Administering Church Stewardship

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By John Thiel

Money is always one of those subjects which is looked upon with a business mind where people think the church is just making money of us but it is something much loftier than that. When the early church was established, where did their financial situations come into consideration? Apostle Peter was preaching under the power of the Holy Spirit and the impact of that took place.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.n42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common. 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.

Can you see the financial situation here? What did they do? They spent their financial well being for the cause. That is what is identified here.

When the grace of Christ is expressed in the words and works of the believers, light will shine forth to those who are in darkness; for while the lips are speaking to the praise of God, the hand will be stretched out in beneficence for the help of the perishing. We read that on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, no man said that aught that he possessed was his own. All they owned was held for the advance of the wonderful reformation. And thousands were converted in a day. When the same spirit actuates believers today, and they give back to God of His own with the same liberality, a wide and far-reaching work will be accomplished.–Manuscript 95, 1907. {WM 271.1}

All they owned was held for the advance of the wonderful reformation and thousands were converted in a day.

When the same spirit actuates believers today, and they give back to God of His own with the same liberality, a wide and far-reaching work will be accomplished.–Manuscript 95, 1907. {WM 271.1}

This is exactly what has been happening among us. You never have to preach about money. All you preach is the power of the Holy Spirit and this item of finances takes care of itself. I’ve experienced this time and time again. Here is the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit causes the hand to reach out in beneficence. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul deals with it. This is the same ting as the other when the person finds Jesus as a wonderful friend, they want to share that wonderful friend with everyone around them and all you have to do is administer that. With the finances it’s exactly the same thing. All you have to do is administer it.

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do yea. 2 Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by [your] letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

You can see there was management needed. They sold all their possessions, some people think they just became a commune. That is not what happened. Some interpret this wrong and they bring all their possessions and they live in a communal in style but if you read on it says they went from house to house where ever they lived. They still had their own possessions but they regarded everything they had as Gods. With their finances they had a church treasury to deal with that.

This matter of giving is not left to impulse. God has given us definite instruction in regard to it. He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation. And He desires us to give regularly and systematically. . . . Let each regularly examine his income, which is all a blessing from God, and set apart the tithe as a separate fund, to be sacredly the Lord’s. This fund should not in any case be devoted to any other use; it is to be devoted solely to support the ministry of the gospel. After the tithe is set apart, let gifts and offerings be apportioned, “as God hath prospered” you.–R. & H., May 9, 1893. {CS 80.3}

We are specifically told what the tithe is to be used for. The rest of the offerings were to be used according to the needs of the people.

The apostle suggests the first day of the week as a proper time to review the course of Providence and the prosperity experienced, and in the fear of God, with true gratitude of heart for the blessings He has bestowed, to decide how much, according to His own devised plan, shall be rendered back to Him. {3T 413.2}

God designs that the exercise of benevolence shall be purely voluntary, not having recourse even to eloquent appeals to excite sympathy. “God loveth a cheerful giver.” He is not pleased to have His treasury replenished with forced supplies. The loyal hearts of His people, rejoicing in the saving truth for this time, will, through love and gratitude to Him for this precious light, be earnest and anxious to aid with their means in sending the truth to others. The very best manner in which to give expression to our love for our Redeemer is to make offerings to bring souls to the knowledge of the truth. The plan of redemption was entirely voluntary on the part of our Redeemer, and it is the purpose of Christ that all our benevolence should be freewill offerings. {3T 413.3}

We are not to excite sympathy to appeal for money. We use our money as well as energy. We are not to pull on the heart strings of people for money. It is just simply the motive of the work of the Holy Spirit in the truth that is to generate that. That is why I like the offering box as there is not the slightest hint of soliciting money. People come voluntarily to put their money in the offering box. Where ever we have laboured under the power of the Holy Spirit, there was never lack as the people were moved by their own free will. What is the work of the minister in reference to this if this is not meant to be solicited? What is the work of the minster in financial matters?

Some fail to educate the people to do their whole duty. They preach that part of our faith which will not create opposition and displease their hearers; but they do not declare the whole truth. The people enjoy their preaching; but there is a lack of spirituality, because the claims of God are not met. His people do not give Him in tithes and offerings that which is His own. This robbery of God, which is practiced by both rich and poor, brings darkness into the churches; and the minister who labors with them, and who does not show them the plainly revealed will of God, is brought under condemnation with the people, because he neglects his duty.–R. & H., April 8, 1884. {CS 87.2}

I’m sure this raises some questions in your mind. What is the minister to do? Is he to solicit money? It is his responsibility to be a steward in the cause of good and in the presentation of God’s word he is not soliciting money, he is showing the power of God’s word in reference to tithes and offerings. There is a big difference between one and the other.

We are to give the message of warning to the world, and how are we doing our work? Are you, brethren, preaching that part of the truth that pleases the people, while other parts of the work are left incomplete? Will it be necessary for someone to follow after you, and urge upon the people the duty of faithfully bringing all the tithes and offerings into the Lord’s treasury? This is the work of the minister, but it has been sadly neglected. The people have robbed God, and the wrong has been suffered because the minister did not want to displease his brethren. God calls these men unfaithful stewards. –Review and Herald, July 8, 1884. {Ev 252.2}

The ministers are unfaithful stewards if they do not present this.

