An Invitation to Faithful Stewardship
By: James L. Brewer-Calvert
Sr. Pastor, First Christian Church of Decatur, GA
There are a couple things you and I need to know about faithful stewardship.
We’ll label them Gratitude and Greenbacks.
We give out of gratitude, grateful for what God has already given to us.
You know the story about two mice out for a stroll when they were surprised by a cat.
Just as the cat prepared to pounce upon his breakfast, one of the mice barked.
The barking so startled the cat that he turned and fled.
Whereupon the mouse who barked turned to her companion and said,
“In times like these, it is always nice to know a second language.”
Tithing, my friends, is a new language to many people, including church members.
The people of God need to hear either for the first time or to be reminded
of the authentic guideline around tithing
— not as a legalistic rule or as a rung on the ladder to sainthood.
Tithing — the joyful giving of a portion of our resources – empowers transformation.
Herbert Miller, a Disciple teacher and church leader, said,
“The primary aim of stewardship development is not to finance
the church’s annual operating budget but to change lives.”
Tithing changes lives. Period.
Tithing is at the essence, the heart, the crux of God’s Economics.
We are talking about money, yes,
yet we’re really talking about the miracle of human transformation.
Tithing and giving generously in grateful response to God’s grace
is not something we think about just as the offering plate is about to be passed;
tithing is a positive way of life.
My father, the Rev. George E. Calvert,
taught me and his congregation, the Church of the Living Hope,
to dedicate the first 2 hours of work each week to God.
Try it, and see how your attitude at work and productivity
and collegial relationships and family life improve.
Give the first tithe of your time and effort in a relationship to God,
and see how that impacts your friendships.
Give to God your first 2 thoughts of a new day,
and see if your daylight hours aren’t brighter.
Give the first two hours of your weekly income to God,
and see if you still don’t have enough for all the rest of your bills and livelihood.
Make the first check or automatic payment be your tithe to God’s ministry, then watch with gratitude how the Lord provides for you and yours.
Gratitude and Greenbacks
Many of us were here in worship a couple weeks ago when it was announced
that we earned $41,00 in the Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale.
Afterward someone said “Well, I guess the church doesn’t need my 20 dollar bill!”
Every tithe, no matter the amount, is invited, welcomed, and needed.
Here’s God’s Economics at work and play.
We planned a budget of $260,000 for 2018.
Last year we spent $232,000.
We are a thrifty, lean, mean ministry machine!
We collected income from the following sources:
$4,000 from miscellaneous income.
$37,000 from the Christmas Tree Sale in 2017.
$52,000 from “utility offsets.”[Utility offsets are payments to us from non-profits and community use of our building.]
$143,000 from individual contributions, aka, tithes.
Those of you who already added these figures in your head
know that our total income in 2018 was $236,000.
In other words, we spent $4G less than we took in.
Trust me, we are grateful but not naïve; rainy days and leaks are sure to come.
One take-away observation is we are grateful for every penny, every dollar, every grand
given to Christ’s church in loving gratitude for what God has given to us.
A portion of the Christmas Tree Sale income is dedicated to maintain our Church Park.
The remainder of the funds from the Christmas Tree sale are left alone,
untouched, unused, until & when they are needed for Christian ministry & mission,
which is usually around the hot summer months
when folks travel and weekly giving trails off.
Please do not walk away thinking the church does not need your precious resources.
The reality is we put to work and play every precious resource
you generously donate for the glory of God.
The truth of the matter is we could do so much more if we had more to work with.
Having said that, we covenant to continue to work with and share
whatever the Lord provides the Church through you and yours.
We know that money follows mission.
And I know of few organizations, profit or non-profit, near here or anywhere,
that are more thrifty, transparent, considerate, grateful, or prayerful
of every blessed gift given and entrusted to this community of faith
in the name of Jesus Christ.
Thank you so much.
Christ’s morning offering will now be received.
Those in need, please take; those with abundance, please give.
The Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
601 West Ponce De Leon Avenue
Decatur, Georgia 30030