In church circles, the word "stewardship" carries with it a lot of baggage. You hear that occasional sermon on stewardship and someone leaves worship saying, "all they want is my money." You get a packet in the mail with big red letters on the front screaming at you, "Important: Stewardship Campaign Information Enclosed" and then sigh, "here we go again, its budget time."
The tension between our understandings of stewardship as a God-directed way of life vs. stewardship as the strategies we use to fund the church continues to live and breathe here in the 21st century.
No one can deny that it takes money to do what we do as church. Without financial resources, congregations can't continue to perform good and wonderful ministry on behalf of Christ. We need budgets. We need financially astute leaders to help us keep the doors open. But when the church asks for money, some become uncomfortable and question the need. After all, there are some "church and money" horror stories out there . . .
On the other hand, training the body of Christ to embrace God's call to daily stewardship through sacrificial living—and giving—as an act of trust in God has proven to be a pretty tough trick. Even though we know that all we have is owned by God and that everything we have has been given to us by God, we struggle with the concept of stewardship. Even though we know that God will always meet our needs and that God wants us to prosper, we struggle some more.
So, how does the church convince people that God has prepared a life of joy for them as good and generous stewards, while also convincing them that funding the church and its ministries is a legitimate and necessary response to God's call to stewardship?
One of the important disconnect points seems to be that many churchfolk believe their personal stewardship practice is a private matter. In other words, the church has no right to know how much money anybody gives to the church. But what about this: how do church leaders plan as well as underwrite their program, ministry and facility needs, if they don't have some idea what they can expect to receive from their churchfolk? It's a pickle, indeed!
So, we at Church on the Journey have come up with a way to "reconnect" this disconnect. Every JourneyFolk family or participant receives two Stewardship Covenant Cards. One is to keep at home. The other one is for you to mail back in the church's post office box. When you look at these cards you might notice something different—there's no place for your name on these cards. That's right—we don't want to know your name! We just want a card with a dollar amount to help us faithfully plan and fund ministry. Your stewardship practice remains between you and God. That's the purpose of the card you keep—it serves as a daily reminder of your personal financial commitment to God in forwarding the Cause of Christ through Church on the Journey.
So all you have to do is fill in your pledge amount on the card, stuff it in an envelope and mail it. The rest is between you and God . . . and we like it that way!