When the season of stewardship comes around each year, we might need to reclaim that word because it feels rather dated. Outside of the church, we do not use the word stewardship, or steward, often. Within the church, we say it to remember that we are stewards of somebody else’s land, caring for the world around us, which belongs to God.
With such a broad meaning, encompassing every aspect of life, it might feel awkward to only speak of stewardship when we are discussing the budget of the church. We should never narrow the meaning of stewardship to the outline of a single budget, but a budget does call forth conversation about stewardship.
In a budget, we find the intersection of beauty and utility, which is the character of stewardship. Our gifts foster beauty in this world, but also address concrete needs. At first glance, beauty and utility might seem exclusive from one another, but at second look, they go together.
A budget is more than a sheet of numbers; it also tells a story. The budget of Auburn First Baptist tells a little bit of its story. It is a story of beauty and utility. The budget designates expenses for sheet music and outreach, the power bill and construction paper, Vacation Bible School and paper plates, postage and garbage collection. It allocates support for Children’s Sabbath, the REACH ministry, and the Task Force for Battered Women. There is an intersection of beauty and utility.
Admittedly, it is not exciting to set aside money for the tires on the church bus, but when we consider what the youth experience at Passport each summer, we see the beauty in the utility. There is a story to the church budget. It is a story about community and God, so perhaps a budget conversation can help us talk about the broader meaning of stewardship as well.
We are thankful for the opportunity to join together through our gifts, sharing in this story! We are grateful for the commitment of the congregation. Each and every gift is valuable and an integral part of this story. As we reflect on the meaning of stewardship, we might discover more gratitude, grace, and generosity in the story we share together.