Submitted by Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, Conference Minister
Well, it’s that time of year again…Stewardship Season…pigskins are flying, the air will hopefully be cooling down and our congregations along with our conference are in need of a bountiful harvest. So the question needs to be asked; What gift will you bring to the giver?
Many years ago I was blessed with a theological mentor by the name of James William McClendon Jr. Jim was a Professor of Systematic Theology, a friend and a member of the one tiny “baptist” church that I served. Jim was a leader in the theological field known as “Narrative Theology” with one of his early books being seminal in the field. The book was entitled Biography as Theology and the thesis was quite straight forward. What we believe is not displayed in the words that we use but in the lives that we live. If we are really ready to investigate who we are as Christians, then we need to reflect upon our bank statements and our schedules. How we spend our time and our financial resources speak to who we really are deep inside.
However, our Christian faith cannot be captured via a snapshot of any given point in time. The authenticity of our faith shows itself in the longer narrative of our lives. Additionally, who we become as followers of Jesus Christ is highly dependent upon the habits and practices that we embody in our lives. My friend taught me that no single sermon would or need to be a home run. He taught me that each week the consummate preacher was diligent and consistent in preparation. Over time these practices repeated time and time again change who we are and help us to become the person God has created us to be. What is true for the clergy person is equally true for the layperson.
Becoming a good steward applies to far more than financial resources but covers the entire constellation of opportunities and challenges that constitute human life. When we practice a consistent discipline of prayer it leads over time to a closer relationship with the Divine. Out of this relationship, our character is sculpted and molded and we become more and more Christ-like. Giving of ourselves and our resources on a consistent basis changes who we are. We become generous hearts which is to say we inherit the heart of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we give for the welfare of our congregations and our South Central Conference not because the electricity would be shut off should we fail to do so. We give consistently and generously because it enhances our relationship with God and out of that relationship we inherit the life of abundance without limit that the bible describes as eternal life.
Please be as generous as you are able with your congregation and your conference this coming year.
May God bless you as you live forth into the fullness of who the Creator has created you to be.
Peace and Grace,
Dr. Don Longbottom
SCC Conference Minister