n the previous quinquennium the Stewardship Ministries Department focused on stewardship education in the world field. The message was and still is: wholistic stewardship, the total response of the heart to God. Our 2015 report is that we are closer!
“Closer” is an important consideration at every General Conference session. We are closer to the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and closer to our ministry goals. We believe that stewardship is a function of spirituality and value transformation. Faithful stewards earnestly work toward and look forward to Jesus’ soon return. Bringing stewardship closer to all our members and helping them experience a closer relationship with God is, therefore, an integral part of our mission and ministry around the world.
The challenges we faced in 2010 were: the high turnover of stewardship leaders at all levels of the organization; and the apparent disconnect between stewardship and the education our future pastors receive at our institutions of theological training. We have good news in these respects, and some innovations to share:
An important action taken in Atlanta in 2010, to amend the department’s name to Stewardship Ministries, serves the global agenda and the broader approach of the department in significant ways. Apart from new graphic designs, symbols, and slogans, the name change serves to put the wholistic message on the global map securely in the context of ministry—bringing people closer to Jesus and His rule in our lives in the present. Our motto is: “My All in Response to God’s All!”
Advances in Stewardship Education
At the 2010 Annual Council the General Conference Executive Committee provided additional funding that allows for an additional field trainer in the department, i.e., one more associate director. This effectively increased the training capacity of the department by a third. This capacity has been served to the full as travel to, and training in, the world field has reached a record amount of countries—serving all levels and institutions of the church organization in all 13 divisions, with advisories, consultations, summits, congresses, conferences, revival and camp meetings, and evangelistic campaigns.
The Executive Committee also took an action to encourage local conferences to appoint a dedicated director position for stewardship ministries. The world field has responded well to this request, and this strong statement by the church has risen to all levels as they supply financial and human resources to support the decision. The significance of this increase in commitment to the stewardship ministries portfolio is that more personnel are available to conduct more training events in wholistic stewardship around the world.
Our future pastors need to be fully informed and equipped in this important ministry and core belief of the Adventist Church. In this quinquennium GC Stewardship Ministries’ leaders have provided training and support to many of our Adventist tertiary institutions and graduate schools. At the Adventist University of Africa in Kenya, materials produced by the department have been incorporated into their Master of Business Administration curriculum, which includes teaching a class on the biblical principles of stewardship.
Bringing Stewardship Ministries closer to every Adventist member is particularly evident in the resource development opportunities taken during the past five years. Strides have been made in the use of both technology and traditional means to minister to the world field.
An updated Web site aimed at both educators and members, together with social media platforms engaging leaders and the general public with the message of “Jesus as Lord of all,” have brought inspiration and available resources closer to our members worldwide.
In September 2014 an online conference with 24 training seminars by 15 experts, which was streamed online in four languages and recorded for future use online or on television, received 5,000 log-ons and reached 83 countries. This was a “first” by the General Conference from its headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. Ten spots for television are currently aired on the Hope Channel and available for playing in churches.
The quarterly journal Dynamic Steward continues to increase its coverage to more Adventist institutions and other Christian organizations, and is accessible globally on online platforms. Several divisions are translating it into local languages.
Along with books and promotional items, as well as educational devices for children, the educational efforts in the field are well supported by the department’s resources.
As a wholistic message, stewardship is part of every other department’s message and ministry, and collaboration with other ministries and departments improves our reach. Departments in which this mutually beneficial collaboration has benefited the world field include Planned Giving and Trust Services, Communication, Children’s Ministries, and Adventist Mission.
Gratitude for Giving Trends
Giving to the church in both tithe and mission offerings has reached higher levels than before in recent history. Ten out of 13 divisions are on the Combined Offering Plan.
The management of personal material resources is a clear indicator of how we as individuals understand the rule of Jesus in our lives. Jesus is the Creator and Owner of all. As His stewards, all that we receive from Him is to be considered as gifts to be managed on His behalf.
According to treasury reports and giving trends within the denomination, it appears that the wholistic message of stewardship is “hitting home” closer than before. We praise the Lord for that.
It is appropriate to express our gratitude, on behalf of the General Conference, to the world field and all our members for their faithfulness in the giving of their hearts, efforts, and resources to the Lord’s work and supporting the mission of the worldwide Adventist Church. Thank you for your help in bringing His coming closer!
Engaging our Adventist young people is an important research project that Stewardship Ministries has initiated during this quinquennium. Thirty-one focus groups have been held with youth in 16 countries to gauge their understanding of, and commitment to, the church as faithful stewards. The positive response and interest from young people has been overwhelming; they want to be part of the action. The plan forward is for the creation and training of intergenerational teams at conference level to provide stewardship training for local churches. This initiative is an important ministry tool and process in nurture and retention, bringing youth closer to the Lord and keeping them close to the mission of the church.
Involving the world field and engaging all ages as faithful stewards of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through technology in the form of a whole-life management mobile app is also in development.
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11).