All pastors have their favorite stewardship thoughts. Here are a few of mine.
Many people are familiar with 300, the recent movie about King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans who took their famous stand against tens of thousands of Persians at the battle of Thermopylae. The Spartans were excellent warriors because they focused on their role as soldiers to the exclusion of all else. Part of their training for the military involved learning to disdain material goods.
Accordingly, Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, decreed that there would be no gold coins in all of Sparta. Rather, all gold was to be in the form of nails. This way, any Spartan soldier attempting to hoard pockets full of gold would be sorely pricked in the process.
In truth, a life spent pursuing the material can prove painful in the long run. Be careful not to become too enamored with the things of this world. Focus rather on the spiritual realm and the eternal struggle we have been called to pursue. For here alone will we find true victory and true fulfillment.
The above is an example of what I do each week before we receive the offering. I call it a “Giving Moment”. It is designed to be short, usually light-hearted reminder of our responsibility to be faithful stewards as Christians.
I first got the idea from Marshall Hayden in a book he wrote titled Things to Say Before the Offering (Standard Publishing, 1994, ISBN-10: 0784702241, ISBN-13: 978-0784702246). He also published an earlier book titled 200 Stewardship Meditations (Standard Publishing, 1984, ISBN-10: 0872397807, ISBN-13: 978-0872397804).
As a general rule, this allows me not to have to focus entire sermons on stewardship. There are times, however, when that is needed, such as whenever we are in a Capital Stewardship Campaign. But, again, the “Giving Moment” usually serves as sufficient motivation for giving, when done each week.
The newspapers are the best places to find “Giving Moments”. Simply perusing the headlines on a regular basis will generally provide all the fodder that is needed.
Here are several recent examples:
1. An article about IRS employees being delinquent on paying their own taxes. (Christians above all people should be faithful in giving back to the kingdom.)
2. A story about a mountain climber who gladly burned money in his wallet when he was lost rather than freeze to death. (Money loses its importance in light of more important matters.)
3. An article about pocket change left in TSA bins at airports totaling almost $400k last year. (How little amounts added together can make a big difference.)
4. An article about a man who returned money (with interest) he had stolen from an employer 60 years earlier. (Can be used at year-end giving push to encourage budget catch-up.)
However, as you can see form the movie illustration at the top of the page above, once you begin to look for them, “Giving Moment” ideas are readily available everywhere - in movies, books, television shows, and life in general.
If you need further resources for stewardship, here are some I have found to be helpful. Most all of these, even if out of print, can still be found through www.Amazon.com. NOTE: Do not discount this source material because some of it happens to be a little older. Often, this is where you find the very best quality.
Cargill Associates. Money Matters. Originally published by Cargill Associates in Fort Worth Texas, this is a good collection of stewardship messages by a proven fundraising company.
Carter, James E. A Sourcebook for Stewardship Sermons (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1979).