What is Stewardship?

A Stewardship Message from Bryan Forst, April 21, 2024

Being a Steward Leader

Good morning,

On behalf of the Stewardship committee, I welcome you to this spring morning.  It’s nice to finally see clearer weather – although admittedly that takes away my handy excuse for avoiding yard work.  Now I’m usually the guy standing up here asking you for money. And yes, while monetary support is always helpful to everything this church does, I am here today to talk about the other two equally important aspects Stewardship: Time and Talents.  While many Christians associate stewardship with tithing or making donations, biblical stewardship goes much, much deeper.  Time and Talents helps to give Stewardship its grander scale and more inclusive nature to other important areas of your life – bringing purpose beyond everyday issues and tasks.  It is when the three pieces of Stewardship: treasure, time, and talents are held together as the whole, that we get the true meaning of what is to be good Disciples of Christ.  It is about taking care of the things that we care about, not only in regards to our church, but as means of experiencing a good and meaningful life.   Two important bible verses bring this idea to heart:

From 1 Peter 4:10 – “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” And in 2 Corinthians 9:6 – “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

In the first verse, God calls everyone to be good stewards.  But why is that?  From the second verse, we get our answer.  We are told that that this can, and will, result in growth.  Growth of spirit, growth of humanity, and growth of community.  Growth that will literally and figuratively “feed us” as children of God.  It’s an important and distinctive way of looking at and living our lives, that is nothing short of transformational.  There is real power and real meaning to being fully invested in something bigger than yourself – something that will outlast you.  This is what is meant by being a Steward Leader.

How does being a Steward Leader differ from other forms of leadership?  Most people think about leadership as some kind of hierarchy, that forms from the top down, and mingles the idea of leadership for the sake of authority and prestige.  But true leadership works up, down, sideways, and any which we way you can imagine.  Being a Steward Leader is not about waiting for a heroic leader to come and save us – it offers the powerful and inspiring idea that leadership starts with each and every one of us – that each of us has a place to serve.   When we talk about the disciples of Christ – do we think about a top-down organization?  Did they have a corporate ladder that required memos and dictates up and down the leadership chain?  No, as pastor Joanne has talked about in previous sermons; especially during the turmoil and confusion after Christ’s death, resurrection, and eventual ascendancy – everything was in disorder and confusion.  And to keep the emerging embers of their message alive for a fledgling religion we now call Christianity, everyone had to do their part.  The disciples eventually came to understand that the important teachings of their instructor, was much larger than their own fears and discomforts. Where would we be if they did not embrace the idea of giving their time and abilities to something far greater than their everyday lives.

Stewardship has a broad, broad definition. It is basically everything we do for the church, rooted in the resurrection and in the teachings of Christ.  When you have a Stewardship perspective, it makes life infinitely more relational, intentional, and transcendent.  It frees us from ordinary troubles and provides a greater context of perspective and goals.  A Steward Leader is someone that takes up the reins of life and takes on something that is bigger, and that will have a lasting effect.  We are all Steward Leaders, all Disciples of Christ.  You are here, and you are part and parcel of God’s message.  We have the grace and fortune of being surrounded by talented, kind, caring, and prayerful people within our church.  We are each part of the Ellington Congregational team.

But more is needed.

We have a number of ways that this church community works to be good stewards: through our mission’s work, donations that go regularly to community organizations. This also shows through our weekly food donations, our twice-yearly food drives, our work with Hawkwing, shut-ins, TELOS mission trips, prayer groups, winter coat drives, adopt a family program, our weekly services, our lay readers, our incredible music program, our services to the church building and upkeep, and of course our donations – and these just name a few – I know I am leaving out so much more.  But you’ll notice that all of these things have one very simple thing in common.  They need people – us – to make them work.

It is our gifts of time and ability that allows the light of Christ to shine out into the world from this small town of Ellington, CT.  We to have this palace of community, built and provided for each of you, by each of you.  So I ask: give more, be more, become more involved.  Join a committee, volunteer for something, and of course, give as much as you are able.   You won’t regret it.   You will be on a path to being a Steward Leader, and will have the boundless benefits of supporting and uplifting this beautiful and rare place we call ECC – a place that will outlast you, outlive you, and will help make our world a better place for generations to come.  Be a good and faithful Steward.

Thank you and God bless.

Stewardship moment from Jol Sprowles, 2021:

Stewardship goes hand in hand with discipleship and nourishment. It is not just about giving money. Remember that Paul thought of "Stewards" as servants who were entrusted with the oversight or managing of household resources. 

Our faith calls us to take care in how we distribute our time, talent, and treasure to serve God, his people, and the earth. When we join our church we are disciples, and it is part of our discipleship to care for each other and for the world we live in. We are a group of stewards, and so much more can be done by the group of us. The more we grow in our participation, the more good can be done. Being stewards nourishes our spiritual growth.

In addition to being financial stewards, we must also consider giving of our time and talents in our stewardship. Typically there are too few members trying to fill the needs at ECC by stretching their own time budgets. Helping on committees is not a burdensome commitment. It is a sociable way to get things done and to know better your fellow members. Supporting the ministries and programs at ECC will deepen your relationship with ECC and exand your spiritual frontier.

Stewardship Moment from Cassie Miller (Soucy)

Remember that the apostle Paul thought of Stewards as servants who were entrusted with the oversight or managing of household resources. Our faith calls us to take care how we distribute our time, talent, and treasures to serve God, his people, and the earth.

God has Called Everyone to be Good Stewards
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Stewardship Moment from Bryan Forst

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894), author.

Stewardship can be seen as nourishment, not only to the church we love, but for ourselves as well. Sowing the seeds of Christian spirit and growth sows the bounty of our future and our well-being as Christian stewards. It is about caring for something you believe in, and for something, you love and cherish.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.
Chinese Proverb

Stewardship Moment from Penny Gate

As Christians, we are all stewards of God. In the parable of talents (Matt 25:14-30) each slave was entrusted with something, to one five talents and another two talents, to use in service of the master. Each of the two were praised and rewarded equally, not based on what they were given but what they did with what they were given. To compare oneself with another must be resisted because comparison is the basis of dissatisfaction. All of us have been given something, but what is important to God is the faithfulness to what he has given us and what we are called to do in serving Him. (Luke 12:42)