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Last updated: 08 October 2012

Stewardship 

Our Understanding of Stewardship

On November 28th 1999 we as a church renewed our commitment to Christian Stewardship. This followed months of preparation and teaching. We held a celebratory Millennium Meal and invited every member of our church and many people on our community roll. More than 200 people sat down to the meal together in our church.

After the meal we were addressed by 5 members of the church who spoke from the heart, expressing there love for the church and for the Lord Jesus Christ and sharing with us their vision and understanding of stewardship. Thelma Lister, Tony McCann, Dwayne Heard, Sheila Cahill and Anne Jacques all spoke with challenge and conviction.

In the months leading up to our renewal our church magazine featured relevant material and we focused upon three areas of our responsibility to God for our TIME our TALENTS and our TREASURE.

Time
Our commitment to the gospel, the good news, is demonstrated through our commitment to the Church. We enter into the life of the Church and find fellowship with people who share our concerns for the world. We are a community of people who are well aware of our failings and faults but together we seek a deeper understanding of the gospel message and the Christian way of living. Part of our understanding of belonging to the church has to do with how we use that most precious gift of time. Finding within life a balance of using time for work and rest, time for hobbies, time for worship, time for self, time for others. Time to make a contribution to the life of the community to support that community which in turn plays a part in sustaining us. Time to serve.

These are times of stress, difficulty, conflict and we live in a world of changing and confusing values. The gospel of Christ Jesus offers an alternative life-style which promotes life and health and peace. It points humanity to a higher way, a self-less way, a community way of living, caring, sharing, valuing other people and being valued by them. The Church stands for freedom, justice, salvation, holiness and wholeness in a fragmented and dangerous world. The gospel encourages us, even requires us, to take seriously the needs of other people as well as our own needs. It requires us to seek justice for all and dignity for all mankind, to exercise responsibility for all people everywhere as made in God's image.

In order for the Church to serve the world and its people in any way at all the Church needs people who will give of their time. Nothing ever gets done except by the time that people give to do it. Every blade of grass takes time to cut, every letter of text takes time to type, every cup of tea takes time to make, every note that is played on an instrument or sung in a choir requires time in practise. Every clean place has taken up someone's time in cleaning. Every loose screw takes someone's time to tighten, every blown light bulb takes someone's time to replace it. Every spoken word in leadership of EVERY section of the church community took up someone's time in thoughtful, careful, diligent, prayerful preparation. Every card sent to express love and care took someone's time in caring. Every flower taken to cheer the sad, the lonely, the sick required someone's time to take it.

Some people can be seen to be giving of their time, others beaver away in the background and the fruit of their hours of labour may be easily overlooked, may it never be taken for granted or undervalued because time is precious, it is the stuff life is made of, a limited resource.

It is often said with some truth, " If you want something done, ask the busy people!" To use our time well is partly an exercise in efficiency, it is partly a challenge to know the difference between proper rest and idleness. The gospel takes full account of this

Jesus calls his tired disciples:

And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no time even to eat. [Mark 6:31]

Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica:

And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. [1 Th 5:14] 

We want our church to be a place where the value of time is appreciated and where the gift of people's time is used wisely and where the opportunity is provided for everyone to be able to offer some of their time in the service of Jesus Christ.

Another word for steward is custodian. The general idea of exercising stewardship is 'to have due regard for'. We need to have due regard for the value of the time that other people give to help us in our church and part of our gratitude to God for the time that people give for us is expressed in that we also give some of our time to them. We are custodians of the time that God gives to us.

The most famous bible chapter that speaks repeatedly of time is Ecclesiastes 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 
[Eccl 3: 1-8]

When we together review and renew our commitment to our Lord in our stewardship renewal in the autumn we shall be asking people to consider the gift of time and their use of it.

Thanks are due to so many people for so much time that they lovingly and sacrificially give to the Lord's work through their service to the church. The best way to thank people is to help them and offer what time we can in whatever ways we can in the service of Christ. The best way to thank God for life and for time is to live it and use it wisely and well.

Talents

Everybody can do something ! Everybody has skills ! Everybody can have a role to play in the service of God and in the work of his church. We often use the word ' talents ' to describe the various gifts and skills we have and the word is familiar in language used in worship, for example;

My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord, Into thy blessed hands receive;

Charles Wesley

Improve thy talent with due care; For the great day thyself prepare.

Thomas Ken

Come to us, creative Spirit, In our Father's house, Every natural talent foster,

David Mowbray

Come, let us anew Our journey pursue, Roll round with the year, And never stand still till the Master appear. His adorable will Let us gladly fulfil, And our talents improve, By the patience of hope and the labour of love.

Charles Wesley

We are thy stewards; thine our talents, wisdom, skill; Our only glory that we will thy trust fulfil. That we thy pleasure in our neighbours' good pursue, If thou but workest in us both to will and do.

G.B. Caird

As you might expect and as you probably already know, the concept of Christian people using their talents in the service of the Lord, not neglecting them , is based upon a bible story, a parable of Jesus.

' For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, `Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, `Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents.

For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away." ' [ Matthew 25:14-29]

In our Church we cherish the truth that ministry is for everyone and that the gifts and talents as given by God to every individual should find expression wherever possible in the life of the church .

Part of our stewardship renewal asks us to consider our own ' talents ' and also to consider how we might use them to further God's work.

Treasure

Freedom - this is what Stewardship gives to the Church. Freedom to choose where our work will be directed. No tremendous money making efforts needed. No fear of a "poor" Gift Day. Freedom to give generously to Mission and to respond to crises as they occur. Freedom to offer our Church buildings for many activities as a contribution to the life of Guiseley.

This freedom only arises through responsibility. The willingness to look at the financial needs of the church, not only the running expenses, but the financial cost of changes in worship and service which we must make to project a contemporary gospel.

How do we approach our financial responsibility. How do we judge what is a just amount to offer for the witness of our church in Guiseley? I would suggest that we look at our personal expenditure on household essentials such as electricity, water, repairs and cost of living increases. The church does not escape these levels of expenditure. Another indicator could be the cost of entertainment and leisure. An awareness of the financial realities of modern living should help us in our personal offering of our treasure in response to Christ's active love for us and His call to be stewards of His world. This is our vocation; this is the pattern of true, enduring human fulfilment.

Gift Aiding is actively encouraged and further information on how it works can be found by going to Gift Aid.

 

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