This article results from research dealing with how a mission-focused stewardship plan can help church leaders and members refocus. The underlying goal is to sensitize one’s conscience to understand the nature of a God who is committed to His mission. God has provided a participative method based on His character, whereby He implores His people to be missional and sacrificial.
Nowadays, we have many obstacles that prevent us from evangelizing. Many members have lost their zeal for evangelism, especially in highly developing countries, where work seems to be the priority. Many seem to be constantly tired, too busy for anything, and only willing to attend service on Sabbath morning. Others neglect the basic principle of tithing, which is one of the main support elements of the mission.
The present article aims to address the lack of motivation to carry out the church’s mission by showing how a Mission Focus can move forward. It is crucial to develop a Christian stewardship program to help church members understand and get involved in the well-being of the church wholistically, to instill in everyone a passion for the great mission, to establish a leadership program that will lead to the spiritual growth of the church, and finally to develop a comprehensive plan that will help churches with a mission-focused stewardship agenda.
The connections between stewardship and mission
In the past when individuals hear the word stewardship they primarily think of money. Unfortunately, people fail to understand what stewardship really means. Stewardship refers to the lifestyle of those who accept Christ as their personal savior because they fit Christ in every detail of their life. Such persons are passionate about supporting ministry and recognize that God will use their money, time, talents, and intelligence to fulfill His will.
Herrington (2000) defines mission as “a general description of God’s eternal purpose for the church.” I understand from this statement that the church must always be mission-oriented. However, a mission can’t be accomplished without standards. As Stetzer (2006) stated, “Missional implies taking the approach of a missionary—being indigenous to the culture, seeking to understand and learn, adapting methods to the mission field—but winding up in the biblical form of a church.” Every new believer must apply the new method of mission, which is found in the Holy Spirit and from reading the Bible. There is a correlative relationship between stewardship and mission. If you believe God is your Lord and Creator and that you must obey Him then everything you are and everything you have belong to God. A visible testimony of stewardship is being passionate about the mission.
Leadership and Growth
A proficient leader encourages and supports his/her team members to achieve the goals they have set, by clearly articulating the path to reach the desired outcome. In my experience, I was able to accomplish this reassuring, directive, or participative leadership. One of my dominant skills is active listening. I listened openly and encouraged feedback while creating and maintaining an inclusive environment. I set a high standard for integrity and respect, and I was consistently viewed as objective and fair. My understanding was evident in the sense that I could have genuine and empathetic engagement with the Stewardship board, the church board, and church members. By God’s grace, we have experienced excellent growth that enables me to train, equip and empower disciples that results in being the best actions or endeavors towards the end time. If the church has youth or young professional adults, let them get involved by contributing their gifts and input to the welfare of the overall community.
The Comprehensive Plan
In my research, I have anticipated ways to help those who are both familiar and unfamiliar with stewardship. The goal is to design a platform, where both information and empowerment are accessible to each participant. This plan will guide the researcher by suggesting different ways to follow through to their expected accomplishment and beyond. It can also be viewed as a solid foundation to transfer the knowledge accumulated to others. If individuals can understand mission-focused stewardship, they will begin to incorporate the ideas in their strategies to further the mission effectively. This is put in place for the growth of the church, which embodies self-awareness. The more conscious we are of ourselves, the more productive we become at the tasks at hand. This will help church members identify their talents, passion, interests, and spiritual gifts. Church members are to be trained to use their talents, gifts, and abilities to fulfill their role in carrying out the church’s mission while connecting and sharing with others.
Leaders are encouraged to strengthen and cultivate a spirit of loyalty among all members. These individuals will consider that faithfulness in returning their tithe and offerings is a part of their transformed life in Christ. For a church with a mission-focused stewardship agenda, five phases are proposed: forming a mission-focused stewardship board, promoting a mission-focused stewardship mindfulness movement, encouraging online giving or promote social media for the younger demographic, forming mission-focused stewardship peer support groups/mentoring, and encouraging monthly evaluation of the groups.
