as a lifestyle because teaching it any other way will
not produce a changed life or changed priorities. Nor
will it result in a commitment to put God first in every
area of life.
The consequences of not teaching
lifestyle stewardship are evident. There is a growing
unrest among Baptists who feel unfulfilled in service,
clearly hungry to be actively engaged in giving—not just
of their money but also their time and talents—to the
cause of Christ.
Step 1.— Create a
climate in your church that regularly confronts your
people with God's Word regarding the management of their
assets—time, financial resources, and personal gifts.
Make sure the climate is both positive and healthy, and
support it with prayer.
Step 2.— Establish
clearly—through preaching, teaching, personal example,
and church practice—that there is great joy,
deep peace, and enormous satisfaction in putting God
first in every area of life. Pastor, staff, and lay
leaders should model Christian stewardship. The church
itself must conduct its own business, its own giving,
and its own outreach according to biblical models.
Step 3.— Provide the Christian asset manager
with the tools needed to be successful. People
were not born knowing how to manage resources. It is an
acquired skill, and specific learning activities are
needed to equip individuals and families to be effective
Step 4.— Produce a continuous flow
of preaching, teaching, learning activities and
practical experiences that educate the congregation.
Avoid at all costs the temptation to focus on only the
financial aspects of stewardship. To emphasize pledging
a budget and tithing, apart from issues of the heart, is
to rob the people of God's clear teaching that He is
interested above all else in our heart condition. The
best way to avoid misunderstanding on this point is to
develop a year-round calendar with stewardship elements
every quarter of the year. Integrate stewardship
concepts and education into every area of church life,
and clearly define the implications of faithful
stewardship among all age groups.
Preach and teach clearly that stewardship is first and
foremost a heart issue. Teaching a person to
tithe purely from a legalistic approach is to cheat him
of the knowledge that God is the greatest giver of all
time. Our giving, then, is simply a response to His
giving and becomes the way by which we express our love
and thanks for what He did for us.
Make a concerted effort to educate the entire body of
believers about the dangers of debt. "You have
only to pick up today's paper to see again that our
nation is wallowing in red ink. Christians are not
immune to the consumer debt crisis that is sweeping our
country. Give your people financial management tools
that reveal the crippling effects of debt, the dangers
it presents to marriages and homes, and the
opportunities that are lost when a family is slave to
Step 7.— Help your people
discover their gifts. Show your people how to
find out the ways God gifts each of His children with
skills, talents, and spiritual gifts. Then encourage
them to use and develop those gifts within the body of
Christ and the local community. Conduct short classes
year-round, encouraging every member to attend. Those
that have discovered their gifts can share and
encourage, while those who have not can be led to see
who they are in Christ—special, unique, and equipped for
In short, preach, teach, and model a
lifestyle stewardship that is so winsome and so
compelling that your members will want to emulate that
lifestyle and in so doing, will bring glory to God!
(Adapted from an article by Norma J. Goldman,
Managing Director, Church Leadership Publishing, LifeWay
Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee).