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Published on November 15th, 2017 | by Bridget Lipin

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Generosity: The Subject Jesus Talked About Most

A team working together around the challenge of stewardship in the 21st century has worked hard over the past eighteen months to put together “The Generosity Project,” a pilot program running from Sept. 2017 – Dec. 2018 which will work to provide stewardship resources and support to a cohort group of pastors from New England regions. Members of the team have prepared blogs for “The Generosity Project” participants, which will also be shared on the ABCUSA website in the coming months.  To learn more about The Generosity Project, click here.

In November, team member Ken Marsenburg, Director of Development for the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary, provides his thoughts about stewardship and giving.

And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s. Luke 20:25 (KJV)

The late Rev. Dr. Charles Hagadorn wrote in the 50’s a sermon entitled – The Subject Jesus Talked About Most.  He begins by reinforcing a biblical fact that reshaped the conversation around stewardship and generosity.  As he shared, “A third of all Jesus’s parables, a sixth of all the verses in the Gospels deal with the right use of our possessions.”

Reshaping our conversations around possession is a real challenge for many.  The conversation surrounding our possessions (time, talents and spiritual gifts as well as treasure) is a challenge to our hearts and gratefulness as much today as ever before.  However it must begin with the recognition of where we as believers are with respect to the right use of possessions.  First, it’s a matter of acquisition. Secondly, right use.  Third and equally important is the proportionate gifting of one’s possessions for Kingdom building.  Those open and honest conversations may disclose reasons some did not (or do not) engage in proportionate giving back to God.  A few of those reasons disclosed over thirty plus years have been shared from hundreds of churches in small groups or one-on-one interviews and are listed below:

Why We Don’t Give

• Fear versus Trust in God
• Talent is Enough
• Don’t see the Need
• Old Testament laws not relevant today
• Don’t want to
• Don’t agree with use/expenditure of funds
• Not there yet / Spiritual Maturity
• Too many request for funds/volunteerism
• God knows my Heart
• Family obligations come first
• Lack of Time
• Endowment takes care of church
• Lack of Abilities
• Preparing to Retire
• Lack of Funds
• Child (grandchild) in College
• It Hurts
• Just starting my family
• My Time is Enough
• Never taught about stewardship
• Too many Distractions
• Never personally asked

Perhaps we must be more vigilant to connect Time, Talent and Treasure with Trust and Transformation of Hearts.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:21)  The Generosity Project is intended to celebrate, challenge and change perspectives about stewardship. Intimate small group discussions surrounding possessions can through prayer spark transformation of hearts and subsequently stewardship resulting in:

• Knowing the goal
• Seeing the Challenge
• Changing Hearts
• Freedom to Serve
• Freedom to Give
• Redeeming Time
• Knowing Stewardship is Worship

Shaping and Reshaping conversations around stewardship is starts with the heart. In God’s scriptures and parables Jesus makes a startling connection between our viewing habits – what we gaze at, look at and mull over and a heart condition that is either “full of light” or “great darkness.”  This heart condition, in turn, seems to correspond to a master who dominates and rules our life – either God or mammon.  The Generosity Project will help to redevelop conversations based on God’s word and the subject Jesus talked about most.  Stay tuned for more good news as together we tap into God’s word and the light that inspires ministry.

Bio: Deacon Kenneth (Ken) Marsenburg is ABCUSA’s Director of Development serving through the Office of the General Secretary. For over 30 years, Ken has served as consultant and director in initiatives raising well over $750 million for secular and religious organizations throughout our Nation, including the 1985 $32 million ABCUSA Alive in Mission campaign.  He has been privileged to serve diverse protestant denominations, healthcare, and educational institutions providing hands on experience with all facets of fundraising and solicitation resulting in five to eight figure major gifts as well as hundreds of comprehensive church stewardship initiatives with measurable outcomes. 


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