The minister, should by precept and example, teach the people to regard the tithe as sacred. He should not feel that he can retain it and apply it to his own judgment, because he is a minister. It is not his. He is not at liberty to devote to himself whatever he thinks is his due. Let him not give his influence to any plans for diverting from their legitimate use the tithes and offerings dedicated to God. Let them be placed in the Lord’s treasury, and held sacred for his service as He has appointed. {SpM 214.5}

The tithe is to be put in the treasury. What has God appointed the tithe to? This is very specific and needs to be carefully administered not to fall into any false use of tithes especially. The offerings are to be freewill offerings turned in the right direction where people want them to go.

A very plain, definite message has been given to me for our people. I am bidden to tell them that they are making a mistake in applying the tithe to various objects which, though good in themselves, are not the object to which the Lord has said that the tithe should be applied. Those who make this use of the tithe are departing from the Lord’s arrangement. God will judge for these things. {CS 102.2}

One reasons that the tithe may be applied to school purposes. Still others reason that canvassers and colporteurs should be supported from the tithe. But a great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object for which it is to be used–the support of the ministers. . . . {CS 102.3}

That’s what it is to be used for.

The tithe is the Lord’s, and those who meddle with it will be punished with the loss of their heavenly treasure unless they repent. Let the work no longer be hedged up because the tithe has been diverted into various channels other than the one to which the Lord has said it should go. Provision is to be made for these other lines of work. They are to be sustained, but not from the tithe. God has not changed; the tithe is still to be used for the support of the ministry.–9T 247-250. {CS 102.4}

When we employ in the church ministers, that is where the tithe is to go so they can in person ago and minister, raise churches and build up the Lord’s work. As tithes and offerings are therefore sent to the treasury, what counsel is given in regards to running the treasury?

Ezra 8:24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them,

8:25 And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, [even] the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel [there] present, had offered:

8:28 And I said unto them, Ye [are] holy unto the LORD; the vessels [are] holy also; and the silver and the gold [are] a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers.

8:29 Watch ye, and keep [them], until ye weigh [them] before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD.

The office of the treasury is holy. Such care was to be taken decently and in order so there was no danger of using that finance. They counted it again and again.

The blessing of God, however, did not make unnecessary the exercise of prudence and forethought. As a special precaution in safeguarding the treasure, Ezra “separated twelve of the chief of the priests”–men whose faithfulness and fidelity had been proved–“and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered.” {PK 616.2}

We are in danger of becoming so precautious that we don’t even trust the treasurer. These were chosen because they were trustworthy, they were faithful. The treasurer has to be chosen according to the trust we have in them.

These men were solemnly charged to act as vigilant stewards over the treasure entrusted to their care. {PK 616.2}

They were under Gods direction. Judas was a treasurer and he was trusted but what did he do? Jesus knew he was doing it. Did he call a committee? It is interesting if you think about it. He misused the money. We often fall into an unscriptural manner of dealing with our money. It says those men were charged to act vigilant. You are holy unto the Lord he declared and the vessels are holy.

The care exercised by Ezra in providing for the transportation and safety of the Lord’s treasure, teaches a lesson worthy of thoughtful study. Only those whose trustworthiness had been proved were chosen, and they were instructed plainly regarding the responsibility resting on them. In the appointment of faithful officers to act as treasurers of the Lord’s goods, Ezra recognized the necessity and value of order and organization in connection with the work of God. {PK 617.1}

Did you notice that the word of God was showing us that the minster has responsibility to be a steward? In turn the church he has a responsibility in identifying the talent and the gift of the Holy Spirit over the office of treasurer. There must be a choice of someone already proven to be trustworthy.

There is work of a superior order to be done. A clear understanding of business matters will qualify men to conduct business for the work and cause of God, to keep it upon a high and holy basis. The missionary work, in all its branches, needs wise, careful, judicious men, who have ability and experience to act in the capacity of treasurers–men who will prove trustworthy in bringing the truth before the men in the highways, and who will bring all the advantages of their experience, their soundness of principle, and their unbending integrity and uprightness into the work to which they are appointed. Faith unfeigned in its largeness and fullness is wanted just now.–Manuscript 97, 1898. {13MR 11.3}

Is the treasury and the ability of financial activity solely in the hands of merely a treasurer? This is to do with missionary work. Although we may have a person who conducts the books but as a missionary, the minister has also a financial responsibility. It is to have the qualification to conduct the business for the work and the cause of God to keep it on a high and holy basis. This is the reason why we as people who may be used in the Lord’s work in ministry must also be well equipped to understand financial matters.

-I was shown the great deficiency there is in keeping the accounts in the various departments of the cause. Bookkeeping is and ever will be an important part of our work, and those who have become intelligent in it are greatly needed in all our institutions. . . . This branch of the work has been neglected shamefully, and altogether too long. It is a shame to allow work of such magnitude to be done in a defective, bungling manner. God wants as perfect work as it is possible for human beings to do. . . . Bookkeeping is a subject that needs to be studied in order that it may be done with correctness and dispatch and without worry and taxation.–Lt 63, 1886. (Quoted in Ellen G. White in Europe 249.) {PaM 255.2}

It is necessary that the same order and system should be maintained in the church now as in the days of the apostles. The prosperity of the cause depends very largely upon its various departments being conducted by men of ability, who are qualified for their positions.–3SP 293. {PaM 255.3}

The person who handles the money and the person who has a spiritual responsibility over the money may not be just one person. It needs to be the spiritual leader in conjunction with the one who handles the books.

Amen.

Posted on October 21, 2011, in Missionary Studies, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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