Questions & Answers
1. What is Christian Stewardship?
The basic etymology of the Greek word oikonomos meaning "steward," comes from two root words oikos (house) and nomos (law). As if to say that the steward is one who is the “law over the house,” and all that is associated with the house. He is given authority over the household but does not own the household. When we talk about Christian stewardship then, we are talking about a “big picture” view of how we manage and use all that our good and gracious God has given to us. We do this in order that the message of Christ and the truth of His Word is spread abroad, through our own personal efforts, and through the efforts of our congregation and our presbytery, and our denomination, as together we join hands to reach out boldly, gratefully and responsibly with the Gospel—telling the good news of Jesus. Stewardship has also been defined as:
- What I do with all that I have, after I say “I believe.”
- Using the gifts God has given us to do the work God is calling us to do.
2. Why a Stewardship Program at Harvest Fellowship?
Our stewardship program reminds us that the Church is a body and that as members of that body, we all play an important role in fulfilling the church’s mission through committing an honest portion of our time, our skills, and our finances for the work and support of the Church and its ministries. Clearly, it is our joyful privilege, duty and responsibility to support the work of the church through our financial offerings. It is a fair way to give because it also enables each of us to give of our time and our talents in the work of the church; to give according to how God has blessed us—giving as we have received and sharing as we have been blessed.
3. What is a Stewardship Pledge?
It is your way of letting us know how you plan to partake in the care of the Church with Christian love and an active understanding of our Church’s needs. Under the Stewardship program each of us is given the responsibility to decide how much money and time, and what skills we commit to the church each year. The intent of Stewardship is to help us progress from the attitude of “paying one’s dues” to a wholehearted and joyful giving of the gifts we receive from God. Remember, our talents and our abilities are God’s gifts to us. How we use them is our gift to God.
4. Can time and talent contributions take the place of money contributions?
Scripture speaks clearly that as members of the body of Christ, we are to support the ministry and work of his church both financially and with our service.
5. What if my situation changes?
Your pledge is not a tax or membership dues. It is a commitment primarily between you and the Lord. If your financial situation or schedule changes and you believe it wise to adjust how you are giving or volunteering and ministering, of course there is freedom to do so.
6. Who knows about my pledge?
Your time and talent pledge will be known by the church officers and specific ministry leaders. These help to match members with the various missions of the Church. Your financial pledge will be held in confidence. Only the deacons and the elders will have access to this information.
7. How do I fill out my Stewardship Pledge card?
Your Stewardship Pledge is a statement of intention made in good faith to give of your money, time, and skills to support the ministries and operation of God’s Church. A new Pledge is made for each fiscal year (January 1 through December 31) by filling out the “Pledge” card for your time, talents, and financial commitments.
A. Who is included in a household?
A stewardship household includes husband, wife, and children under 18, or attending college and not self-supporting. Each working, self-supporting adult over 18 should make his/her own commitment.
B. How do I fill out my Time and Talents Pledge?
Each of us has been gifted in some unique way, and at the heart of stewardship is the belief that all of these gifts flow from God, the Source of all.
Sharing Our Gifts
The grateful return of time and talent to God is accomplished through each individual’s participation in the support of the Church’s mission of Loving God, Loving People and Making Disciples.
Matching Talent to Ministry
Abilities, skills and interests are unique to each person. Properly matching one’s gifts to a particular ministry can heighten the spiritual experience and prevent any uneasiness. The gift discernment process should take into account not only a person’s skills but also the areas of ministry he/she feels called to. (“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10)
To help you determine the ministry best suited to you, consider:
- your occupation/profession
- yours skills and talents
- your hobbies and interests
- the amount of time you can commit. (“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12)
- the gifts that other people say they recognize in you
- the area of ministry you feel called to
Prayerfully reflect on these matters and find the matching time and talent opportunity in your household.
