Do you know me? : The Heart of Stewardship

Do you know me? : The Heart of Stewardship

Pastor Max McKenzie-Cook

Let me tell you a story: In the heart of our beloved community, amidst the gentle embrace of SEC Adventist Church, a tapestry is woven from the threads of our collective journey. It's a story not just of faith but of the cherished souls who breathe life into our shared vision of our church.

Let me introduce you to the fictional Adventist—Sarah, a beacon of compassion and creativity whose story intertwines with ours like a melody harmonising with a symphony. With her youthful exuberance and unwavering dedication, Sarah embodies the essence of what it means to be a steward of our faith.

But to truly understand Sarah's journey, we must delve into the depths of who she is—her hopes, dreams, and the nuances of her being that make her an invaluable member of our community.

Sarah is a young woman who has begun her professional career as a lawyer. Her parents converted to Christianity when she was a teenager. Eventually getting baptised. Compelled by the generosity and the love of God t to the underdogs in the biblical stories like Esther, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well and the good Samaritan. This ignited her sense of purpose to help the most vulnerable in society. To give a voice to those who may not have one of their own. In this, she found the Church and its capacity to love, matched her own calling to do good just as Jesus did good. She, in turn, gave her time to offer free legal advice to asylum seekers. Her worship on Saturdays was powerful because she felt deeply connected to God. She felt her calling was encouraged and supported by the church. And in turn, she received joy and satisfaction that this was a community of believers living out God's will in their lives.

As you can see, Sarah's story extends beyond the realm of duty. It delves into the depths of her soul, exploring the motivations that drive her to give of herself so generously. Driven by empathy and compassion, Sarah's heart beats in rhythm with the needs of others. She gives not out of obligation but out of a deep-seated desire to make a difference in the lives of those around her. Sarah's contributions to our church family flow not just through monetary means but through the richness of her presence, her service, and her unwavering commitment to our shared mission.

But Sarah's story is not hers alone. It's a reflection of the countless narratives that intertwine to form the tapestry of our community—a mosaic of faith, hope, and love. But there is also an inherent danger here. There is a danger that the church and its members become misaligned. As a church, we could be seen to be taking the generosity of our membership for granted. This may manifest in ways we might not expect. For example, we might focus our message on our duty to give back to God because all we have is God’s anyway - that might be true, but we miss the underlying stories like the one of Sarah. That connects our generosity to worship. Another way we can become misaligned is through the way we utilise time, talents and finances. People are connected to God through their various journeys and walks of life. The reasons people give are deeply connected to that. If we are unable to demonstrate our ability to connect our members to the value that the Church provides not only to them but to those in our community, then we will begin to lose them. And I don’t mean just their money but their presence and even their confidence that we are capable of matching God’s generosity and love.

So, how can we tap into the rich faith and love of our membership and avoid the pitfalls that would disconnect us from the true principles of stewardship? I believe the answer is to know each other. We have over 26,000 members in the South England Conference, and each person is unique in age, background, faith journey, and experience. They have different gifts and talents and connect with God in different ways. This means we have to take time and use a variety of methods on different levels to ensure we are always aligned with our people. These methods include visitation and seeing people in their different environments. Getting to know them deeply and intimately. It also involves other tools like surveys and focus groups so we can combine our knowledge with an understanding of the complexities of our territory but, more importantly improve our decision-making so that we can respond to challenges and opportunities with greater levels of adaption and agility. This is a journey but one of necessity to help build a church not only for now but for the future.