Faithful Stewardship

A cowboy from Oklahoma had been in Kansas City seeing things he had never even imagined. He went back to Oklahoma with this message for his friends, “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City; they’ve gone about as far as they can go!” He then proceeded to describe just how far they had gone. He saw 23 gas buggies on one day, he said. He put his ear to a strange apparatus and heard someone talking. They called it a telephone. He saw a skyscraper seven stories tall, “about as high as a building ought to go.” No wonder, then, that he went back shaking his head in wonder at all those folks in Kansas City who had “gone about as far as they could go.”
A church should never become resigned to the belief that it has gone about as far as it can go. The life of faith is renewed and invigorated when we keep reaching out and growing. It is when we set lofty goals for ourselves, and in the name of Jesus Christ reach out for them, that we grow. Churches weren’t created for the purpose of surviving—they were created to stretch themselves in service and in growth.
Stewardship is often confused with fundraising to meet a budget in order to survive. As soon as that happens, vision for ministry is exchanged for maintenance of an institution. Budgets tell us we have gone about as far as we can go based on an assumption of scarcity. Stewardship is built on faith in God’s abundance, that can take us places we never imagined. Stewardship is not raising money to make a budget, it is an expression of commitment to a mission. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the churches who are thriving instead of surviving are those that expect to be challenged by God to do great things and have high expectations of what church membership means.
First Congregational Church of Westminster, UCC has an inspiring history of Christian ministry supported by faithful stewardship. I do not believe that we have gone as far as we can go. I am convinced that we are only just beginning a new chapter. We are not created for the purpose of surviving. We are created for service and growth. We celebrate that fact each week when we give our offerings to God. Through our financial pledges for the support of our ministry, we move toward God’s goal for us as a faith community—service and growth.
This year, we will celebrate Stewardship Sunday on November 9. In the weeks leading up to that date, I will be preaching a four sermon series on “Moving Into God’s Future.” We will also be hearing from church members as they speak in their own words and from their own experiences on what Christian Stewardship means to them.
We haven’t gone as far as we can go, but with hearts open to God’s vision for our ministry, we can be confident that we are going where Christ leads us.