each member of his church; he believed giving was a sign of one’s spiritual health; as pastor and spiritual counselor to the members, he would visit members who were in ill health spiritually, whose giving did not match the sign of wealth they displayed. He would provide spiritual health care, prescribing tithing, beginning with percentage giving as therapy to improve spiritual health.
Stewardship is not an option in the life of a Christian, it is a command of Jesus. In Jesus Christ we are freed to care for all of God’s creation by giving freely of our time, talents and resources. Generosity is a vital habit of good spiritual health.
Too easily we reduce our Lutheran Church of the Master to a place from which we receive. We do receive much from LCM: baptisms, marriages, funerals, communion, Christian education for our children, friendships, opportunities to hear music from one of eight choirs, and the good news of Jesus Christ. But a focus only on what we get out of LCM turns us into selfish spiritual consumers. LCM is much more: LCM is where generosity is nurtured, generosity is cultivated, and where generosity blossoms within us both as individuals and as community.
Following Jesus includes giving of my time, talents and treasure.
John Wesley once preached about money: “It is an excellent gift of God answering the noblest ends. In the hands of God’s children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked: It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. It is therefore of the highest concern that all who fear God know how to employ this valuable talent.”
Many members of LCM give generously. Some need to cultivate within a spirit of generosity. A good beginning is percentage giving, giving a percentage of income to the church, leading eventually to tithing. November is Stewardship month at LCM, when every member is asked to make a financial commitment to the church.
A stewardship church is a church with a common vision. Jeff Elrod said it well: God is the source of all, everything received is a gift; we aren’t owners, we are stewards or caretakers committed to furthering the Word and work of Christ by caring for each other and all of God’s creation. In gratitude, we joyfully give back a portion of our God-given gifts of time, talent and treasure.
The Church Council will soon prepare a 2018 budget, and they depend on your commitment in order to propose at the Annual Meeting how we together as a congregation will use our resources.
More important, however, is our spiritual health. Our spiritual well-being depends on a generous heart, on a habit, a practice of regular giving.
John Wesley wrote, “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”