Summer 2012 Newsletter

Summer 2012 Newsletter

CHARITABLE GIFT ANNUITIES NOW AVAILABLE

A charitable gift annuity (CGA), administered by Hope, enables you to make a substantial gift to your church, favorite ministry or to your donor advised fund at Hope and receive guaranteed income from those assets for yourself or a beneficiary that you name as long as you and/or the beneficiary lives.

This is one way to put your treasure where your heart is — in your church or favorite ministry — and still take care of your needs and those of your family. A CGA is a contract between you and Hope Christian Community Foundation, which guarantees a fixed amount of income for life. You can fund your annuity with cash or marketable securities.

How It Works

  • You receive an income tax deduction in the year that you establish the annuity for the gift portion of the contract
  • You may witness the impact of your gift while you receive lifetime income
  • You receive a guaranteed periodic income that is not affected by the fluctuations of the marketplace. A portion of your annuity income is tax free
  • You are free from concern about money management and low interest rates

Features: The minimum amount required to establish a charitable gift annuity is $25,000. The minimum age is 65. The annuity rate depends upon whether one or two people will receive lifetime income from the gift and the age of the recipient(s). You cannot add to a charitable gift annuity, but you can establish additional annuity agreements. One key feature of a Hope CGA directed to benefit your donor advised fund is the opportunity to donate to multiple organizations rather than just one.

An Example: Sara, age 75, has considerable savings. She seeks to increase her income, reduce taxes and do something substantial for her church’s endowment program. After discussion with a representative of her church and her own financial advisor, she decides to make a cash gift of $100,000. In exchange, she will receive $5,800 per year. Her advantages are multiple: She guarantees income, generally larger than a savings account, for the rest of her life. She receives a one time tax deduction of the gift portion of the annuity. A significant portion of income is free from taxes. Her church will receive a significant gift.

To view more examples and learn more about charitable gift annuities from the Hope Christian Community Foundation please visit: http://hopememphis.givingplan.net/ or call us at 901.682.6201.

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WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO THIS WORD?

[This message was originally tailored for Pastors]

If word-abuse was a crime, many pastors/ministers would be in jail over how they have abused one of our most important, biblical terms – the wordstewardship. If you were to poll your congregation and ask them what the word stewardship means, I suspect that if your church is like most, the overwhelming majority of them would tell you it has something to do with money and giving. Part right and part wrong. And as my grandmother would tell me, “If something is partially wrong, it is all wrong.”

I spent eight years of my life in Bible college and seminary and majored in theology. I can tell you that in all those years, I never took one class or even had one lecture on the theology of stewardship. So, everything I share with you I have learned since those days long past. Since very few institutions of higher learning include this topic in their curriculum, the overwhelming majority of pastors/ministers have either no stewardship theology or worse yet, a bad stewardship theology. Consequently, it is really no surprise that our churches are at best theologically adrift in this area of stewardship and at worst being falsely taught.

Let me give you a few examples of how the word stewardship is being abused in many churches. Church bulletins and newsletters often have a stewardship report. Of course, it always includes the amount of the offerings. Churches have fund-raisers/capital campaigns, but often refer to them as stewardship campaigns. A stewardship campaign sounds much more spiritual, don’t you think? We use the term “good stewards” to refer to people who are “good givers.” We teach that tithing will make a person a good steward. Many larger churches now have stewardship pastors who are really financial pastors. I could go on, but I think you see my point.

Many churches use the word stewardship as if it is a synonym for giving. But let me suggest that stewardship is not a synonym for giving. It is actually an antonym (opposite meaning). Let me explain. Giving has to do with what we deployStewardship has to do with what we retain. Stewardship is not about what we put in the offering when we go to church; it is about what we do with what is left in our check book after we have done our giving. Stewardship is about what we are keeping.

So, what exactly does the word stewardship mean? Let me explain stewardship as if it were a three legged stool and all three legs are essential for the stewardship stool to properly stand.

Leg #1: The first “leg” of this stool is the fact that God owns everything because He created everything. For example, King David tells us in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” I think that about covers everything we will ever get our hands on in this life.

Leg #2: The second “leg” of this stool is the fact that not only did God create us, but He also redeemed us from slavery to the prince of this world through the death of His son, Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in Titus 2:13b-14, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” We now belong to Him again. So, God actually owns us twice: Once because He made us and twice because He bought us back.

