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  1. 1. “Grow: A Steward Theology for Individuals and Congregations”<br />Dr. Ed Kruse<br />Director for Stewardship ELCA<br />
  2. 2. The Model of Jesus – “Jesus grew…”<br />Jesus, in his human life, is the perfect respondent to God, the Steward.<br />Lk 2:51-52<br />Ph 2:5-11<br />The life of Jesus is marked by obedience and faithfulness to God.<br />
  3. 3. A Steward Theology isGratitude Growth Living<br />Grow means a “steward life” that:<br />Lifts worship to “week-long”<br />Shifts support to “unwrapping gifts”<br />Inspires service to “our need to give”<br />Grows generosity to “always having enough to give”<br />Frees us from the “bondage of money” <br />Ro 6:4, 13<br />
  4. 4. 2. A Steward Grows in Faith<br />Steward theology is about God’s relationship <br />with all who are created in God’s image. <br />God’s is “both-and”:<br />Beyond our comprehension<br />Clearly revealed to us<br /><ul><li>In the Word made flesh
  5. 5. In the resurrected life
  6. 6. In gift-based vocation
  7. 7. In glorifying God
  8. 8. In building up the body of Christ</li></ul>Lk 9:45, 18:34, 1 Co 2:7, 2 Co 4:3, Jn 3:16<br />
  9. 9. Steward Theology in our Creeds<br />Creator & Creature<br />We believe that what God created serves some purpose for God.<br />God’s Plan Revealed<br />God has revealed purposes for humankind.<br />
  10. 10. 3. A Growing Steward Theology is Grace-based and God-directed<br />God’s dream for you and your congregation is rooted in God’s grace. It involves you in creating, restoring, and sustaining God’s world, all creatures, and all people. <br />All people can be drawn into a new <br />relationship with God <br />and into new life with purpose.<br />Ep 2:8-9<br />
  11. 11. 4. A Steward Theology Is Visible<br />God is the steward, the “oikonomia” of creation, history, and the quality of the future.<br />God’s plan, “oikonomia,” God’s “economy,” calls us to be stewards of God’s:<br />Intentions, Goals, and<br /> Accomplishments<br />Lk 19:11-27<br />
  12. 12. A Steward Theology Grows in Community<br />Old Testament<br />God’s plan is marked by abundance and is expressed in community.<br />New Testament<br />God’s plan is embodied in the resurrected Jesus, lived out in the community gathered in his name, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.<br />
  13. 13. Following Jesus: Grow in Attitudes and Actions of a Steward<br />Stewards: recognize God’s plan and recognize Jesus as the centerpiece of that plan.<br />Stewards: <br />live into God’s plan, and respond to God the Steward with lives of faithfulness.<br />
  14. 14. 5. A Steward Grows in Joyful Worship<br />In the Old Testament God says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Ex 20:3<br />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.”<br />Mt 22:37-38<br />
  15. 15. Worship is living one’s life in God.<br />The First and the Best<br />Offering “first fruits” is an act of thanksgiving and trust in God.<br />De 26,Ps 119<br />
  16. 16. 6. A Steward Grows in Serving Others<br />Feeding the hungry<br />Providing drink for the thirsty<br />Welcoming the stranger<br />Clothing the naked<br />Taking care of the sick<br />Visiting the prisoners<br />Comforting the bereaved<br />The first commandment is to love God; the second, “…is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” <br />Mt 22<br />
  17. 17. 7. A Steward Grows in Self-care<br />Self-Care and Vocational Fulfillment<br />A Christian approach to self-care and vocational fulfillment is marked by obedience and dependence upon God and God’s plan.<br />Ps 1:1-3, 2 Ti 2:1-5<br />
  18. 18. 8. A Steward Grows Communally<br />What Does Luther Say?<br />“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.” <br />Mt 18:20 <br />Smalcald Articles<br />