C. How do I fill out my Treasures (Financial Resources) Pledge?
The money we have and all the things that we own — all of them are God’s possessions. Everything in this life that we have is a sacred trust from our heavenly Father (Hag. 2:8; Lev. 25:23). Everything belongs to God (Ps. 50:10-12). He allows us to use His creation and intends it for our good. The Apostle Paul puts matters quite clearly when he writes, “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7). Because this is true, we need to realize that those things we have are not ours to use in any way we choose.
How much should we give?
We do not live under law, but under grace. Each of us needs prayerfully to determine what is most appropriate for our own situation. It’s between you and God to decide what is the right amount for you. In this way, supporting the Church is viewed as a matter of personal commitment and conscience.
Maturing stewards do the right things for the right reasons.
All we do as Christian stewards is to be done to the glory of God and for the welfare of others as well as our Church. Who said stewardship was easy? (“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3)
Many Christians have found giving a fixed percent of their income to be the best way to be regular in their giving.
This is sound financial planning and helps put your pledge into perspective. In Old Testament times, people were expected to tithe, or give 10% of their income for the support of the priests and the Tabernacle. In addition to the tithe, other offerings were made to God throughout the year.
“As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the LORD their God, and they piled them in heaps.” 2 Chronicles 31:5-6
The key points to remember when developing your financial giving plan to the Church are:
Give with a Total Commitment—As Paul said, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Give Sacrificially—true Christian giving means giving up something else in order to give to the Lord. It means giving up spending on things and activities that may distract us from the Lord. It does not mean causing financial hardship--just as fasting from food should not be done at the expense of one’s health, but to help us grow spiritually.
Give Proportionately—get into the habit of establishing your stewardship financial pledge as a percentage of your annual income. We recommend giving your offerings on a regular periodic (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) basis. Why? Because:
- It helps both you and the Church to develop a good budget
- It helps you in your practice of making regular contributions and provides the Church with a more balanced cash flow throughout the year
- It is easier for most families to manage periodic payments.
Is there a specific minimum amount required?
No, there is no mandatory minimum. It probably goes without saying, but how much a family or individual gives is to be done with a clear conscience before the Lord and therefore is not to be a matter of pride or shame and will not impact how someone is viewed or cared for within our church family.
How is the money used?
Your financial pledges are used according to an annual budget formulated by the Deacons and approved by the Elders. It is based upon a combination of the results of the TTT Stewardship Campaign, the Staff and Facility costs and the Ministry needs.
Here is a summary of the FY 2016 Budget:
What is our goal in financial pledge collections?
As in years past, our goal is to meet 100% of our budget through the stewardship pledges. As our church grows we hope to learn to support the work of the church from our hearts, with love and trust that God will provide what we need to do His work.
What is different this year?
As far as the pledge campaign relating to the forthcoming general budget, nothing has changed. This year’s pledge plan is identical to last year’s plan. Once we receive the pledges, we will build a budget and submit it to the Session for approval. There are, however, some other changes this year:
Using the Harvest Website to fill out your TTT form
Last year we decided to take advantage of the website and the availability modern day web forms to collect the information; we plan to do the same this year. This reduced the manual labor required to compile the results and distribute them to the ministry leaders, and made things more efficient all around. We hope that this new format was easier for you also. Some information about the Webform:
Time & Talents Section:
Each member of your household who is a regular attendee at Harvest (including children) should fill out the Time & Talents section of the questionnaire. We want to encourage the youth at harvest as much as the adults to use the time and talents they have been given to serve the Lord. Please give your children an opportunity to serve in an age appropriate way. There are a number of ways even small children can serve the Lord (see the form for three of them).
The Treasures section of the questionnaire should be filled out by those head of household (one per household). However, if there are more than one breadwinner in the household who wish to give separately, then each one can fill out their own Treasures questionnaire.
If you have any questions about this, or have suggestions on how to make this process better, please contact Deacon Kal Weller at firstname.lastname@example.org