Strategy for Phase 1: A diverse group of people must be appointed, including men, women, young adults, and seniors, to help the leader design and execute the plan.
Strategy for Phase 2: To promote a mindfulness movement, prepare a survey to measure the attitude of the congregation toward mission-focused stewardship. The process that will be used to promote the mindfulness movement is
1. Identifying issues and make them clear
2. Setting up measurable goals
3. Identifying resources (and partners)
4. Creating promotional materials
5. Conducting business meetings in the churches
6. Conducting members outreach to better align them with the movement
7. Events (who, what, when, where, why, and how.)
Strategy for Phase 3: Encourage Adventist Online Giving /social media
With the fast advancement of technology, church leaders use multiple systems to manage their ministry to grow their churches. Consolidating and simplifying tools is one of the key points to attract more people. Using social media to touch young people is very important. According to White (1855), in today’s cities, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested in no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God’s appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary measures to arrest the attention of the multitudes. When they succeed in bringing together many people, they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned. They must use every means that can be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly. (p. 109)
Strategy for Phase 4: Mission-Focused Stewardship Peer Support Groups/Mentoring
The peer support groups are used as the intervention strategy to help members have more light on mission-focused stewardship. The peer support groups reflect the benefits of an in-depth, genuine community, as members live life together in a close-knit group. The mentor presents the meeting models that groups must work on. I have experienced the peer group in one of my churches, one of the participants said she has been Adventist all her life and she has come to realize without peer groups, the church will never make progress. The peer groups are important because they allow us to fellowship and form tighter bonds and understand the mission of the church. Some other members said they enjoyed the presentation, and that it was helpful in explaining what evangelism is and how to implement it. In summary, the whole congregation was excited to participate and felt the church moving in the right direction.
Strategy for Phase 5: Evaluation
Evaluate the peer groups every month and take into account the objectives
King Hezekiah, upon his restoration to life, should have been channeled towards glorifying God. Instead, King Hezekiah wrote to Babylon chanting praises to his wealth. At this point, it had not occurred to him that all possessions at his disposal came from and belonged to God. The healing he received from God and the extension of his lifespan was meant to inspire him to undertake a mission to people. Mission-focused stewardship entails the appreciation of the dark places from which God has brought us to the new places where he is taking us. Unfortunate for Hezekiah, this was not the case. His conduct undermined prudent stewardship, considering the blessings that God had bestowed upon him by guaranteeing an additional 15 years to his life that was already at a terminal end. Instead of praising God by endorsing such insights, he praised his person and his treasures.
Ellen G. White said, “Thus, as we acknowledge God as the proprietor and creator of all things, and the provider of our wealth and possessions— through tithe and charitable offerings—we should appreciate this itself indirectly amounts to doing His work and making his will known. In this day and age, freewill tithes and offerings are required to sustain the gospel, which involves spreading the message of salvation. Therefore, even though we may not be involved in the practical spread of the message of salvation, giving freely what has been freely given to us is critical to sustaining God’s mission. Therefore, a mission-focused steward is the one who tithes and freely gives charitable offerings as it guarantees God’s honor and the winning of more souls to Christ.” (White).
By Herode Jean-Vilien Thomas
Pastor of the Shiloh Bilingual French and Siloé French Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the Greater New York Conference. Pastor Thomas is also a doctoral student at Andrews University and a mentee of NAD Stewardship Ministries.
Burrill, R. (2009). How to grow an Adventist church: Fulfilling the mission of Jesus. CA: Hart Books.
Kent, Anthony. Why some Seventh-day Adventist members leave the church, and why some come back. GENERAL CONFERENCE 2011
White, E. G. (1855). Testimonies for the church (Vol. 9). Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press.
White, E G. Patriarchs and Prophets. Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., 1890.
Stetzer, ED (2006) planting missional churches. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, xii.
Herrington, Mike Bonem, and James H. Furr, (2000). Leading Congregational Change: A Practical Guide for the Transformational Journey. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint,50.