Stewardship is commitment
Hey there church! Today in worship we're celebrating commitment Sunday! Commitment Sunday is an exciting time of the church where we lift up our gifts in the form of talents, time, and treasure to the glory and honor of all that God will do through us for the benefit of others in 2022. So, come with your physical pledge cards that were mailed to you or submit a digital pledge card by clicking the button below. Don't worry if you don't get it in on time. It's never too late for a new beginning when it comes to our God. The message that will be shared in service today focuses on expressing gratitude for one another and identifying the people in our lives that were "stewards" of us while simultaneously challenging us to be stewards for future generations. I hope you'll join us. In fact, you can watch it from within this blog by clicking the video below :)
Today's blog post will look at some of the scriptural examples of stewardship and tithing to show you what the tithe was traditionally used for and how we continue to honor that tradition today. With that said, let's get reading!
Scripture to Read
Introduction of the Tithe
How the Tithes were used
Numbers 18:21 (Priests/Pastors "Salary")
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (Festivals and welfare)
Tithing is More than Money
I know I gave you a lot to consider here so we'll walk through each part. The tithe was introduced at the initial covenant that God with Abram and extended to Moses and the rest of the patriarchs. The one you read from in Genesis is Jacob (father of Joseph.) By extension that same covenant of "God will be our God and we will be God's people" has continued to this day. As such, we should continue to offer up ourselves and our resources to God's kingdom building efforts. Much like in a marriage vow to commitment our resources and ourselves to one another the same is expected for our relationship with God.
Leviticus is when the tithe is formally made into a law and extended to all people - not just the leaders.
But what were the tithes used for? That's a somewhat tricky answer because tithing looking different from then as it does today. Most of the tithes were food or grains and not actually money. So part of those grains were burnt at the altar for worship/sacrifice. Part of those grains were set aside for the priests as a form of "salary." You fed the priest so that they could always be present in the temple rather than having to tend to a farm. You read that in Numbers. About 23% of the tithe was set aside for "savings" so to speak. The difference here is that these savings were not squirreled away forever as a rainy day fund - they were more like a time capsule with specific instructions of how they would be used. Part of these savings paid for the festivals that the 'church' would throw. You can think of this as similar to our fellowship events and meals. Every 3 years the vaults would be opened to help out the poor, the widows, and the marginalized. Every 50 years the debts of all the people would be paid off using the savings from the church and then it would all start over again.
This is exciting stuff! Biblically speaking, when you gave you knew that it was going towards a great cause that would not only benefit you in the long run but benefit all of society. That's the same principle that we try our best to emulate albeit our numbers aren't quite the same. Approximately 10% of our income goes to our team ministries while the remaining 90% goes to salaries and building upkeep. 3% of our annual budget is always set aside for outreach and missional work. This past year this included $700 checks to 5 relief organizations, the purchase of a dryer and bedding for Nehemiah Mission, and our mission Guatemala projects, among many more. Around 1% of our budget goes to fellowship to provide supplies for our meals. Most of the meals are cooked and donated by church members.
Could you imagine if churches today continued the practice of debt forgiveness for its community? How radically could we change the economy of our world and the economy of individual homes. While that might not be possible we do strive to make life changing waves in our community giving glimpses of God's kingdom to all who peer through our windows.
When you give to church today for commitment Sunday you are adding your blessings to the communal pot of ministry. God uses all things for good - so whatever you can offer - large or small - God will do amazing things with. Much like Jesus teaches with the mustard seed, the smallest of things are God's biggest miracles. May it be so. Amen.
Praying the Hymns
I think this Gospel Hymns captures the essence of what I'm trying to say for this Commitment Sunday. I'm Gonna Live so God Can Use Me. As you boogie in your homes to this song may you dance to God's glory as you take part in the renewal of our church in 2022.
1 I'm gonna live so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime! I'm gonna live so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime!
2 I'm gonna work so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime! I'm gonna work so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime!
3 I'm gonna talk so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime! I'm gonna talk so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime!