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'The Treasure Chest'



When the issue of "ownership" and "owership" gets settled properly, the churches and believers have a good chance to achieve a stewardship breakthrough.

Resources: LLM Archives
For nearly a century, Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship assisted, inspired and trained congregations in important ways. LLM ceased operations on May 31, 2003, but the Stewardship of Life Institute is proud to continue its work by making its web resources available to a new generation of stewards.

Church and Money
By The Rev. Glen Holmquist

It was a small-group session for congregations in the district. This one was called "Making Stewardship Alive and Vital in Your Congregation."

I was the teacher. I developed a presentation that centered on leadership and tithing.

After 25 years of being in touch with the drama of corporate and personal stewardship, it continues to be the "toughest teach" I have encountered. It is a narrow band of stewardship - on two slim strands. One strand is the church and the other is money.

Money and the church - now that should be a happy marriage without complication. The church asks the people for some of their money and then uses it wisely to teach and tell the good news of Jesus Christ! That process ought to produce a happy scene of joy and helpful service. I am convinced that it could and should be so. The solution is simple. The application and implementation is the roadblock. I believe it to be a "faithblock." Here and there I have witnessed evidence of breakthroughs and acceptance of the solution. But they are few and far between.

The solution is for individuals to tithe from the top of their incomes and for congregations to write their mission check first every week.

Pastors need to give strong leadership to promote both actions to the flock they shepherd. Lay persons of dedicated commitment need to be tithers. They must come to see the wisdom of doing their mission duty as a key to congregational growth and strength.

I have long believed that when the issue of "ownership" and "owership" gets settled properly, the churches and believers have a good chance to achieve breakthrough.

Back to the meeting. As it was winding down, a well-meaning layman arose to speak. "I have worked in stewardship in our church for seven years. We feel the tithe is unrealistic for us. We work the time and talent side of stewardship. We believe the money will follow when people get involved."

It was a statement I had heard hundreds of times before. I have never agreed with it. I call it the path of least resistance. It does not build stewards.

Certainly we need to encourage the giving of time and talent, but when service becomes a substitute for the tithe, then we are doing a disservice to people who need victory in their lives. Begin to tithe and the committed involvement will follow.

Pray for the courage to begin to tithe. Give it first - from the top of your income. Keep praying for the power to persist in the adventure. The Lord will bless you. His promises are irrevocable. You will be blessed to be a blessing. Hang on to Malachi 3:10 -- "Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing."

Helen Keller said this: "Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing." Tithing is a daring adventure. And the Lord guarantees you will emerge victorious.


The Rev. Glen Holmquist retired after serving for 12 years as Assistant to the Bishop, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Synod of the Lutheran Church in America, and 10 years on the regional stewardship staff of the LCA. He wrote this for  Faith in Action.