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.
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
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
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
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
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for
[Eccl 3: 1-8]
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.
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;
talents, gifts, and graces, Lord, Into thy blessed hands receive;
thy talent with due care; For the great day thyself prepare.
to us, creative Spirit, In our Father's house, Every natural talent
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.
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
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
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
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