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.
“All is a gift from God: everything we are and have is freely given for our good, without condition or reservation. In gratitude of this truth, we believe in giving back to The Body of Christ all that God desires from us of our time, our abilities (spiritual gifts), and our personal possessions – proportionately as we have been blessed.”
“Grateful” author, Rev. Hezekiah Walker is a popular American gospel music artist and pastor of a prominent Brooklyn New York megachurch. His award winning gospel song is a heartfelt enriching worship of the many blessings our God bestows to each of us and is a praise staple in many of our American Baptist Churches. The praise song begins with – “I am grateful for the things you have done. Yes I’m grateful …”
For over two millenniums, stewardship has been lifted up in many of our faith-led churches. Today, many churches are beginning to offer a renewed stewardship emphasis by clergy and core lay leaders throughout the body of Christ.
ABCUSA’s Generosity Project, under the leadership of Rev. Stacy Emerson, has launched an exciting pilot stewardship journey that emphasizes much more than money or wealth.
The slippery stewardship hill that we all must navigate on our journey is communicating that it’s not just about money. All is a gift from God – our daily bread, our families, our time (168 hours each week), our spiritual gifts (talents for secular & non-secular use), and our treasure (financial resources). They are all gifts to each of us to undertake as God’s stewards the building up the Kingdom of God in our homes, neighborhoods, churches, regions, and nation, as well as globally. The outcomes can be enormous.
Over thirty plus years, I have been blessed to serve and observe secular and non-secular institutions, education, healthcare, community based organizations and diverse denominations. During that time, sacrificial stewardship initiatives have been launched in several hundred churches. When asked during small group exercises to personally convey what makes giving back to God’s body so important for consecrated Christians, the answers were as varied as the diverse groups participating. Gratitude and Love stood out.
Here are a few of the responses as to why we give sacrificially to God:
• Trust in God
• A part of Worship
• Demonstrates Spiritual Growth
• Magnifies our Praise
• Obedience to God the Father
• Promotes our Faith towards God
• Follow Biblical Principles (God’s Word)
• Shows Commitment vs. simply habit
• Thanksgiving for His goodness
• Conscientious & mindful act
• Life Enriching
• Habit of Thanksgiving
• Principles that are Taught
• Impacts special Causes & Ministries
• Tithing Changes Hearts & Spirits
• Requires a constant Prayerful Decision
• Engages the Heart, not just habit
• Reinforces Love of the Father
• Helps believers Magnify God, First, not myself
• Gratitude for all God’s generosity
Each of us has battled with a desire to place first: in games, in employment, in love and in life. It is not surprising that, even today, it is an extraordinary commitment that is required to place what is important first. Our spirit, mind and body collectively will guide us to what comes first in our lives. Placing God first can be viewed as training or retraining our spirit, our mind and our body to freely accept God’s will and not our own earthly desires.
Stewardship is truly a leap of gratitude and love. Both give glory, thanksgiving and praise to God. Yet it can only be accomplished through the principles our Lord teaches us within the Bible.
Our generosity as believers begins with gratitude and love:
• By gratitude and love we place God first in our life;
• By gratitude and love we understand all belongs to my Lord;
• By gratitude and love we know to stand on God’s promise;
• By gratitude and love we strive to be more like Abel and less like Cain;
• By gratitude and love we manage our time for Kingdom building;
• By gratitude and love we give of our spiritual gifts in gratitude to God for our many blessing;
• By gratitude and love she gave her last meal to Elijah;
• By gratitude and love we give in love for we know all belongs to God; and
• By gratitude and love we give eagerly, (cheerfully) hilariously to advance God’s Kingdom.
Join me in mid-November to explore the goals of the Generosity Project and to see challenges that we may face along the way.
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.