Gaining the proper perspective of stewardship is essential to developing an effective Stewardship Ministry. We must first realize that stewardship is discipleship. Stewardship is not about developing donors, but developing disciples. Our goal should not be to get more money out of people, but to develop more people into disciples. Donors give because of outside factors, disciples give from their heart. We can actually begin to measure the spiritual growth of a church, by how loosely or tightly those within the church hold on to their money.
It starts at the top. If we want our people to be generous, we have to have a culture of generosity. If we are not generous to our people, they will not be generous in return. Generosity starts with the Pastors & Staff. If we are timid about giving others will be too. If we have a lack of trust in God that is demonstrated by a greater trust in our money, we set the tone in our church.
God is not a God of scarcity. He is a God of abundance. We can examine three types of approaches to money that will help us better see this. These are the Scarcity Mentality, The Abundance Mentality and the Wasteful Mentality. The Scarcity Mentality says that every time one church gains, another church loses. This says there is “not enough to go around”. This is when the disciples said “We only have 5 loaves and 2 fishes”. It is a mindset that God is not going to provide. In practice, we say that we can’t afford to mail quarterly statements or print envelopes or print full color. Then there is the abundance mentality which says that if we spend what we have in order to reach people, God will give us more. This says with Jesus, “Let’s give them something to eat”. It is realizing that God is unlimited in His access to resources. Last, there is the wasteful mentality, which is throwing out what is left over. We don’t want to throw money away. Be reasonable with what God has blessed you with. Have a plan and work the plan. Don’t spend just to spend, but spend for a purpose. Remember that in the story of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes that the disciples collected 12 baskets of leftovers. They did not waste it.
In understanding these different mindsets of spending within the church, we also need to understand the mindset of why people don’t give. There are a variety of reasons, but some of the main ones are no vision, no money, no desire, family pressure, lack of trust in organization, no realized need. People don’t really give to need, they give to vision which prompts desire in our hearts. The best way to change the mindset of the church is to cast and recast the vision of what God can do if they give. In casting the vision, remember that raising money is as much about how you say it as what you say.
(insights learned from personal experience and gleaning from Steve Stoope’s ministry)