Terry Oliver, Stewardship Consultant, ABC-NW
“Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” (2 Cor. 9:6)
Those of us who enjoy working in our gardens in these spring days know the delight of finding some “volunteer plants” coming up from last year’s crops. They seem to grow on their own from some roots or seeds that were buried in the ground and survived the winter. And yet none of us would dare to think that those volunteer potatoes, onions, or squash would provide a sufficient crop for the needs of this year’s harvest! Rather, we go back to work on the garden bed, pulling weeds, tilling the soil, and planting new seeds, bulbs, or vegetable starts. We are preparing for another summer of watering, feeding, and weeding our gardens so they produce the bountiful crops in the fall we so enjoy!
Growing generosity in the hearts and lives of people in our congregations has a lot in common with gardening. It is always a joy to have people “on their own” respond to the grace of God in their lives with expressions of giving. We often rely on stewardship education from the past to build faithful giving habits in the lives of our people. However, the results in terms of the “harvest” are often way less than needed to fund our vision and the ministries that are important to fulfill that vision.
How much better to go to work in the gardens of grace of our congregations, and prepare the soil, pull the weeds, and plant the promises of God’s provision in an intentional way that facilitate the harvest we need to do God’s work. More specifically, spring is a great time to plan for things we would like to do this coming fall to teach, witness, model, and invite people to step into the value system of God’s Kingdom, of which generosity is a central value. Just as August and September are too late to plant your backyard garden, it is also late for stewardship planning.
If you would like fresh ideas to build conversations about growing generosity into the culture of your congregation this fall, please feel free to contact me, and I’d be happy to help you address that conversation. Remember always, “God is faithful!”
Pastor Terry Oliver, 253-732-1869, firstname.lastname@example.org