“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.“
1 Peter 4:10
The Finance Committee and the Session have been thoughtfully considering the church’s budget for a few weeks now. Budgets help to assess two very important factors of life: 1) they help us to realize the cost of things and 2) they help us to evaluate their value. When I am reconciling my own personal budget these days, I am often surprised by the impact of inflation. Things just cost more these days. That creates challenges for many of us, but it also comes with a blessing.
When the cost of something increases, it encourages a reassessment of its value. God has allotted me a certain amount of material resources, and I have to make choices in how I will use them. That means I have to establish the value of things. Our recent Adult Education study gave me a simple metric for judging the value of an investment: how and in what ways does this thing that I put my resources into affect my neighbor? As a result, when I eat out, I tend to choose a local business. When I purchase an appliance for my home, I look for the most environmentally friendly option. When shopping for presents I love it when I can find something that supports an artist directly. It’s not always possible to make sure my expenditures are beneficial in these ways, but I try my best.
Being a member of a church requires that we share in its costs. That means that each of us have to assess the value we see in the church as we consider how we will delegate our resources to it. This is not just a question of finances alone—time is also one of the costs of church membership. Where will we invest that resource? What meetings or gatherings we will go to, what tasks we will take on, and what projects we will commit ourselves to? Time holds even more value than money. Therefore, we must think well about the value of the things we give our time and attention to as well as our money.
When you consider your annual pledge of time, talents and treasure, what questions do you ask yourself about values? Does St. Andrew’s support our neighbors in need? Do we reach out into the community sharing the gospel of love? Are lives changed at our church? Is hope found in our fellowship? If the answer is “yes, the church does all these things” or even, “yes, I believe the church has the capacity for these things,” then I would argue it is a faithful act of stewardship to support it robustly, as 1 Peter 4:10 states, “with whatever gift each of you has received.”