REPORT OF THE MODERATOR’S COMMITTEE ON STEWARDSHIP
To The General Synod, June 1-5, 1964
The report of Synod’s Board of Stewardship was the only paper to come into our hands. Our committee reviewed and approved this report, except that the following items on page 3 of the report were amended to read as follows:
Item 2, 4, at top of page 3 was amended to read “Engage in a thorough Stewardship program annually and give serious consideration to conducting an every member canvass.
Under the caption “It is further recommended that:,” the following amendments were made:
Item 1: ‘Every church be urged to send a representative,” etc.
Item 3: “That each Presbytery consider the advisability of having a Stewardship Workshop and urge the Finance Committee and others of each local church to attend.
Item 4: “The minister and Finance Committee chairman be urged to study and use,” etc.
Item 6. “The Synod reaffirms its adherence to the scriptural method,” etc.
Our committee recommends that the budget request of the Board of Stewardship be referred to the Finance Committee.
A copy of the amended “Report of Board of Stewardship” with the changes approved by this, the Committee on Stewardship, is appended hereto.
H. H. Long, Chairman,
Guy H. Smith, Jr., Secretary
REPORT OF BOARD OF STEWARDSHIP
To The General Synod, Due West, S. C. June 1-5, 1964
AN APPRAISAL OF THE SITUATION
Replies to a recent questionnaire have given valuable information in helping to evaluate the stewardship picture in our denomination, both from the standpoint of finances and in other respects. Some comments on this information follow. Two areas of the stewardship program will be considered: The organizational-educational and the spiritual.
Organizational-education: It is found that most churches do not bother to have a stewardship campaign. A. great majority of the churches feel that the adoption of a church budget is all that is necessary for a stewardship program. Quite often, these budgets represent little real thought or Christian imagination. Most frequently these are a hasty re-hash of the budget for the previous year. Often pledge cards are passed out which can be signed and turned in if the members of the church are disposed to do so, The people are asked to tithe.
A sermon or sermons on stewardship are generally preached; although many ministers get the feeling that such messages do not receive a sympathetic hearing. Most churches do not have a study course for the congregation on the subject of stewardship. It is evident that considerably more than half of the active members of the denomination did not receive one promotional pamphlet on the subject of stewardship last year. Little is being done throughout the church to encourage the children to know the meaning of Christian stewardship or to participate in this part of the church program.
There is strong evidence that the deacons, personally and as an organization, are not giving the caliber of leadership needed in the area of stewardship. Elders, generally, are brought into question at this same point, and ministers themselves sometimes admit their lack of force in relation to this emphasis. Few congregations had representatives at the Stewardship Conference last summer.
Most ministers feel that they are doing a reasonably good job on educating the people regarding the causes that are represented in Synod’s budget. But there is a strong desire to have more-and more imaginative-material on the subject (something more than a “percentage pie” or a table of figures). They want a budget clothed in flesh and pulsing with challenge.
It is evident that most churches are making a conscientious effort to get an accurate record on the number of tithers they have. Perhaps this is due to the good work of the Moderator of Synod on this subject. There is a small number of churches that do not keep an accurate record of individual giving. These churches are encouraged to be more systematic in their record keeping. Their present practice is both unscriptural and unbusinesslike.
Reports show that very few church officers receive any instruction whatsoever, beyond a few words at the time of their installation. To permit such gross ignorance to exist in the church leadership is not conducive to an aggressive church program, in respect to stewardship or any other place of responsibility. There is almost unanimous agreement that such a course is greatly needed.
Stewardship is a subject that necessitates continued educational effort. Little can be accomplished in one year or by one successful campaign; but consistent effort over the years will produce abundant fruit.
Spiritual: Most of those answering the questionnaire placed their fingers precisely on the source of our stewardship difficulties. They indicated that our real problem is a spiritual ill: “Lack of a sense of total commitment”; “Failure to realize the meaning of stewardship of life”; “Not enough tithers”; “Need more stress on benevolent giving”; “Need of spiritual life”; “Lack of consecration”; “Failure of people to accept the spiritual plan for giving.” This is the crux of the whole matter – a half-hearted commitment to Christ and an inadequate knowledge of His Word produces token givers. When one has had a personal encounter with Christ and understands His sacrifice in his behalf, then the love, gratitude, obedience and worship, in response, produce a generous heart. The total commitment of life to Christ must be an unceasing emphasis for the sake of personal joy and liberality. This message must be so clear and so strong that “wayfaring men though fool should not err therein.”
