Christian Financial Stewardship
1. What is Christian Financial Stewardship?
A steward is one who has been entrusted with, and manages, another's resources according to the owner's vision and values. Each of us is entrusted with the stewardship of our lives and of the world in which we live. A steward is given the authority, accountability and resources to manage that which has been entrusted to her. The New Testament refers to Christians as caretakers of God's truths and gifts, even "God's grace". Part of Christian Financial Stewardship is the recognition that all we have, and we are, comes as a gift and is entrusted to us for us to enjoy, to use to bless the world, and to join God and one another in creating compassionate, humane and just communities that reveal God's good purposes. (Genesis. 1:28, I Corinthians. 4:1, I Peter 4:10)
2. What is a Christian understanding of generosity?
Generosity is the natural, consistent, and sometimes spontaneous giving of our material possessions in service to God and God’s purposes. For Christians, the root of generosity is both recognition of, and gratitude for, what God has done for us and for our world through Jesus Christ. In the vernacular, in Jesus God “went all in.” As Jesus’ followers, we respond in kind with both passion (the strong desire to act) and compassion. In the words of the apostle Paul, “God did not spare God’s own Son, but gave him up for us all" . The Christian response to what God has done is cheerful and sacrificial generosity. (Romans. 8:32)
3. What is the basis for the biblical concept of the tithe?
In the Old Testament, believers were required to give a tenth of their income to the support of the ministry and the needs of the poor. The New Testament teaches that we should give as we are "able and even beyond [our] ability" . So, the tithe (10%) is seen as a beginning point for giving. (2 Corinthians 8:3)
4. Do I base my tithe on gross or net income?
Scripture teaches that we are to give back to God our "first fruits". Proverbs 3:9 encourages us to "honor the LORD with [our] wealth, with the first fruits of [our] crops," meaning the primary and choicest of our possessions. With this in mind, the spirit of our generosity must factor into the actual material contribution. On the one hand the bible doesn’t anticipate things like modern income taxes and social security withholdings. On the other hand, the sort of social safety net of modern society did not exist for very many people in antiquity. Having said this, scripture surely understands human nature and how easy it is to let to our possessions possess us rather than the other way around. Do the math both ways – gross and net income -and then, with a discerning, joyful heart offer a tithe that is significant enough that is generous and sacrificial enough that it helps you to be free. (Exodus 23:16, 19, Proverbs 3:9)
5. What if I am unable to give 10% right now?
There are seasons to our economic life. There are financial responsibilities to our families, friends, communities and, in some cases, creditors. In any stage of life, good planning is necessary to increase our giving over time without neglecting our legal and personal financial obligations. Further, for some people, 10% is too low a starting point. For others, giving even 5% is a sacrifice. You will hear the term "proportional giving" or "stepping up" at NCC. This is an invitation review your current financial stewardship and consider stepping up a little at a time as your are able. If you are contributing 3% this year, consider moving toward 4% next year.The goal is to move up in one's commitment toward a tithe (10%) so our giving models Christ's love in and for our community and bears witness to the goodness, grace and generosity of God, the giver of every good and perfect gift.
6. Should I give all of my tithe/offering to Northfield Community Church?
This is an answer to which you must come by prayer and discernment. Your gift to and through the church is an act of personal worship to God in response to God’s grace in your life and in joyful recognition of what God has done for you in Jesus Christ and as part of the body of Christ, the church.
The allocation of the money and time entrusted to you and used by you for God's service is as a byproduct of prayer and consultation with other Christians to whom you are accountable. If you consider NCC your "home church," you should consider allocating a significant portion of your tithe and offering to the community where you invest most of your time and where others are investing in you. Recognize that, just as you are a conduit of blessing, so is your church and you can make a significant impact in, through and beyond this community by giving to Northfield Community Church and the various ministries and missions the congregation supports.
7. Isn't there more to generosity and stewardship than money?
To be a Christian is to recognize that we are stewards of all that God entrusts to us: money, time, skills, relationships, influence and power. Of course generosity and stewardship are about much more than money, but generosity and stewardship are about no less than money. A wise soul once observed that “we can easily identify what is most important to us just by looking at the ledger in our checkbook.” Jesus put it this way, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" . Our financial stewardship is part and parcel with how we prioritize our lives and allocate all our resources. In a place like the North Shore with so much wealth, money can become an idol. Therefore, giving it away generously to God's service is one way we can remain free from idolizing material things and focus on what actually satisfies our hunger and our longings and helps make our communities and our world a place of help, healing and hope. (Matthew. 6:21)
HOW DOES NCC REACH OUR VISION?
Part of NCC’s vision is to be “an oasis of grace in the heart of the community.” This also means having a heart for the community. NCC's vision is not only to be a good church or a good neighbor. Our vision is that the ministries and missions of the church reflect the words of the prophet Micah to “love justice, do kindness and walk humbly with God.” NCC’s mission is to be that place and people where God’s kingdom is made known. (Micah 6:8)