What is Stewardship?
There are 4 areas of life in "The Covenants of Stewardship"
1) A Covenant of Personal Life
The Apostle Paul wrote, "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me." Galatians 2:20a (NRSV)
Part of Christian living is the conscious and regular commitment to disciplines that help us become faithful disciples. This includes managing one's self, one's inner life and mind, as well as personal habits and relationships.
A commitment in this area might include personal Bible reading and prayer, regular worship with the congregation, participation in a church study group, better care for one's own body and health, and development of other activities that lead to the renewal and wholeness of life.
2) A Covenant of Community Life
Christian faith is always personal but never only private. We are called by Christ to a community where we rejoice together, bear one another's burdens, share responsibility for encouraging one another in the faith, and reach out together to the world around us proclaiming the good news of God's love in word and deed.
Faithfulness to the gospel leads to the stewardship of our community life in the church locally and globally. Covenants of Stewardship asks that each member make a commitment to serve in the congregation and in the local community.
For example, participants ma commit to teaching a church school class or assisting in a community food pantry. Our commitment leads us wherever there are tasks to be done for the sake of Christian concern and compassion.
3) A Covenant of Financial Life
Both Old and New Testaments teach that all we have is a gift from God. As God's stewards and people of faith, we are taught to bring to God the first fruits. For many Christians, money is symbolic of the first fruits, and the faithful use of it is a source of great blessing.
Money is important. It is the medium we use to accomplish many of the church's goals, and it is through money that we participate in aspects of the church's mission that would otherwise be closed to us. Our generous financial support enables the church's ministries of proclamation and justice-seeking, of service and compassion, locally, nationally, and internationally. Thus, a commitment of money as a spiritual discipline is at the heart of our Christian responsibility.
How much should be committed? While the tithe is encouraged in the Covenants of Stewardship program, some people can give more than ten percent while others are not in a position to reach that mark. Proportionate giving is stressed as a disciplined way to express our most thoughtful reflection about the magnitude of God's gifts and our responsibilities in family, church, community, and world.
Biblical Principles of Giving
A tithe is a tenth and it is a portion that belongs to God. (Lev. 27:30-31)
Tithes began with Abraham because he had seen that God owned everything and had blessed him with abundance. (Gen. 14:19-20)
Giving in genuine sacrifice pleases God more than much wealth given without meanings.
Giving is as much a part of serving God as prayer and fasting. (Mark 12:43,44) (Matt. 6:3,5,16) (Luke 6:38)
We are to give of our substances, our time, our energy, and our hospitality. (Heb. 13:15)
We ministered to the Lord in giving by presenting our bodies as living sacrifices and our possessions not only to praise him but serve others in love. (Rom. 12:1) (Gal. 5:13)
The ministry of giving is an act of worship. It is the giving first of ourselves and then of all we possess to God. (II Cor. 8:4,5)
The Holy Spirit directs our giving once we have given ourselves to Him. We give according to what we have, what is needed, and what is our fair share of responsibility. (Rom. 12:13)
Jesus taught that the most important part of giving is the attitude of our heart. (Luke 12:33,34)
God wants us to give in ways which glorify Him and which prepare us to receive more blessing from Him. Therefore, we should give willingly, generously, gladly, and simply. (II Cor. 8:12) (II Cor. 9:6) (II Cor. 9:7) (Rom. 12:8)
Our responsibility for giving today is to support the ministry and work of the local church. Then we are to give to our brother and to the needy. (Mal. 3:10) (I Cor.16:2,3) (Gal. 6:10)
We believe that our theological rationale should be that we are motivated by the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to discover and enjoy the oneness we have in Christ. We believe as members of First United that our mission is to glorify God by seeking out and welcoming all people into the family of God. This may be done through witnessing, preaching and teaching God's unconditional love, faithfulness and foregiveness so that all persons might have the opportunity to establish and re-establish a personal relationship with God. These newly transformed persons may alson participate in the fellowship with other Christian believers. Further we believe that opportunities shall be provided for all to become what we call S.T.E.W.A.R.D.S.
"S" represents studying bible and intentional praying to
develop our lives spiritually, individually and
collectively. This is an expression of the
first component of the Vision for a Vital Church ,
"grow in our commitment to the Triune God."
"T" represents teaching discipleship to every member and
provide educational opportunties for Christian
"E" represents exploring new patterns of ministries for
advancing the gospel.
"W" stands for working diligently at seeking as well as
promoting unity within the Body of Christ. This is an
expression of growing in our commitment to the Body
of Christ in creative ways.
"A" means affirming the diversities that exist within First
United and the larger church.
"R" states that restructuring the organization processes
within First United is a mandate because of the shift in
leadership paradigms for effective ministry.
"D" signifies developing activities and/or events of service
that are missionary in its purpose through meaningful
ministries in the community. This is an expression of
growing in our commitment to the Work of Christ in
"S" represents sharing/spreading the love and grace of
God to all in the church and community through
effective internal ministries and outreach ministries.
Therefore, we have S.T.E.W.A.R.D.S. studying and praying, teaching discipleship, exploring of new patterns of ministry, working diligently, affirming diversity, restructuring organizations, developing internal and external church activities, and spreading the love and grace of God to all people.