Consumers and stewards are made, not just born, and they are made largely by the culture around them. This series is about moving our people from consumers to stewards. The purpose is to help people discover their own generosity with their positions (place, power, status and credibility), their possessions (talents, assets, property and time), and their grace (gifts and virtue). Consumer to Steward means more than fundraising. It’s a movement, deep in the soul, toward being open instead of closed. It is trust instead of fear, abundance instead of scarcity, and gratitude instead of entitlement. Long before they give anything, stewards have a fundamentally different view of everything.
Week 1 “The Power of One: The 5 Practices of a Steward” John 6:1-15. Rev. Steve DeNeff
To think like a steward, we must put ourselves and all our belongings between God and whatever He is trying to do. Like the boy with his fish and loaves, stewards share their lunch so the multitudes can eat. But imagine what would happen if he did not; if he ate the lunch himself. This is what happens in a consumer culture like ours. This sermon will explore Jesus’ call to steward (“You feed them…”) and help people to identify what, exactly, there lunch is, then show them what happens when they give it away.
Week 2 “Taking: Thinking and Acting Like an Owner ” Luke 19:11-27. Rev. Emily Vermilya
“In most of us, there is a strong connection between our concept of God and our level of generosity. This sermon will explore that connection in the contrast between the mindset of a consumer (“I kept it laid away”) and a steward (“You have been trustworthy in very small matters”), and show how our concept of God (“I was afraid of you . . . Sir, here is your talent”) directly affects what we think of ourselves and our possessions. It will call us to think and act like an owner of our possessions so that we can be held accountable for them.”
Week 3 “Blessing: Living Between Ambition and Contentment ” Luke 12:13-21. Rev. Steve DeNeff
Long before stewards can be generous, they must learn to live more simply. While striving to live fruitful lives (ambition), they must be grateful for what they already have (contentment). The key to this freedom is not just following whatever impulses they have (“I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones”), but cultivating the right impulses for, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” While the consumer thinks only of “more,” the
steward has simplified his life and increased his margins for giving. He is “rich toward God.”
Week 4 “Breaking: Growing and Developing Our Capital” Luke 12:35-46. Steve DeNeff
To “break” what we possess is to multiply it or develop it, so that we can grow or expand our faculties, our talents, our resources and opportunities. Together with our commitment to “bless” it (or to live within its means) this is the key to our long-term giving and it is the key to giving more. Like the stewards in these parables, we are to grow our capital and to further the Master’s business by doing what we were assigned to do.
Week 5 “Giving: Releasing What We Cannot Keep to Gain What We Cannot Lose” Luke 10:25-37. Steve DeNeff
Giving is the most visible act of a steward. It’s the culmination of all their preparation up to now. Yet we don’t always have to wait. Sometimes we can start with the practice of giving and not only our money, but our time (“he went to him and bandaged his wounds”), our possessions (“and poured on oil and wine”), and our property (“then he put the man on his donkey”). We can start with what little we have and give it. This sermon will explore the different levels of giving that act as a ladder of generosity, and encourage our people to climb one rung on the ladder.
Week 6 “Leaving: Empowering the Next Generation to be Stewards Themselves” Luke 16:1-8. Steve DeNeff
In this complex parable, Jesus shows how a shrewd manager uses what he has, for as long as he has it, to gain for himself honor in the day when it’s all been taken away. This message will encourage our people to store up treasures in heaven by empowering the next generation with skills and assets so they can be stewards themselves. We’ll discuss creative ways to leave reservoirs of talent, ideas and money for the stewards of tomorrow.