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A steward is a caretaker of something that does not belong to him/her but to whom responisbility has been given by the owner. Therefore, the steward has a special relationship with the owner. To be a Christian steward is to commit to a lifestyle that accepts this special relationship with God.
God created the universe. It is impossible for a person to understand their role as a Christian steward without acknowledging God’s ownership. As part of God’s creation, humanity has been given the ability to choose to be faithful or to rebel against God, thus choosing to be a faithful or rebellious steward.
While stewardship relates closely with the use of one’s possessions, it actually involves the total life of an individual; the investment of his/her time and influence; the way he/she relates tot he resources of the created world; the way that one lives their life in relationship to God, the Creator; as well as one’s involvement in sharing the gospel with the world.
A local church is charged with the taks of communicating with its people the proper understanding of stewardship and teaching responsibility that is to become a part of the lifestyle of a Christian at all levels of life.
Financial Stewardship is not only a personal responsibility but also the responsibility of the church. As individuals contribute to the work of the Church, they need the assurance that their giving is received and distributed appropriately by the financial officers who have been instilled with the responsibility of caring for the church’s finances.
An annual budget is necessary to provide guildelines for planned expenditures that are based upon expected income. The key word here is “planned.” A budget allows the church officers to plan the projected expenses for the year and to make decisions based upon the plan. A budget not only allows a congregation to spend wisely but also provides the opportunity to plan for needed ministry issues and to see that funding is made available. Otherwise, vision may be stifled because of the uncertainty of the needed financial support.
Churches that operate without a budget usually find that they are operating in a “hand to mouth” or emergency mode. A budget allows persons who have been given proper authority to operate within the scope of their budget without having to gain approval for each expenditure. The budget also places the responsibility for the expenditures of the church in the hands of a group of persons, a task usually left to the treasurer where there is no budget.
Churches should select/elect qualified individuals to handle their financial concerns. If at all possible, the person given this responsibility should have knowledge of business procedures and be skilled in keeping financial records. Payroll, tax payments, reports to government agencies, etc. are all necessary concerns which must be given proper attention by the person charged with this responsibility. This person also should keep current with new directives that come from government agencies.
A church should make certain that their financial officers are bonded and that their records are audited annually. This protection not only serves the church, but protects the financial officer(s).
The Churches of God, General Conference support the act of tithing. Tithing is the act of giving to God one-tenth of an individual’s income. This giving is done to support the various ministries of the church. Offerings are considered to be giving above the scripturally mandated tithe.
Many in the church would teach “Storehouse Tithing” which believes that it is the obligation of church members to give to God through the local church and the tithe should not be given elsewhere. Others would agree that giving of the tithe to God may happen ouside the boundaries of the local church as long as God’s work is receiving the gift.
Generally speaking, it is the understanding of the Church that tithing is being obedient to God; it prospers the church; it provides money to do ministry/win souls; it causes the tither to grow spiritually; and, ultimately, it prospers the tither financially. However, tithing is not to be considered as a means of receiving the blessing of God. The attitude of the giver in presenting their gift is basic to the act of tithing.
The General Conference of the Churches of God depends upon the giving of the local Regions/Conferences to fund the ministries of the Denomination. The giving of an individual supports the local church which gives to the local Region/Conference which, in turn, gives to the General Conference.
Regions/Conferences are asked to support the General Conference at a level that provides income to support the Cooperative ministries of the churches in the Denomination. Cooperative ministries include the work of the General Conference Administrative Council, funding the work of the dministrative office, Church Planting efforts on the Denominational level, certain youth and family ministries, certain cross-cultural ministries, as well as other areas of ministries including communications and support of Winebrenner Theological Seminary.
Designated giving is giving above the Cooperative level and is done to support particular designated areas of ministry that the Denomination has chosen to do together. Support of individual missionaries, church planters, ACTS teams, certain youth educational ministries, certain ministries to the University of Findlay and Winebrenner Theological Seminary, as well as other designated projects of the church are funded through designated giving from Regions/Conferences, churches arid individuals.
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