Generosity: a Way of Life

It was a privilege to participate on the Generosity Study Team as a resource person this past year. In September 2007 the team began to work together wrestling with ideas that would help us, as a movement, continue to develop an ethos of generosity.

The team members included: Joe Schaefer – chair, Dave Barbour, Dianne Clifford, Gavin Martin, Doris Meredith, and Doug Trithardt; as well as resource people: Laurie McAlister, Debbie Jensen, Norm Bull, and Mark Molczanski. I want to thank each member of the team for their willingness to participate and give of their time and talents. They were a wonderful group to work with and exhibit evidence of generosity in their lives.

Here is a short story to confirm that last statement. During the course of working together as a team, one of the team members indicated that his church did not have the funds available to cover the cost for general conference and therefore he would not be coming. The other team members felt very strongly that he should be at conference and decided to “put their money where their mouth is”. Not knowing what others were sending, several team members forwarded donations to the church and enough was received to cover all expenses.

The following recommendations were adopted as a result of the work of the generosity study team:

Generosity Recommendation #1

That each church in our movement seriously consider having a Stewardship Coordinator in place by January 31, 2010

To ensure the success of a stewardship ministry within the local church, we believe a Stewardship Coordinator is essential. This role should be filled by someone who:

  • is well respected in your church
  • exhibits an authentic, vital spiritual commitment to God
  • is able to work well with people
  • demonstrates leadership qualities
  • has a passion for this ministry
  • is a faithful steward in both their personal and professional lives
  • is willing to give of their time and talents to this ministry

The Stewardship Coordinator’s role is to encourage the development of a culture of stewardship within your church life. The Stewardship Coordinator will work with the pastor and ministry leaders to:

  • remind, encourage, resource the pastor to preach and communicate in a variety of ways about Biblical stewardship,
  • encourage and resource the training and education of all age groups,
  • remind, encourage, and resource the appropriate celebration of faithful stewardship of time, talent, treasure

Generosity Recommendation #2

That each church in our movement commit to incorporating stewardship and generosity teaching, preaching, celebrating and modeling into all aspects of church life and report their activity to Network Leaders via question 4 on the Quarterly Reports.

Typically many churches have taken a Sunday or two during the church calendar and focused on tithing. While this is important, it does not provide the kind of approach that encourages the life transformation that is necessary to become a faithful steward. There are many verses in the Bible that speak about money and possessions. Being a faithful steward means that in all we do, every part of our life, we acknowledge that God is the owner, is in control and provides for us.

We need to:

  • Preach it
  • Teach it
  • Celebrate it
  • Model it

If stewardship pervades all aspects of our life, it’s teaching and preaching should not be limited to a couple Sundays a year and perhaps a Saturday or evening seminar. The stewardship and generosity message needs to drip from every faucet of church life – worship; Sunday School; children’s, youth and adult ministries; small groups; outreach; hospitality; evangelism; discipleship; …

Generosity Recommendation #3

That Generosity be added as an eighth Core Value.

Core values affirm and guide what is central to defining who we are and how we live and serve both God and man. They should be reflected in all we do, the decisions we make, the policies we write, the way we interact and communicate. If we do this, our culture, our ethos will be a reflection of our core values. Adding generosity as an eighth core value is necessary to our success in developing an ethos of generosity.

The generosity study team provided the following suggestion as to how the generosity core value could be expressed along side the other 7 existing core values.

Generosity

  • God is generous to us in all areas of our lives and being designed in His image we should be generous with others in all things
  • God is glorified when we are generous
  • God’s love is demonstrated to others through our generosity
  • God promises to reward those who are generous

Generosity Recommendation #4

That the theme of stewardship and generosity be included in the cycle of themes for the fall pastors conferences with its first occurrence in 2009.

The Generosity Study Team believes that we need to put a high priority on training and educating our leaders regularly on stewardship and generosity. We believe that a one-time effort is not sufficient for ongoing success. Therefore we are recommending that this topic be included in the cycle of information themes presented at the fall pastors’ conferences.

We want leaders to exhibit the characteristics of faithful stewards, living generous lives – hands open, willingly and cheerfully giving of ourselves and our resources. We want to be leaders who talk about stewardship with so much moral authority that it is a joy to do so – that we will not be afraid because we have experienced the benefits of being faithful stewards and passionately want the same for the people in our congregations.

One final note… Rod Rattray, Executive Director of Crown Financial Ministries Canada, joined us for part of general conference. Rod works with many denominations across the country. After the report from the Generosity Study Team, Rod indicated that as far as he knows we are the first denomination in Canada to make such a strong commitment to biblical stewardship and generosity.

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