| MOSAIC September 2012
As I write this article on ‘connections within our movement’, I am mourning the loss of my Aunt Martha (the last of my mom’s family) who passed away last night. Connections – whether family, friends or a movement – seems all too real at this moment.
Despite what the obituaries say, in remembering those we lost it is never about what they accomplished or where they worked or even what they gave. Rather it is about how they ‘connected’ with you. What is important is what type of ‘relationship’ did you have with them. More importantly, it’s about how much you loved each other.
Our ‘connections’ in the church are not much different. It’s not about the size, location, music or program of the church… it is about how treat each other and look after each other. It’s about how much we are in relationship with each other. It’s about how we love each other. This is how the early church connected with each other…
“ The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything… And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.”
Acts 4:32-35 MSG
The first key to this happening is that the church was of one mind – they were ‘connected’ to each other. They were in relationship.
The second key is that they knew that all they had belonged not to themselves, but to God. And that all they had was to be used for His purpose – not ours. This is foundational in all stewardship theology.
The third key is that they were willing to share as the needs were revealed – they saw what God had given them was to be used to bless others, and they saw that others were in need and they shared what they had with each other.
In the end – there was no needy person among them. Wow!
This is generous stewardship in action.
In the book, ‘The Steward Leader’, R. Scott Rodin shares that stewardship is not about our stuff or what we do or don’t do with it. That goes for our time, talents and our treasures. Rather, it is all about relationship – first with God, then yourself, and each other. Only then can we possibly steward our time, talents and treasures.
When we first have an intimate relationship with God, we can then see ourselves not as ‘controlling owners’ but as faithful stewards of all His good graces. We are then able to see and treat each other as also created in the image of God and worthy of being loved – including the poor, the outcast and the ‘unlovely’. When this happens, the control our ‘stuff’ and time has on us is released as we start to steward everything God has blessed us with to look after each other for His glory.
These four relationships with God, self, others and creation are the ‘building blocks’ of how we connect with each other in all areas of life – especially the poor and those in need. Jean Vanier from the L’Arche Daybreak (a community celebrating the gifts and lives of people with an intellectual disability) says, “In the end, the most important thing is not to do things for people who are poor and in distress, but to enter into relationship with them, to be with them and help them find confidence in themselves and discover their own gifts.”
When I think about my relationship with my Aunt Martha, I don’t think about what she gave me or did for me. She was very generous person. What I think about are the times she spent ‘with’ me – and the big bear hugs that she gave. And how she laughed with me. It is how she loved me that eases the pain of her loss as well as those who upon hearing of her passing, who mourn along beside me.
When I think about our movement and the great people within it, I don’t want to think about the great things we did – but rather, I want to remember the people I meet at all the churches I visit and their hospitality. I want to remember the care they bestow as well as how they get excited about hearing about what God is doing in the rest of the body. I want to hear that no matter what happens to them, they “act in a manner worthy of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:27). I want to hear the stories about how much we loved and cared for each other. I want to hear that there are no poor among us.
The Steward Leader Workshop – based on the book, The Steward Leader, – is designed to help church leaders realize the ‘connection’ to transforming communities is about your relationships with each other and the community. If your church is interested in this workshop, please contact myself at [email protected].