Statement of Philosophy & Mission
Stewardship is the lifestyle of the one who accepts Christ’s lordship and walks in partnership with God, acting as His agent in managing His affairs on earth.
Stewardship began with God’s creation of Adam and Eve in His own image. With His personal touch, God established an intimate relationship and union with humanity that was to be nurtured in the intimacy of time spent together. This shared image1 and shared intimacy 2 are foundational to understanding the spirit and dynamics of biblical stewardship.
God established Adam and Eve as rulers over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Through this act, God made them His partners over creation — placing the entire world as their trust in shared governance3 with Him. It was in Eden that humanity first became stewards, and acted as God’s agents on earth. In this sense, God established a relationship of interdependence4 with humanity. The awesome concept of God’s dependence upon humanity is crucial to our accepting full dependence upon Him.
When sin entered the world, it shattered and distorted God’s creation and separated mankind from God. The union with God was broken, the image of God was marred, the shared governance was surrendered, and this earth became sin’s domain.
In Jesus Christ, God restored this divine-human relationship and re-established His kingdom on earth. Thus the gospel provides reconciliation between God and humanity as Christ became the second Adam, winning back humanity’s lost stewardship. Today, stewardship begins with the recognition of God’s sovereignty as Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Owner.
Through the incarnation, Christ identified Himself fully with humanity. The shared intimacy of God with mankind is embodied in Jesus Christ—the God-man. His life and death form the basis for a renewed relationship with God. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the living presence of Jesus restores the reality of a shared intimacy between God and man.
As the model steward, Jesus Christ demonstrated the lifestyle of the individual in union with God. Through His ministry in heaven, Christ enthrones humanity with Him, (Eph. 2:6) and renews humanity’s partnership with God. In this partnership, the human agent functions as regent under the authority of God. When allowed to live on the throne of one’s life, God lifts the believer to sit with Him on His throne. All the power of heaven is available to aid God’s stewards in their daily lives.
Restoring the image of God in humanity is part of the redemption process. While not complete before the Second Coming, the process begins here on earth. The Holy Spirit brings the promised presence of Christ into the life of the believer (John 14:16-20), and begins a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Sinful humanity, saved by grace, once again shares the image of God (2 Pet. 1:4). Through the power of the living Christ, the believer who accepts the gift is once again in complete union with God.
While enthroned by God in heavenly places with Christ, the believer is totally dependent upon Him for every aspect of life. Yet God is also dependent upon humanity. He has chosen to depend upon His believers as the ultimate demonstration of His power and character to the world. He trusts humanity with a complete partnership in union with Him. This renewed interdependence of the believer and God provides the model for relationships with other human beings. The corporate dimension of the Church as the Body of Christ, with Him as its head, reflects the ultimate level of partnership and/or stewardship. Each part of the Body, individually or as a group, grows and matures through interdependence. Interdependent with God, the members of His Body are also interdependent with each other. At first, the individual or even a corporate group is totally dependent on the rest of the Body. With growth and maturation, strength is gained until the individual or group is able to contribute to the Body as a whole. Stewardship is an important ministry in fostering this growth in interdependence.
Through a discipleship walk, stewards acknowledge God’s lordship and surrender every area of life to Him. Discipleship — moving the entire life towards God — takes place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He recreates the believer in the image of God. Faithful stewardship5 is the Christian lifestyle, and the joyful result of a personal relationship of assurance in Jesus Christ.
The issues of time and money are critical in stewardship because they are the two most fluid dimensions of life. The management of these two areas most quickly reflects and influences one’s spiritual life. God created the Sabbath as the crowning act of creation week. He asked humanity to rest and worship Him before doing anything else, as a sign that they accepted Him as their Creator and Sovereign. God established the system of tithes and offerings for the same purpose. Through the tithe we worship God and acknowledge Him as our Lord. We recognize that all we are and have belong to Him. God asks that the first portion of time and first portion of our material possessions be given to Him, as a sign that the believer accepts the covenant relationship with God. God then invites the individual to live the rest of his or her life in partnership with Him.
Thus, stewardship carries over into every area of the life of an individual or church. It provides the foundation and motivation for ministry and witness. Living in partnership with God shapes the priorities and focus. And as believers grow in this partnership, the Holy Spirit guides them to provide the financial support for the church as the Body of Christ.
The mission of the Department of Stewardship is to emphasize the lordship of Jesus Christ, to enhance the integration of the gospel into the Christian lifestyle, to encourage faithful stewardship, and to facilitate the individual, corporate and leadership dimensions of stewardship as partnership with God.
1 Shared image is the first of four foundational stewardship principles found in the creation story and the plan of redemption. Shared image reflects the reality that God created humanity in His own image, and that He restores man to that image by imparting His character or nature, through the role and function of the Holy Spirit.
2 Shared intimacy began with God’s creation of Adam and Eve. By shaping them with His hands, and giving them life by the intimacy of His breath, God created humanity in and for intimacy with Him. He intended that humanity should continue to live out this relationship. When sin shattered this intimacy, God restored it through the incarnation of Christ. In union with Him, humanity once again finds the intimacy of a personal relationship with God. This shared intimacy constitutes a second foundational principle of stewardship.
3 Shared governance is the third foundational principle, and it began when at creation, God made Adam and Eve rulers over this world. They were to function as His representatives, managing His affairs on earth. This shared governance is restored when an individual accepts Christ as Savior and accepts the reality that in Him, he or she is raised to sit with Him on His throne in heavenly places. Then the Christian again enters into the wonder of acting as God’s agent over His affairs on earth, in a full partnership of shared governance as Christ reigns as Lord of the human heart.
4 Interdependence is the realization and implementation of an approach to life and ministry that acknowledges that God created each individual and organization of the church to be part of the greater whole. The church is the Body of Christ, and as such, members are dependent upon and accountable to God and to each other. Only in the context of this interdependence can the church truly function as a body, and each believer grow to his or her fullness in Christ.
5 Faithful stewardship is a foundational principle indicating the response of the believer to God’s initiative in creation and redemption. It indicates an acceptance of the relationship established by God, and the willingness to integrate obedience into every area of life, including our tithes and offerings