Stewardship is the lifestyle of the one who accepts Christ’s lordship and walks in partnership with God, acting as His agent in managing His affairs on earth. Stewardship began with God’s act of creating Adam and Eve in His own image. With His personal touch, God established an intimate relationship and union with humanity that was to be nurtured in the intimacy of time spent together. This shared image and shared intimacy are foundational to understanding the spirit and dynamics of biblical stewardship.
God established Adam and Eve as rulers over the earth (Gen 1:26-28). Through this act, God made them His partners over creation-placing the entire world as their trust in shared governance with Him. It was in Eden that humanity first became stewards and acted as God’s agents on earth. In this sense, God established a relationship of interdependence with humanity. The awesome concept of God’s dependence upon humanity is crucial to our acceptance of our full dependence upon Him.
When sin entered the world, it shattered and distorted God’s creation and separated mankind from God. The union with God was broken, the image of God was marred, the shared governance was surrendered, and this earth became sin’s domain.
In Jesus Christ, God restored this divine-human relationship and re-established His kingdom on earth. Thus the gospel provides reconciliation between God and humanity. Christ became the second Adam, winning back humanity’s lost stewardship. Today, stewardship begins with the recognition of God’s sovereignty as Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Owner.
Through the incarnation, Christ identified Himself fully with humanity. The shared intimacy of God with mankind is embodied in Jesus Christ, the God-man. His life and death form the basis for a renewed relationship with God. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the living presence of Jesus restores the reality of a shared intimacy between God and man.
As the model steward, Jesus Christ demonstrated the lifestyle of the individual in union with God. Through His ministry in heaven, Christ enthrones humanity with Him, (Eph. 2:6) and renews humanity’s partnership with God. In this partnership, the human agent functions as regent under the authority of God. When allowed to live on the throne of one’s life, the believer is lifted by God to sit with Him on His throne. All the power of heaven is available to aid God’s stewards in their daily lives.
Restoring the image of God in humanity is part of the redemption process. While not complete before the Second Coming, the process begins here on earth. The Holy Spirit brings the promised presence of Christ into the life of the believer (John 14:16-20), and begins a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Sinful humanity, saved by grace, once again shares the image of God (2 Peter 1:4). Through the power of the living Christ, the believer who accepts the gift is once again in complete union with God.
While enthroned by God in heavenly places with Christ, the believer is totally dependent upon Him for every aspect of life. Yet God is also dependent upon humanity. He has chosen to depend upon His believers as the ultimate demonstration of His power and character to the world. He trusts humanity with a complete partnership in union with Him. This renewed interdependence of the believer and God provides the model for relationships with other human beings. The corporate dimension of the Church as the Body of Christ, with Him as its head, reflects the ultimate level of partnership and/or stewardship. Each part of the Body, individually or as a group, grows and matures through interdependence. Interdependent with God, the members of His Body are also interdependent with each other. At first, the individual or even a corporate group, is totally dependent on the rest of the Body. With growth and maturation, strength is gained until the individual or group is able to contribute to the Body as a whole. Stewardship is an important ministry in fostering this growth in interdependence.
Through a discipleship walk, stewards acknowledge God’s lordship and surrender every area of life to Him. Discipleship (moving the entire life towards God) takes place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He recreates the believer in the image of God. Faithful stewardship is the Christian lifestyle and the joyful result of a personal relationship of assurance in Jesus Christ.
The issues of time and money are critical in stewardship because they are the two most fluid dimensions of life. The management of these two areas most quickly reflects and influences one’s spiritual life. God created the Sabbath as the crowning act of creation week. He asked humanity to rest and worship Him before doing anything else, as a sign that humanity accepted Him as their Creator and Sovereign. God established the system of tithes and offerings for the same purpose. Through the tithe we worship God and acknowledge Him as our Lord. We recognize that all we are and have belongs to Him. God asks that the first portion of time and first portion of our material possessions be given to Him as signs that the believer accepts the covenant relationship with God. God then invites the individual to live the rest of his/her life in partnership with Him.
Thus, stewardship carries over into every area of the life of an individual or church. It provides the foundation and motivation for ministry and witness. Living in partnership with God shapes the priorities and focus. As believers grow in this partnership, the Holy Spirit guides them to provide the financial support for the church as the Body of Christ.
The mission of the Department of Stewardship is to emphasize the lordship of Jesus Christ, to enhance the integration of the gospel into the Christian lifestyle, to encourage faithful stewardship, and to facilitate the individual, leadership, and corporate dimensions of stewardship as partnerships with God.
Purpose and Function
The Department of Stewardship assists administration in accomplishing the mission of the Church through leadership training and the education of church members in stewardship principles. More specifically, the purpose of the Department of Stewardship is to aid in the integration of the faith walk with God into every area of life individually and corporately.
The functions of the Department of Stewardship are:
- To articulate a biblical vision of stewardship and the integration of the lordship of Jesus Christ into every area of life, and to call the Church to a total commitment of the entire life and all resources and possessions to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
- To develop and present a biblical approach to stewardship as the lifestyle lived in union and partnership with God.
- To continue the work of tithe and offering education and the implementation of the recommended Seventh-day Adventist Financial Support Plan. This would help members grow in the understanding of their role in the corporate stewardship of the church as the Body of Christ, its financial support through systematic benevolence, and the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding the individual and corporate giving systems.
- To develop concepts and appropriate resources for empowering members and leaders to implement stewardship principles, especially those materials that cannot be produced as economically and effectively in a division or union office.
- To encourage increased financial responsibility and accountability, as well as greater levels of financial self support and interdependence, individually and corporately.
- To help create an understanding of the balance between a regular giving system and special project giving as two dimensions of systematic benevolence which work in harmony. Thus each believer is encouraged to provide regular, systematic support for the local church, conference/mission, and world missions, and in addition join in supporting special projects as led by the Holy Spirit.
- To give leadership and coordination to those programs that the church body, through its general councils, may decide should be given unified support around the world and may assign to the Department of Stewardship as its responsibility.
Areas of Emphasis
The Department of Stewardship focuses upon the following areas of emphasis in the fulfilment of its purpose and mission:
- Spiritual Renewal–Spiritual renewal must form the foundation for any Department of Stewardship thrust. Since stewardship involves the entire person living in a growing partnership with God, any strategy must build on spiritual renewal. The Department of Stewardship will encourage and foster materials to aid in the spiritual growth of individuals as well as the corporate body.
- Organizational Renewal–Organizational renewal is also an important area of emphasis for the Department of Stewardship. Confidence in leadership and the church structure has a direct impact on individual stewardship. Enhancing a spiritual foundation for the organizational structure and function provides a context in which individuals can more effectively grow spiritually.
- Personal Life Management–The secular and materialistic thrust of our society must be met in a more biblical way. Stewardship must be integrated into every area of life. Thus personal and total life management are areas which the Department of Stewardship seeks to strengthen and resource.
- Christian Money Management–People’s use of money is a reflection of their walk with God. Thus, biblical principles of money management are an important part of integrating the lordship of Christ into this critical area of life. The Department of Stewardship will continue to develop materials to help in the area of biblical principles for money management.
- Seventh-day Adventist Financial Support Plan-The Department of Stewardship will continue to assist administration in tithe and offering education through materials to support the implementation of the Seventh-day Adventist Financial Support Plan, including the Personal Choice Giving Plan.