Deacons are to encourage their congregations to live stewardly. More practically, to ask the question: “How can my whole life show that Jesus is my Lord?”
Stewardship is the faithful management of all that God has entrusted to us so that creation and all who live in it may flourish. It involves understanding that everything we have is a gift from God and we are called to ‘steward’ it in ways that please Him and bring Him glory.
It’s no secret that deacons often struggle with how they can help their church “excel in the grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). In his book “What Do I Owe? Managing the Gifts God Gives You”, Rolf Bouma exposes the church’s tendency to think of stewardship primarily in financial terms—“what do I owe?”—and reminds us that money is only one of the gifts God gives us to manage. “How we use the gift of time, the gift of the creation itself, and the gift of God’s grace in thankfulness to God matters too,” Bouma writes.
In order to address these narrow mindsets and the challenges of living stewardly in all areas of life, a partnership was struck with Christian Stewardship Services and the CRCNA in Canada in 2019. A Stewardship Pilot Project, headed by Diaconal Ministries’ Karla Winham, was set to launch in early 2020. The pilot project was designed to help “raise the stewardship bar” and help deacons increase their churches’ awareness of the Biblical principles of stewardship and to help them live those principles out in practical, measurable ways. A letter was sent to every CRC in Canada, seeking a small number of congregations who would participate in the project over a two-year period. Participating churches would be asked to convene a Stewardship Team of 3-5 people who were passionate about stewardship to take the lead for the duration of the project.
Unfortunately, a global pandemic had other plans!
So, like with so many other ministries and initiatives, a pivot was required! A new plan was needed in order to still deliver the same outcomes to churches across Canada who were longing for guidance and support in the area of stewardship.
Coming Soon to a Laptop Near You…
After much work and collaboration over the past two years, Diaconal Ministries is excited to share that a brand new online, self-guided Stewardship Course will go live on the CRCNA’s learning portal in January 2023!
The online course includes an introductory module on the definition and basics of biblical stewardship as well as modules for each of the four T’s of Stewardship (Time, Talents, Treasures & Trees/Creation Care). Each module has a ‘toolkit’ of resources and ideas for individuals and teams to equip their church to live more stewardly.
“I’m really looking forward to getting deacons and their church members energized about stewardship in a broader sense, beyond just the Sunday offerings,” shared Winham. “It’s exciting to imagine the power of a church that faithfully manages ALL of its gifts and resources – their time, talents, treasures and trees!”
What You Can Do Right Now
For those considering the course, here’s a sneak peek at the Introduction to Stewardship video that you’ll see in the course! The full course will be launched in mid-January but stay tuned to our blog and social media pages for more updates and information. “For now,” suggests Winham, “deacons can start by asking people in their church to join a small group to go through the course together. Or even better, start putting together a Stewardship Team!” While that task may seem daunting, Winham would point deacons to the newly developed resource “Creating a Stewardship Team” for some guidance. This helpful resource points out that a diverse, focused team will help foster an all encompassing view of stewardship in your church, rather than focusing on only one aspect (eg. delegating it to your church’s finance committee). A Stewardship Team will also provide consistency and continuity that goes beyond the normal term of ordained Deacons.
While you wait…
“It was a great course and I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about stewardship. Having it done in a group setting would be great so that the participants can discuss their ideas and talk about what they have learned.” (Participant feedback of initial pilot, Fall 2022)