Stewardship: Giving Back to God
"...We thank you, our God, and praise your glorious Name ...for all things come from you and we have only given back what is yours already."
(I Chronicles 29:13-14)
What does the Bible say about Stewardship?
Give without show - "Let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing." (Matt.6:3).
Give with regularity in proportion - "Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." (I Cor. 16:2)
Give liberally - "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (II Cor. 9:6)
Give cheerfully - "Let everyone give as his heart tells him, neither grudgingly, nor under compulsion, for God loves the man that gives cheerfully." (II Cor. 9:7)
Who is the Church?
The Church is you, your family and your relatives. The Church is all of us together. The Church is people who have a common spiritual and religious bond. The bond is Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus, the Church is the body of Christ. Our Church is the body of believing Orthodox Christians throughout the world; and it is our local congregation of believing Orthodox Christians.
What is the Church?
The Church is the vehicle for the mystical or sacramental life of the people. Through the Church we are cleansed, nourished and sustained by the Holy Spirit in the mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Confession, Holy Unction, Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders. The Church teaches us the Christian Faith. The Church provides us with fellowship and the activities that are needed in order to experience the fullness of our Faith in union with Christ.
Is there a difference in Church Membership?
Yes! There is "active membership" and "inactive membership". Active members are people who are baptized or chrismated in the Orthodox Church, who nurture their faith through participation in the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion, Confession, etc., and who contribute their resources, i.e., time, talent, ability and finances. Active members are members in good standing.
"Inactive members" are people who are baptized or chrismated in the Orthodox Church, who do not nurture their faith through participation in the Sacraments, such as Holy Communion, Confession, etc., and/or who do not contribute their resources, i.e., time, talent and finances. Sts. Peter and Paul needs your active membership. We need you as a steward.
How do I become an "active Church member?"
God has blessed each of us with unique talents and abilities. For Sts. Peter and Paul to become all that it can be, we need your active participation in the life of the Church (participation in the Sacraments, the local ministries and the various Church organizations).
Sts. Peter and Paul also needs your "fair share" of your financial resources. The burden of giving is on all of us. Only by giving my fair share percentage of my annual income can Sts. Peter and Paul grow in ministry and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What is the Stewardship Program of church support?
The Stewardship Program of Church Support is believing in Christ's Church and wanting to support and continue His work on earth.
Stewardship is a spiritual discipline that helps keep our lives focused upon God. It reminds us that all we have comes from God.
It is a way to meet our financial obligations to our Church and Parish with Christian concern, dignity and equity.
It is a means of financial support of the Church, based on true Christian giving and on our individual responsibility.
It is the one way that views the support of the Church as a matter of personal commitment and conscience. Stewardship eliminates inequalities and places the responsibility of Church support where it belongs- in the hands of each parishioner.
Who is included in the Stewardship Program?
The Stewardship of fair share giving includes husband, wife, children and all dependents. If self-supporting members of the family over the age of 18 live with their parents, they would make their own separate fair share giving. Family membership allows each Orthodox spouse voting privileges in parish matters.
What will my Stewardship Givings cover?
Your Stewardship givings will cover your annual Parish Membership (dues) commitment, but not special offerings or projects such as the Building Fund.
When does the Stewardship Program begin?
We will begin promoting the Stewardship Program for the next calendar year by giving you information via this writing. All our members will be invited to give a fair share percentage of their personal resources to support our Church for the upcoming calendar year. Our Stewardship Program will be in effect beginning in January, 2006. We will continue to keep track of your total givings, as usual, and a Statement will be forwarded to you for your IRS filing.
How much should I give to My Church?
True Stewardship is giving back to Christ's Church (for the perpetuation of God's work) a percentage of your financial resources - in proportion to the blessings you have received.
The amount each family gives will be different, because the resources of each family are different. Give in proportion to what you have been given; but give sacrificially.
The Bible encourages tithing as a guideline for giving. Tithing is when one gives cheerfully and voluntarily 10% of one's annual income for the glory and support of His Church. If you cannot give 10%, begin at 2 or 3% and challenge yourself to increase the percentage each year. God will honor your commitment. God will provide.
Do I have to disclose my income?
How confidential is my Stewardship Givings?
Only Persons authorized by the Parish Council have access to the Stewardship records. All records are kept in the strictest confidence.
How shall I pay my Stewardship Givings?
Just as you have been - through your weekly envelope offering. We are suggesting weekly givings since it would be easier to manage regular contributions rather than a large accumulated amount. Also, it will be easier for the Parish to plan its budget if the income is regular throughout the year.
But what if after I make my voluntary givings for the coming year known and sickness or misfortune or loss of job occurs?
Your admission of givings is not a contract. A parishioner may at any time make a private phone call or write a confidential letter to the Parish Priest to lower or discontinue his yearly fair share givings until circumstances allow him to resume his original total givings.
Should I increase my Fair Share Givings over the previous year?
If possible, yes. (Please refer to the cover letter, which gives the amount of your givings for year 2004.) The Sts. Peter and Paul Stewardship Program should cover the entire annual operating budget of the Church. This is our challenge. It should be the goal of each parishioner to give a portion of their blessings to meet this challenge.
Are there correct attitudes toward Christian giving?
Christian giving is focused on the soul and not on the purse. In making our Stewardship giving, we are not paying for something. We are offering our commitment to the cause of Jesus Christ and the Church which He established for us. Christian giving is focused on the love of Christ. Our giving is an expression of our love for Christ who gave His life for our salvation and well being. We give a percentage of our resources to continue the work of Christ in the world that others, too, may be blessed as we have been blessed.
How much should I give?
Your fair share giving is what you decide it to be. The proportion of your income you give to your Church depends upon:
How much you love Christ and His Church.
Your personal awareness of the needs of the Church and of the importance of the Church's role in the world today.
Your willingness to sacrifice.
Your recognition that regular and sacrificial giving to your Church is a measure of your personal gratitude toward God.
Are you giving in proportion to the blessings you have received from God?
REMEMBER STEWARDSHIP IS GIVING BACK TO GOD!
With the rising cost of today's living expenses, it behoves all of us to re-think our own personal expenses and include the church in our fair share of giving (according to our personal finances). Some of you already are good Stewards and have been giving your weekly fair share. Your consideration and response will be greatly appreciated for the good of our Church.