Most churches reporting indicated they were giving 20% or more to benevolences outside their congregations. Some churches requested a reconsideration of the 20% for Synod’s benevolence regulation. Through various contacts with other Presbyterian bodies it is leaned that our churches do not give nearly as much to benevolences as other Presbyterian congregations do. (One Presbyterian church of 500 members-not a particularly outstanding church-gives more than twice as much to benevolences as our largest contributor to Synod’s budget.
The laymen of the denomination are lauded for their emerging role of leadership in the church. Their gift of time and talent is commended. It is hoped that the limited number of laymen who unselfishly serve at the Synod level will be able to fire the imagination of the whole host of local leaders to the realization of the meaning of the stewardship life. A 100% cooperation is needed from all local leaders in a commitment program which starts with the heart of man and reaches out to all of his resources. A continuing program of stewardship education is needed. A thorough and detailed plan of budget-making, promotional work, personal contact, business procedure m record keeping and follow-up are essential to success. The lay leaders are the only persons who can put across such a program. The well-being of the entire church, local program and benevolent causes is dependent upon the acceptance of this challenge. The Scripture furnishes a guide and the Holy Spirit the enabling power. ‘Rise up, O men of God.”
1. Ministers are urged to assume a stronger role of leadership in the emphasis on stewardsh4p, especially in the area of spiritual instruction and counseling. This may be accomplished in the following ways:
a. The minister (and Sabbath School teachers) should stress the fact that our relationship to Christ is one of total commitment. Adequate interpretation should be given this truth.
b. The minister should give thorough instruction to all newly-elected officers regarding all matters related to their office and personal life.
c. The minister is challenged to use the stewardship material he has in his hands or helps available in assisting his officers to plan a thorough stewardship program.
d. Ministers should provide continuous encouragement and leadership in the program of stewardship education, For an adequate promotion of an emphasis on the stewardship of life, this is essential.
2. Officers are challenged to:
a. Search their hearts before God in relation to their personal Stewardship commitment
b. Share with others the blessings of salvation.
c. Recognize that the elders and the deacons must work together in any effective stewardship program in the local church.
d. Engage in a thorough stewardship program and give serious consideration to conducting an every-member canvass (more than 67% of the reporting churches had no every-member canvass for 1964).
e. Assist your pastor in setting up an officers’ training course in your church.
f. Have a re-study of the nature and mission of the church so that a more benevolent attitude may be developed.
g. Be represented at the Synod Stewardship Conference at Bonclarken during Laymen’s Weekend, August 7-9, 1964.
It is further recommended that:
1. Every church be urged to send a representative to the Stewardship Conference at Bonclarken during Laymen’s Weekend, August 7-9, 1964. Dr. George Long, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church Tupelo, Mississippi, will direct this emphasis. Dr. Long has served in various capacities at Synod and Presbytery levels in Presbyterian U. S. stewardship work. Mr. John Welford an outstanding layman of a Presbyterian Church in Memphis, will be one of the speakers. Reverend Baron B. Nowak is in charge of this conference.
2. Stewardship season begin with the Stewardship Conference at Bonclarken and run until Thanksgiving. Thorough study, planning, organization, promotion and commitment efforts are urged.
3. Each Presbytery consider the advisability of having a Stewardship Workshop and urge the Finance Committee and others of each local church to attend.
4. The minister and finance chairman be urged to study and use the folder of stewardship material that, again, will be sent out by the Presbyterian Church, U. S., at our request.
5. The study book for the congregational emphasis on stewardship this year be “Stewardship Unlimited,” the same book being used by the women.
6. The Synod reaffirm its adherence to the Scriptural method and express its opposition to all sorts of money-making schemes, such as rummage sales suppers and anything that smacks of the bazaar.
The Budget asking for this Board for 1965 is as follows:
|For conference and workshop expense||$300|
|Stewardship material folder||100|
|Materials and film strip||50|
The officers of the Board of Stewardship are:
W. P. Grier, chairman, A. R. Presbyterian Church, Mooresville, N. C.; J. B. Hendrick, vice-chairman, P. 0. Box 475, York, S. C.; and Mrs. R. Y. Williams, secretary-treasurer, 640 Meadowbrook Lane, Rock Hill, S. C. The other members are: F. R. Cates, Mrs. J. D. Chesnut, Mrs. Marvin W. Clemons, Baron R. Nowak and P. L. Wilson, Jr.
Baron R. Nowak, Secretary (1964)