“ Grow: A Steward Theology for Individuals and Congregations” Dr. Ed Kruse Director for Stewardship ELCA July, 2010
The Model of Jesus – “Jesus grew…”
Jesus, in his human life, is the perfect respondent to God, the Steward.
The life of Jesus is marked by obedience and faithfulness to God.
Steward Theology is “Gratitude Growth Living”
Grow means a “steward life” that:
Lifts worship to “week-long”
Shifts support to “unwrapping gifts”
Inspires service to “our need to give”
Grows to “always having enough to give”
Frees us from the “bondage of money”
-Ro 6:4, 13
Steward theology is about God’s relationship
with all who are created in God’s image.
God’s relationship is :
Beyond our comprehension
AND clearly revealed to us
In the Word made flesh
In the resurrected life
In gift-based vocation
In glorifying God
In building up the body of Christ
-Lk 9:45, 18:34, 1 Co 2:7, 2 Co 4:3, Jn 3:16
2. Stewards Grow in Faith
Steward Theology in our Creeds
Creator & Creature
We believe that what God created iin His image serves God’s purpose.
God’s Plan Revealed
God has revealed His purpose to us.
3. “Grow” Steward Theology is Grace-based and God-directed
God’s dream for you and your congregation is rooted in God’s grace. God involves you in creating, restoring, and sustaining God’s world, all creatures, and all people.
All people can be drawn into a new
relationship with God
and into new life with purpose.
- -Ep 2:8-9
4. Steward Theology Is Visible
God is the chief steward, the “ oikonomos ” of creation, history, and the quality of the future.
God’s plan, “ oikonomia ,” God’s “economy,” calls us to be stewards of God’s:
Intentions, Goals, and
Steward Theology Grows Best in Community
God’s plan is marked by abundance and is expressed in community .
God’s plan is embodied in the resurrected Jesus, lived out in the community gathered in his name, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Stewards Grow in “Following-Jesus-Attitudes/Actions ”
Stewards recognize God’s plan and recognize Jesus at the center of that plan.
live into God’s plan.
5. Stewards Grow in Joyful Worship
In the Old Testament God says, “ You shall have no other gods before me .” - Ex 20:3
Jesus said, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart , and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment .”
- Mt 22:37-38
“ Worship is living one’s life in God.” The First and the Best When we offer our “ first fruits ” we are thanking God and trusting in God. - De 26, Ps 119
6. Stewards Grow in Serving Others
The first commandment is to love God; the second, “… is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself .”
- Mt 22
Feeding the hungry
Providing drink for the thirsty
Welcoming the stranger
Clothing the naked
Taking care of the sick
Visiting the prisoners
Comforting the bereaved
7. Stewards Grow in Self-care
Self-Care and Vocational Fulfillment
A Christian approach to self-care and vocational fulfillment is marked by obedience and dependence upon God and God’s plan.
-Ps 1:1-3, 2 Ti 2:1-5
8. Stewards Grow Communally
What Does Luther Say?
“We now want to return to the Gospel, which gives guidance and help against sin in more than one way because God is extravagantly rich in his grace… through the mutual conversation and consolation of brothers and sisters. “… Where two or three are gathered .” - Mt 18:20
9. Stewards Grow In Rhythm
It is challenging to grow in living a balanced life; a rhythmic balance.
Work & Leisure Achievement & Relationship
Spending & Saving Responsibility & Individuality
Plenty & Poverty Commitment & Freedom
Giving & Receiving Planning & Trusting
Our behavior impacts not only the lives of others of our species, but of the whole living world!
-Ge 1-2, Job 38-39, Ps 104
10. Stewards Care for God’s Creation Our celebration of creation means stewarding God’s creation!
11. Stewards Grow Relationships
Lives of Meaning and Purpose
People derive meaning and purpose through:
Their relationship with God.
Their interaction with the community of faith, the organism we call the Body of Christ, the church.
-1 Co 12:12-31
12. Stewards Grow in Generosity
Lives of Meaning and Purpose
Stewards offer what God has given
Signs of our relationship with God and with one another. These give meaning and purpose to life.
-LBW 80, 129
God’s Purpose for You - Glorify God and Build Up the Body of Christ
God Makes a Difference Through God-glorifying Desires
Desire to serve God
Desire to build the Body of Christ
Desire to make a difference for God
1 Co. 12:26-27
13. Stewards Grow in Building the Body of Christ
In the church we gather as Jesus-followers and praise God in Jesus-communities that use their gifts to make a difference in the local and global community.
Church leaders connect to each other for the sake of Jesus Christ.
-1 Co 12:26-27
14. Stewards Grow Free from the Bondage of Money
Americans are in bondage to wealth and the things money claims to be able to provide.
Bondage sometimes looks like
5. Fear of loss
6. Fear of gain, or
Freedom from Bondage
Stewardship teaching offers the possibility of providing a perspective that is larger than that provided by advertisements or financial pages.
Generosity Is Its Own Reward
Spiritual life is a life of generosity. God is the Great Giver.
Those who grow in generosity bear fruit out of a deeper understanding of and love for God.
15. Stewards Grow “to and from” the Tithe
Tithing is a particularly useful way to practice generosity. We define tithing as giving one-tenth (10%) of one’s income .
It is not a small amount
It requires an act of faith
It is a significant action
Tithes, offerings, & alms
-Ma 3:8-10, He 7:2-9, Mt 6:21, Lk 12:34
God’s grace may lead us to “act our way into thinking” or “think our way into acting.” Either way our behaviors change and our faith grows. - Jn. 7, Mt. 6
Tithing is Action!
Tithing is a Mark of a Growing and Joyful Steward
Generous people discover deeper joy as they grow in giving.
Tithers think of themselves as giving to God “through” the church rather than “to” the church.
There are few, if any, disgruntled tithers.
“ Y ou know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich .”
-2 Co. 8
Christians contribute generously, even sacrificially, as followers of Jesus who generously gave his life!
16. Most of All, Stewards Grow in Trusting God
Giving generously grows our of trusting God’s promise to provide “ every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work .”
-2 Co 9:6-13
True prosperity is more than riches; it is learning to share and trust!
A Steward Grows in Trusting the Promises of God (cont’d)
God’s generosity renews our daily generous giving as we worship God and serve God’s people.
- Ro. 12
A life of meaning and purpose flows in the abundance of God.
A Stewards’ Prayer
(In unison) Dear Lord God, in Christ you have given us so much. You have given us Jesus. You have given us everything we are and have. Give us one thing more – a grateful heart; not just for our sake, but for Jesus’ sake. Amen .