The challenge began 10 years ago. Change the old stewardship
paradigm that said stewardship is only about tithes and offerings to the new
biblically based approach that emphasizes accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ
in our lives.
The biblical model is about the state of our hearts. It is about
what motivates us, and it is about our relationship with God. Gradually the
message that stewardship begins at the cross and not in our pockets has been
accepted, and it has changed the lives of many individuals. In a society in
which performance is the way to success, the example of the two mites of the
widow reminds us that it is not the amount of the offering that counts; it is
the state of the heart.
Another important factor has been added to the teaching of biblically
congruent stewardship principles and has met with strong support in every division.
It is the interchangeableness of the two terms stewardship and discipleship.
This concept was explained and accepted as the natural spiritual route a believer
should follow to become a disciple. It is only in a daily walk with Christ that
we can be good stewards and true disciples. Thus the choice of our motto for
the department: "Growing stewards, making disciples."
What happened during the past five years
1. The department was consolidated (after being combined with ministerial and
church ministries for a number of years).
2. A world stewardship summit was held in 2001. The new approach
was confirmed and accepted by world church leadership:
a. Implement a biblical stewardship education for church
membership, focusing on discipleship in the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
b. Simplify the offering system to affirm offerings as part of the worship of
God. The combined offering plan was voted by the Annual Council, 2002.
c. Develop a strategy to emphasize the importance of systematic giving and emphasize
responsible systematic giving as the foundation for church finances.
d. Restore the value of systematic giving, to encourage attitudinal and motivational
e. Create a commission to study whether the use of our tithe is consistent at
all church levels. Reemphasize the unique holiness of the tithe.
f. Develop a strategy to connect the activities of the departments and services
of the church to the mission.
g. Develop a communication strategy regarding the use of funds at every level.
h. Develop a strategy for leadership ethics. A statement on financial integrity
and transparency was adopted by the world church during Annual Council, 2002.
3. Two writers' workshops were held: one for division directors
and others to better their understanding of the new approach, and help them
develop materials and seminars contextualized to their own situation.
The second workshop was for Sabbath school leaders/editors and
contract writers to help them learn the concept of biblical stewardship and
prepare new Sabbath school lessons to include biblical stewardship principles.
4. We created a three-level certification program:
a. Basic Stewardship Educator, focusing on teaching
biblical stewardship principles
b. Professional Stewardship Trainers for those who train pastors and
c. Stewardship Consultant, focusing on equipping a select group with
the consultation skills to help develop a
5. We produced two stewardship seminars on video and audio:
a. Strategic Stewardship, for administrators, pastors,
and church leaders
b. Normal Christianity, for church members
6. Divisions were helped to reproduce all stewardship education material throughout
7. We redesigned and continued publication of the 16-page quarterly
thematic stewardship resource journal, Dynamic Steward, edited by Claire Eva,
which offers stewardship concepts, sermons, book reviews, youth and adult resources,
and stewardship news.
8. We created a Web site to be the electronic library of the
department. Its aim is to share resource materials, teach concepts, and communicate
9. We published:
a. The Spirit of Sacrifice and Commitment, a collection
of stories of Adventist pioneers and the establishment of our church. Produced
to help church members reaffirm their place in the remnant church and renew
their support of it. (This book sold more than 10,000 copies in its first month
b. The Missing Connection. Where Life Meets Lordship. A collection of concept
articles by Ben Maxson that cover all areas of stewardship in the life of the
c. Strategic Church Finances, by Ben Maxson. A new seminar to teach how the
Adventist Church manages its resources.
d. Tithing in the Writings of Ellen G White, a study by Angel Rodríguez,
director of Biblical Research Institute.
e. Tithing in the New Testament and the Christian Church, a theological study
by Angel Rodríguez.
10. The department continued to provide tithe and offering readings
to all divisions and unions, to be reproduced and used in the local churches.
11. We developed various seminars and PowerPoint presentations
on topics such as Church Budgeting and Time Management.
Future Goals and Objectives
1. Provide a family finance seminar to help members master their resources,
be faithful, and stay out of debt.
2. Provide a kit for a three-year stewardship plan at the local
church level to be used by pastors or lay leaders. It will include a three-year
plan, sermon outlines, and weekly materials and resources, so leaders may include
elements of biblical stewardship in their worship and church life.
3. Identify stewardship trends that affect our church and its
4. Continue to implement "self-reliance" through training
developing appropriate resources.
5. Focus on training qualified and equipped stewardship leaders
for divisions, unions, and conferences. Refine, expand, and continue to implement
the stewardship certification process and curriculum to train division and union
stewardship personnel as leaders and trainers. This will include stewardship
institutes, designed to take selected personnel through to the second level
of certification in a 90-hour training program over a period of 17 days.
6. Begin a series of stewardship education booklets, for use
by both administrators and church members, on subjects such as capital funding,
tithe, offerings, biblical stewardship, time management, etc.
7. Conduct stewardship consultations for selected conferences
to help develop a customized local stewardship strategy.
8. Develop and provide various methods to help pastors determine
local church faithfulness levels, encouraging appropriate reporting of critical
data through the different organizational levels.
Issues of Concern
1. Our (sometimes) contradictory approach to church funding.
2. Growing secularization--lack of integration of God into daily
3. Lack of balance between cognitive and relational truth. This
includes the need to focus on building disciples, not mere converts.
4. Performance-based life and ministry focus that often has
little room for intimacy with God and discipleship maturation.
5. Diminishing impact of leader-ship role, and the scarcity
of qualified leaders in the area of stewardship.
6. Contemporary giving and stewardship trends that reflect a
secularization of society and church.
7. Development of psychological and sociological maturations
without accompanying spiritual maturity.
8. Recruiting and training pastors with biblical stewardship
concepts and strategies.
9. Working with administrative leadership to implement a biblical
stewardship approach to church finances.
10. Frequent turnover of stewardship department directors from
division to conference levels.
Convinced that our mission is to make disciples, the GC Stewardship
Department is committed to continuing to train pastors and church members to
grow spiritually and be ready to be given the final reward: "Well done,
good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will
make you ruler over many things" (Matt. 25:23, NKJV).