Leg #3: The final “leg,” the one that enables the stool to stand, is the fact that we own nothing: We have been called by God to be stewards, to carry out His wishes for His property.

So, Stewardship accurately defined is: (v) “to plan, to manage, to administer;” (n) “a manager.” The concept of stewardship repositions us from being the owner to being merely a manager of a very small portion of the Owner’s vast material holdings. For many believers this idea is a revolutionary concept.

One Sunday I was preaching at a church that had just completed taking their entire congregation through our thirteen-week life stewardship, small-group study. Prior to the start of the service a distinguished, older gentleman came up to me, shook my hand and said, “Jay, the one thing in your study that has had the single greatest impact on me was this idea that God owns everything, including me.” He went on to say, “I have been in the church all my life, but somehow this truth had escaped me entirely.”  He confessed, “I thought I was the one getting up each day and going to work and I was the one making the money. It wasmine. But when I came to understand that God owns me and everything I have, it has changed everything in my life!”

I hear this kind of comment routinely from believers once they are finally presented with the true, biblical, stewardship message. The truth be known, it likely wasn’t that this gentleman missed the stewardship teaching in his church, it is more likely that his church had never preached or taught on it before. This radical, biblical concept of life stewardship is easy enough to understand intellectually, if and when we finally do hear it. It is, I will confess, exceedingly difficult to consistently apply and live out practically speaking.

This “we are only the managers and not the owners” mindset forces us to ask one, critical question. And it demands that we ask it on a daily basis. The life-transforming question is this, “Lord, what do You want me to do with all that You have entrusted to me?”

It is no longer “How do I want to spend my day?” “It is now, God, how do you want me to spend Your day?”

It is no longer, “How do I want to spend my money?” It is now, “God, how do

you want me to spend Your money?”

It is no longer, “How much of my money do I want to give to the Lord?” It is now, “God, how much of Your money should I be keeping for myself?”

It is no longer, “How do I want to care for and feed my body?” It is now, “God, how do You want me to care for and feed Your body?”

It is no longer, “How do I want to raise my children?” It is now, “God, how do You want me to raise Your children?”

It is no longer, “What kind of house and car do I want to have?” It is now, “God, what kind of house and car do You want me to have?”

Do you see how this owner/manager issue impacts every single area of our lives?

Let me offer you a personal challenge. For the next 30 days as soon as you wake up in the morning, even before you put your feet on the floor, ask God this one question, “God, what do You want me to do today with all You have entrusted to me?”  I am quite confident that if you start asking this one, prayerful question on a daily basis, it will change everything in your life just as it has in mine.

Can you see how if this life stewardship message were to be powerfully, effectively and boldly communicated to your congregation on a consistent basis, it has the potential to radically change the culture of your entire church? Can you imagine what your church would look like if everyone from the youngest children to your most senior members were to begin living each day of their lives asking this one, life-changing, stewardship question and were humbly and earnestly seeking to carry out the wishes of their Owner on a daily basis?

What would happen to their marriages, to their families, to their finances, to the number of volunteers, to their physical health, to the amount of their giving and to the impact and outreach of the church? This one word STEWARDSHIP has the power to change everything!

But let me be quite clear here. This stewardship message will never impact your people and the culture of the church if it doesn’t start with you. You must first personally embrace and adopt a stewardship lifestyle. In other words, you need to first practice it before you preach it. The impact of this life stewardship message all rises and falls with you.

Many people over the years have suggested that I abandon using the term stewardship because it is so badly used and carries such negative baggage in churches and among Christians. But there are

some things in life worth fighting for. And for me, the word stewardship is so profoundly important that it is worth trying to rescue from the mire of misuse, abuse and negativity – restoring it to its proper place of honor and respect with the other great theological concepts we so fiercely defend.  It is a word that has the power to transform believers, to transform churches and yes, to even transform pastors.

Every sermon you preach and every lesson you teach should be grounded in and built upon this foundational truth that God is the Owner and we are His stewards.  Remember, God has graciously entrusted the care and feeding of His church to you. Let me exhort you, steward it well!

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© 2012 Stewardship Ministries | All Rights Reserved.

E.G. “Jay” Link, is the President of Stewardship Ministries, a teaching, training and mentoring ministry for professional advisors and ministry leaders to equip them to effectively serve believers who have accumulated surplus, material possessions.