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Summary: First of four messages in a series on stewardship. Based on UM congregational pledge and UM "Guidelines"

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Christian Stewardship - Part 1

Romans 12:1-8 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

- I have come upon something in the last few months that I find distressing.

- Do you know that we have a budget?

- There is a budget planned by the finance committee and the treasurer and the pastor every year.

- We sit down and we plan out how much money it’s going to take to run the church for the next year.

- Anybody do that at home?

- Do you have a budget?

- We have one.

- It’s not quite as formal as the one we write up for the church but we do have a plan.

- Here’s what I find distressing.

- You see, when I make up my plan for my family, it’s based on our income.

- We look at how much we make and then we look at how much it’s going to cost us to live.

- If we expect to earn more than we spend, GOOD!

- If our expenses are going to exceed our income, BAD!

- That’s the way that anyone would make a budget, right?

- Well, not exactly.

- You see, when we did the budget for the church we didn’t know how much we could expect to take in.

- We have last year’s totals, that’s good.

- But we have no way to predict what next year’s income will be.

- Now you need to understand that the finance committee and the treasurer and the pastor are trying to be good stewards of the church’s assets.

- But just like you in your personal finances, if we spend more than we take in, BAD!

- This is the point where you start groaning because you’re expecting me to hand out pledge cards.

- Sorry to disappoint you folks, there’ll be no pledge cards.

- But I do have a point in all this.

- I believe that you all would like the finance committee and the treasurer and the pastor to continue to be good stewards of your church’s assets.

- In order for us to do that, we need your help.

- We need you to jump on board and be good stewards of the church’s assets too.

- Firs things first though.

- We need to all be on the same page as to why this is a problem.

- Why, you say?

- Be cause the sentiment that I’ve heard is, “We’ve always done it this way.”

- “Our budget has always balanced without having to be concerned about money?

- “God will take care of us and our church.”

- Folks, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

- Take a look around you.

- Are those pews as full as they were last year?

- What about two years ago?

- Three? Four?

- This congregation is shrinking and it’s aging too.

- Neither one of those is going to allow you to continue to do things the way that you’ve always done them.

- I know that change is a bad word, but things have got to change or you can kiss your church goodbye.

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