Written By Caryn J. Evans
Stewardship is a quiet practice that keeps a community vibrant.
Growing up at First Christian Church allowed me a front row seat viewing saints of stewardship. The first stewards I knew were mom and dad. In my family, when children could count, dad insisted we track our finances. We each kept a cashbook to record how we spent our allowance. Every Saturday morning, he met with us individually to see how we did with our finances the previous week. Do you know how easy fudging books at the age of ten can be? It was easy except when it came to tithing. Who wants to lie to their dad? His eyes could catch an untruth just as fast as a fly misses a swatter.
Tithing was a way of life for him and mom. Mom and dad did more than tithe. They got up at 4:00 a.m. during the State Fair to cook with other church members in our church’s breakfast stand. Mom taught Sunday school. Dad called on church members personally during the annual stewardship campaign and he reported that he enjoyed the conversations because he got to see people in their natural habitat. He grew up with a hunger for food so often not filled. He knew reduced circumstances when he saw them. He was a salesman and knew how to offer someone a volunteer role because he said money may be important, but if lack of volunteers is the reason nothing happens, there is no church. He knew how to engage people in stewardship by honoring their circumstances. One woman in the church had such little income that she cleaned the restrooms as a way to tithe. She knew the meaning of being a steward. Her children grew in wisdom watching their mom’s love of this community. Sunday school teachers worked on their lessons and came prepared to make Jesus stories come to life. Camp and Conference counselors gave sainthood and stewardship new meaning.
Stewardship means to care for our resources and this community of faith has more stories than I have time to share. In this economy, tithing is tough. However, showing up is not. In addition, showing up where your gifts are needed is a call from Christ to live in his light. I think of stewardship as time, talents, and money and not in any particular order. First Christian Church’s history is all about stewardship to the larger community. The sign over the door says it all, “For the Enlargement of Life.” Let’s just keep on giving what we can to fulfill that mission.