  19. 19. 9. A Steward Lives In Rhythm<br />It is challenging to grow in living a balanced life; a rhythmic balance.<br />Work & Leisure Achievement & Relationship<br /> Spending & Saving Responsibility & Individuality<br /> Plenty & Poverty Commitment & Freedom<br /> Giving & Receiving Planning & Trusting<br />Ec 3:1-8<br />
  20. 20. 10. A Steward Cares for God’s Creation<br />Our behavior impacts not only the lives of others of our species, but of the whole living world!<br />Ge 1-2, Job 38-39, Ps 104<br />Our celebration of creation means stewarding God’s creation!<br />
  21. 21. 11. A Steward Grows Relationships<br />Lives of Meaning and Purpose<br />We derive our meaning and purpose through:<br />Our relationship with God.<br />Our interaction with the community of faith, the organism we call the Body of Christ, the church.<br />1 Co 12:12-31<br />
  22. 22. 12. A Steward Grows in Generosity<br />Lives of Meaning and Purpose<br />In that setting, we all offer what God has given us:<br />Selves…<br />Time…<br />Possessions…<br />Signs of our relationship with God and with one another. These give meaning and purpose to our lives.<br />LBW 80, 129<br />
  23. 23. God’s Purpose for You - Glorify God and Build Up the Body of Christ<br />God Makes a Difference Through God-glorifying Desires<br />Desire to serve God<br />Desire to build the Body of Christ<br />Desire to make a difference for God<br />1 Co. 12:26-27<br />
  24. 24. 13. How Does a Steward Grow in Building the Body of Christ?<br />In the church we gather as believers and praise God by using our individual and collective gifts to make a difference in our local and global community. <br />Church leaders connect to each other not for their own sake, but for the sake of Jesus Christ.<br />1 Co 12:26-27<br />
  25. 25. 14. A Steward Grows Free from the Bondage of Money<br />Americans are in bondage to wealth and the things money claims to be able to provide.<br />Lk 12:16-24<br />This bondage sometimes takes the form of consumerism and accumulation, but it can also take the form of stinginess, miserliness, fear of loss, and even fear of gain.<br />
  26. 26. Freedom from Bondage<br />Stewardship teaching offers the possibility of providing a perspective that is larger than that provided by advertisements or financial pages.<br />
  27. 27. Generosity Is Its Own Reward<br />Spiritual life is a life of generosity. God is the Great Giver.<br />Those who grow in generosity bear fruit out of a deeper understanding of and love for God.<br />
  28. 28. 15. A Steward Grows “to and from” the Tithe<br />Tithing is a particularly useful way to practice generosity. We define tithing as giving one-tenth (10%) of one’s income.<br />It is not a small amount<br />It requires an act of faith<br />It is a significant action <br />Tithes, offerings, & alms<br />Ma 3:8-10, He 7:2-9, Mt 6:21, Lk 12:34<br />
  29. 29. Tithing<br />God’s grace may lead us to act our way into thinking or think our way into acting; either way our behavior changes and our faith grows. Jn. 7<br />Mt. 6<br />Tithing is Action!<br />
  30. 30. Tithing is a Mark of a Growing and Joyful Steward<br />Generous people discover deeper joy as they grow in giving.<br />There are few, if any, disgruntled tithers.<br />
  31. 31. Generous Giving<br />“You 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.”<br /> 2 Co. 8<br />Christians contribute generously, even sacrificially, as they follow the example of Jesus who generously gave his life!<br />
  32. 32. 16. Most of All, a Steward Grows in Trusting God<br />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.”<br />2 Co 9:6-13<br />Not a Gospel of prosperity, but a lesson in sharing and trusting!<br />
  33. 33. A Steward Grows in Trusting the Promises of God (cont’d)<br />God’s generosity renews our daily generous giving as we worship God and serve God’s people.<br />Ro. 12<br />A life of meaning and purpose is a life which is a conduit to the abundance of God.<br />
  34. 34. A Stewards’ Prayer<br />(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.<br />