eCare - Missions Stewardship

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eCare - Missions Stewardship

Stewardship is that part of Christian discipleship whereby we recognize that everything we have belongs to God as Creator, has been given to us by His grace and must be managed according to His direction.  Therefore, all decisions are stewardship decisions.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Stewardship is not an option; it is a mandate that is at the heart of our walk of faith with Jesus Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are a steward; the only question is What kind of a steward are you? Further, our stewardship extends to everything we have because it all belongs to God and we have it because He, the Owner of all things, gave it to us to manage on His behalf. Our stewardship certainly involves the way we manage our money but it extends far beyond that exercise, as important as that is. Finally, stewardship must be practiced by individuals, families and churches as well. Stewardship is a personal as well as a corporate activity.

Earlier this week I participated in a forum on world missions at the Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City. World Outreach, the world mission arm of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, invited a group to gather for a short, yet intense, conversation about the denomination’s stewardship of the opportunities and responsibilities of taking the Gospel to all nations. The question that focused our two-day discussion was Should we continue to send western missionaries to overseas fields? That a denominational mission agency would ask such a question may seem shocking but, truly, it’s a good question. In fact, it is a corporate stewardship question.

Space and time do not allow me to address the question per se apart from assuring you that there are good reasons for asking the question, some of which are: (1) the cost of sending and keeping western missionaries on the field averages $100-150K per year, (2) difficulty of getting into and staying in certain countries, (3) the toll that overseas service exacts on marriages and families, particularly children, (4) the disinclination of many missionary candidates to remain on the field for the long term, (5) persecution and assassination, (6) the disapprobation of the national and indigenous churches inherent in sending “foreign” missionaries, (7) the association of western missionaries with western culture and politics and the rejection of same; just to name a few.

Let me hasten to add that there are good reasons for the church to continue its practice of sending western missionaries but the church must be more circumspect with regard to who goes, where they go, why they go and what they will be doing – that’s a topic for another time.

The point is that the church has a warrant, a command from our Lord to take the Gospel to all people groups. There is tremendous need all around the world for people to come to Christ. The opportunities and myriad, the responsibility is great. This wonderful and divine enterprise of building the kingdom of God through the spread of the Gospel is devised, owned and promoted by God Himself with the management of it given to His church. Tough questions and hard decisions need to be made but this is the corporate stewardship responsibility of Christ’s church as we manage (steward) His resources for the sake of lost people coming to Christ.

Your Missions Leadership Team provides leadership for the Session and the congregation in the stewardship of spreading the Gospel to those both near and far and, like World Outreach, the MLT often has difficult questions to ask and answer. In times past just about anything that could be remotely identified as “missions” was embraced and supported; ‘missions was/is a good thing and we should pursue good things’ is the way the thinking went. Local churches were encouraged to think and act this way because many mission agencies promoted missions on this basis.

Good stewardship suggests otherwise. Good stewardship of missions requires asking hard questions and making tough decisions.  Good stewardship requires that our mission programming is purposeful and managing the resources of people, time, opportunity and money in a faith-full way, seeking the Spirit’s direction and following where He leads, sometimes saying No, sometimes saying Yes, sometimes launching out in directions that are new and scary but clearly by His guidance.

Hand in hand with denominational and congregational missions stewardship is personal and familial stewardship. The need, the opportunities and the resources possessed by each of us are part of the “all things” that have been “given to us by God’s grace and must be managed in accord with His direction.” The worldwide enterprise of advancing the Gospel to all peoples is the object of personal and familial stewardship.

To that end there will be an insert in this week’s bulletin entitled “Stewardship Opportunities with our Local Mission Partners.” Five of the agencies with which we partner present us with unique opportunities to help them do the work God has called them to do. Angel Tree, Light of Life, Family Guidance, PRISM and The Storehouse of God each/all have needs that you and I can meet through the faithful management (stewardship) of the resources God has given to us.

You may remember that in last week’s sermon I suggested that you (1) take an inventory of the resources God has given to you, (2) consider the character of your stewardship in the light of God’s stewardship, and (3) think of one thing, no matter how small, you might do that would reflect your desire and practice for/of better stewardship. Perhaps one of those things might be making some sort of ‘personal resource management’ decision to partner with one of our mission partners during the month of November.  Be sure to look for the bulletin insert.

Some things to keep in mind as the weekend approaches:

  • Fall Story Time for children takes place tomorrow morning at 10 AM. Contact Lisa Tyger for more info or with an offer to help
  • Pray for the 21 middle school students who will be leaving this evening on their fall retreat at Laurelville
  • Sunday is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Be sure to join us as we unite with believers all around the world in prayer for those whose walk of faith is so much more difficult than ours
  • On Monday, beginning at 8 AM we will be painting the A-level Meeting Room and the Music Room. We can use some more help. Again, another stewardship opportunity of time, skill, support of the ministry of the church, financially eliminating our need to pay for someone to paint it for us! Contact Jack for more info or with an offer to help

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2

Faithfully in Him,
Rick