My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
"A steward is one who manages another's property or resources; the Christian, therefore, is a steward of everything he is and has, including, his own body and soul, for according to the mystery of salvation, we possess nothing from ourselves, not even our own life and being; all belongs to God and is given to us by the Father through His Son because of the richness of His love and mercy."
Stewardship Ministry: Introduction and Definition
"Stewardship is the offering to God as children of faith rather than as hired servants. Children of God make offerings to God as expression of authentic love, whereas hired servants simply fulfill legalistic duty. Christian stewardship is a manifestation of our love for God through the holistic offering of time, talent, and treasure to Him, through Christ's Holy church. By this offering of love to our Father in heaven, He further extends the healing experience of His Church to His children, through Her ministry." (Father Luke Palumbis St. Basil the Great Church, Houston, TX)
Effective stewardship ministry is not a single event or project. Rather, it is going out to our people wherever they are in their walk with Christ, listening to their concerns, helping them to realize their importance as branches of the True Vine and encouraging them to offer their gifts in His service...
Defining Orthodox Christian Stewardship
In Oriental Leadership, their book on Orthodox Christian leadership, Williams and McKibben define stewardship as the call of the faithful to share willingly the gifts that God has bestowed on them, including sharing these gifts of God's work. Stewardship is devotion and service to God and His Church as persons, as families, as a Parish, as a Metropolis, as a National Church, and as the Church Universal. Stewardship is our active commitment to use. All our time, talent and treasure for the benefit of mankind is grateful acknowledgment of Christ's redeeming love.
Stewardship is caring for the needs of others. Stewardship is offering one's self to God as He offered Himself to us. Stewardship is what a person does after saying "I believe..." as proof of that belief.
Stewardship and the Steward
Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a way of life that acknowledges our responsibility before God. A primary goal of Stewardship is to promote our spiritual growth and strengthen our faith. We become Stewards when we believe in God and begin to act on our beliefs. As Orthodox Christians, we affirm that every aspect of our lives comes as a gift from Him. By our faith, we are called to cheerfully offer back to God a portion of the gifts with which we have been blessed.
Parish leaders are called to lead the people to a new way of seeing things--a new way of life--with words that echo the greatest commandment to "love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and strength," calling others to commit their lives to Jesus Christ in such a way that leads to the joy of knowing Him personally and profoundly.
An Orthodox Christian Steward is an active participant in the life of the Church. The parish encourages all who accept the Orthodox Christian Faith to become practicing stewards. Each year the Steward is expected to carefully review his or her personal circumstances and make a commitment of time, talent, and treasure to support the Parish and her Ministries, which in turn support the National Ministries of our Archdiocese, Metropolises, Theological School and related institutions.
Parish Stewardship Program Year-Round Effort
Through creative understanding of the specific make-up of the parish, the Parish Stewardship Team should tailor the Parish Stewardship Program to have the greatest impact on as many parishioners as possible. Stewardship goes hand-in-hand with outreach as we engage new and existing members into the life of the parish. It is also critical that we continue to strengthen the connection of existing members of the parish. As people feel more connected to the parish, they also want to offer their time, talent and treasure in support of her ministries.
Though many parishes designate one month as stewardship month, the parish Stewardship Committee, in consultation with the parish priest should plan a year-round calendar for Stewardship Ministry. Awareness and understanding of the importance of all ages sharing the importance of the Church in their lives, Sunday bulletins, newsletters, Stewardship literature, Stewardship PowerPoint presentations, slide show or videos of parish life, community luncheons and much more.
Stewardship and Budget
A successful Orthodox Christian Stewardship Program should provide for the entire Parish Ministries and Operating Budget as well as the growth of those ministries. The parish, in time, will not find it necessary to depend on festivals and other events to meet its financial responsibilities. When a parish first enters into the Orthodox Christian Stewardship Program, proceeds from such events supplement effort and a positive attitude, Stewardship revenues should completely support and provide total coverage and even allow for growth of the budget. Once this has been achieved, festivals and other events may be seen as community events and outreach opportunities, with proceeds going to capital improvements and/or the philanthropic work of the Church. (Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom