8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,[b] 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me (2 Timothy 1:8-12, ESV).
Many times, we use the word ‘stewardship’ in , but 1 Timothy uses the word ‘stewardship’ to refer to a guarding of the gospel.
What are some substitutes:
- Assets. Many churches (even ours) have a Stewardship Team and a Board of Directors. The former seeks to help steward the finances of the church and the board of directors stewards the properties and legal documents of the church. None of these are problematic. What we must guard against is believing that the ideal stewardship is being to free or too strict with our assets to where the filter for moving forward is how these items are affected. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof”–and that means that the assets any church holds is His for the purpose of moving the Great Commandment and Great Commission forward.
- Numbers. By ‘numbers,’ I mean members and attendance. Anything that negatively affects this is discarded. If a proposal, whether biblical or practical (and, by the way, those are not mutually exclusive), may cause people (1) to be overly upset, or (2) cause members to leave, then the proposal is discarded. Granted, leaders must have wisdom in making and presenting such proposals, but the idolatry of numbers creeps into the thinking and ‘doing’ of a church that this becomes the end-all, be-all of church life.
- Reputation. A church in our area is dying. They have a beautiful piece of property, beautiful building, and about 20 people attending whose average age is around 75. Another church plant came along to propose they merge in order for more effectiveness in reaching South Denver for Jesus. Someone even proposed that, after the merger, they would change the name as a sign of restarting their mission. They older church voted no. “We are ______________________ Baptist Church, and that’s what we will stay.” Some are more in love with the reputation and history of the church than they are to Jesus.
Christ entrusted the deposit of the gospel to His church. Assets aren’t good in and of themselves, but entrusted to us in order to make the Great Commission and Great Commandment a reality.
God provides people not simply to fill our pews, but for investing and sending to their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.
God provides one sole reputation: loving God, loving neighbor, making disciples. For me, I can be so in love with all that is ARBC that, believe it or not, Jesus is not enough and is set off to the side.
What are some other things in our churches that we steward that are substitutes of the main stewardship of the gospel?