I have been working with our stewardship team at UPC over the past year. It has been incredible to be included in their journey. They are a very creative and imaginative group of people (yes these are the “finance” people! It’s hard to believe). Over the past few years, they have helped our congregation rethink the idea of stewardship– expanding it far beyond budgets and fund-raising.
They have any expanded it beyond time, talent, and treasure (the now classic Christian definition). Over the past year, our team has articulated two very important ideas regarding stewardship:
1) We must steward our relationships. This can be interpersonal relationships such as connections with co-workers or parents/children. This can be intra-organizational such as the youth ministry’s connection to the worship committee. It is also inter-organizational such as our relationship with another church or Christian organization. Finally, it must include the relationship between our church and our neighborhood, our church and the local university, our church and the city, etc. We MUST steward our relationships.
2) We must steward our story(ies). Everyone has a story that is vitally important to identity and vocation. When we encounter someone new, a basic exchange of stories begins (Hi, may name is…. and I work…. and I am married…., etc.). Over time, these stories unfold into something far more complex and interesting. So too, our church has a story. It is these memories of the past that can give us imagination for the present and future. Thus, it is vitally important that the congregation and its leaders tell stories that form the core of the congregation’s identity.
Stewardship is so much more than finances. It is about identity and vocation. Who am I and what am I to do? Who are we and what are we doing? Who am I connected to? What webs are we a part of? What new strands/connections do we want to make? This is stewardship!