The October tradition at Pacific Beach UMC is to explore our Stewardship commitments. Stewardship is the way we think of our faithful support of the ministries that take place as a part of this vibrant congregation. In the United Methodist tradition, we see this as: prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
Often the idea of stewardship is only thought of in terms of financial giving – our gifts. As a Pastor, I have been careful to explore a full expression of stewardship; but in doing so I do not intend to minimize the importance of financial giving to the church. Of course, the practical reasoning is clear: keep the lights on, pay staff salaries, continue vital programs, etc.
But an easy trap to get into is that God needs our money. I don’t believe that for a second. During a spoken section of the U2 song “Bullet the Blue Sky,” lead singer Bono says, “The God I believe in isn’t short of cash, mister.” I agree wholeheartedly. We should not give because God needs financial support. We should give because we need to give.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
6What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop.
7Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. 8God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. 9As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever.
10The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12Your ministry of this service to God’s people isn’t only fully meeting their needs but it is also multiplying in many expressions of thanksgiving to God. 13They will give honor to God for your obedience to your confession of Christ’s gospel. They will do this because this service provides evidence of your obedience, and because of your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. 14They will also pray for you, and they will care deeply for you because of the outstanding grace that God has given to you. 15Thank God for his gift that words can’t describe!
Consider these questions:
- Think about times of traditional gift-giving (birthdays, holidays, etc.). Do you prefer to receive gifts? Or give gifts?
- What’s different in this experience? In other words, how does receiving gifts feel different from giving gifts?
- Does this inform how you think of giving financially to the church? How?
Post-sermon update on 10/16
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found by clicking this link (will open in a new tab).
As I confessed in yesterday’s sermon, I have been challenged to talk through the Gifts (financial especially) element of our Stewardship campaign. Even so, I am up for the challenge because financial support is as essential to the ministries of the church as prayers, presence, service, and witness. I also find helpful the clarity that our giving is not because God needs our money.
Indeed (as we explored yesterday) a full expression of stewardship is a spiritual practice, and we must consider our financial giving the same way.
- What do you think of financial giving as a spiritual practice? Is this something you’ve already thought about, or is this a new concept for you?
- How are you spiritual about your financial giving? Prayer? Meditation? Another spiritual practice?
- If this idea (financial giving as a spiritual practice) is new to you, in what ways would you be willing to engage spiritually in the practicality of giving?