Biblical Stewardship is not a topic that is easily addressed or readily accepted by the general assembly of believers. It is however, a vital subject because it affects every Christian and every church. When instituting a general training program for stewardship in your local church it is important that your approach is gentle, straightforward, simple and biblical.
The first step to any training program is to make sure your leadership is on board. It is essential for the success of the program that the leadership of the church fully understands why stewardship is important and that they will lead by example. If the congregation sees the leadership struggling financially or not upholding their financial commitments to the church, they will doubt the validity of the teaching and be less likely to incorporate into their own lives.
Planning for Stewardship Training
In order to successfully implement a training program, you must first plan for it. There are many things that go into executing a good Stewardship program. That means pulling out a calendar, preferably in the beginning of the year, and plotting the proposed dates that you will have stewardship meetings, or planned mid-week stewardship lessons. This training could be implemented with monthly meetings or perhaps with a bi-annual ten week mid-week series. What works best for each church will depend on the size, temperament, and demographic of the local congregation.
The important thing is to make time for regular training that will help the church develop Biblical money mastery. This plan is best started separately from the annual Budget Meeting. You want the congregation to connect this training with learning how they can personally handle their money in a Biblical manner, not with an attempt of the church to extract as much money as possible from them.
Implementing the Training
Set the trainings up according to the Financial Decalogue in Rev. John Harrison’s Book, Making Mammon Serve You. Each lesson can focus on one of the ten “financial commandments”. It is much easier to digest a wealth of information when it is broken up into bite-size pieces. Use the opportunity to teach Biblical standards in every lesson. Consider using the book as a text book for the training.
Encourage questions and discussions to keep people engaged. Limit the exchange of ideas and steer the conversation back to the lesson as needed. Remember to focus on what God’s Word says about money mastery. Everyone has their own opinion, but pleasing God should be every Christian’s focus. Make sure the saints know why you want them to understand Biblical money mastery. Use scripture to back up all statements and keep advice very general. Do not put yourself in the position of giving specific financial advice. You are not a professional and don’t want to take on the responsibility of giving this kind of advice.
When you complete your financial training your saints should have a basic understanding of all of the items listed on the following pages.[i]
The congregation should understand:
· Why stewardship is important
· Kingdom Giving and putting God first
· The three basic things you can do with money: spend, save, and give away
· Basic financial terms: assets, liabilities, net worth, investments etc…
· How to determine where you are financially
· How to set worthy financial goals
· General ways to increase earning power (not specific personal advice)
· How/why to build and maintain an emergency fund
· Why debt is servitude and general advice on getting free from it
· Why saving/investing is important
· How to interpret Ecclesiastes 11:1-2
· Why giving is important
· Knowing when/why to seek professional financial council
· Good stewardship as a lifelong process
The leadership should understand:
· Everything listed above for the general congregation as well as:
· Why Stewardship Training is important
o The Word says it’s important
o Congregations are struggling in their personal finances
o It will help to improve the over all health of the local church
· Biblical Stewardship is concerned with total financial health
o Saints should be taught the tools to succeed in every aspect of their finances
o Training is not solely focused on meeting church obligations
· Christian stewardship is an extension of the believer’s faith
o How to help saints see that matters of money are a way to honor God
o Teaching saints that their giving shows gratitude to God
o Helping saints learn to trust God with their finances
· The Christian knows that everything they have is God’s
o Teaching them our daily bread comes from Him
o We are merely managing what the Lord puts into our hands
· Finances are a tool for furthering the Kingdom
o Biblical instruction for how blessings are an opportunity to bless others
o Revivals, Bible study materials, humanitarian aid etc…all cost money
· God Blesses a cheerful giver and rewards those who give sacrificially
o Leading by example
Christian stewardship is one of the ways in which Christians can show the fruit of the spirit at work in their lives. How a person handles their finances is often connected to their relationship to God. When we love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength, we will not run the danger of placing too much affection on money. We will understand that money is given to us as a tool to accomplish God’s will in our lives and will strive to use it in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this way, stewardship training is more than a program about finances; it is a program about GOD!