On Tuesdays the Northeastern Iowa Synod’s blog “God’s Work Our Blog” will include an entry from Pastor Mark Anderson, Assistant to the Bishop, on the Topic of Stewardship. His contributions will alternate weekly between a review of Stewardship Education tools and texts from Holy Scripture. Mark has chosen to entitle his blog entries “The Money In The Plate.” In his first entry he explains why…
The title of this blog “The Money In The Plate” is supposed to be irritating. Irritating because when we talk about our financial stewardship someone in the room who will to jump up and kindly, but fervently, remind everyone that stewardship is really about “Time, Talent, and Treasure” three equal expressions of our stewardship of the gifts God has given us.
I disagree. Here are some reasons why:
1) It is extra-biblical. ” Money” appears in the Holy Scripture not less than 140 times, more often than any mentions of “hell” but the stewardship of time and talent less so, if at all. For example in Luke 18:22 Jesus tell the rich young man who purports to have kept the law since his youth that he lacks only one thing. It is not to give up his time and serve more, it is not to share his talent and offer to play his lute at the Synagogue. No, Jesus tells him to sell all he has and distribute it to the poor.
2) It is too great of a temptation for preachers and teachers to find a difficult text on financial stewardship and avoid proclaiming God’s word in it fullest by dodging the financial teaching and focusing on a three-fold stewardship of time, talent, and (if there is there time left in the sermon) treasure.
3) It is too great of a temptation for the congregation to replace the word “and” for the word “or” converting the phrase to stewardship of “time, talent, or treasure.” This is why we hear parishioners suggest they do not make a sacrificial financial commitment because they teach Sunday School instead.
4) For the most part, congregations have far more people willing to share their time or their talents than their tithes. In many congregations the continuation of their ministry is not threatened by a lack of volunteers but by a lack of funds.
I am second to none in my appreciation for those people who are wise stewards of God’s gift of time on this earth and can be generous in their time to others. I am second to none in my admiration for those people who have gifts they develop in order to share with others. But the call to be effective stewards of money is more Biblical, more spiritual, and more urgent. This, I think, gives me permission to give the stewardship of time and talent short shrift and limit this blog to “the money in the plate.” Therefore, In these blog I will lift up resources to help individuals and congregations better develop their spiritual discipline of financial stewardship.