Learning stewardship through discipleship

by C. Walter Overman
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | 8 yrs old

Although Neal Eller has been a Christian for nearly 50 years he never fully appreciated the true sense of biblical stewardship until nearly a decade ago, when he realized the radical nature of giving and sacrifice that is expressed through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Christ did an amazing transformation in my heart,” Eller said. “I’ve never experienced the spiritual growth that I’ve experienced over the last few years.

During a break out session at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) annual meeting Eller, who serves as BSCNC church health team leader, shared how God transformed his heart in the area of financial stewardship. During the session Eller taught that individual believers and churches can experience that same transformation.

Next year, stewardship will become an area of emphasis for the church health team, as too many churches are failing to teach believers about stewardship.

“If your church only speaks about stewardship once or twice a year you are sending the wrong message to your people,” Eller said. “Your church needs to adopt a discipleship approach to stewardship.”

By a discipleship approach, Eller means that churches must rediscover the meaning of the Great Commandment and teach what it means to love God and others above self.    

“Much of American Christianity believes that we have to preserve our wealth in order to meet our needs and that being generous is a matter of having enough money first,” he said.

Instead, Eller believes that when Christians learn to give out of a deep love for God and fellow man they will discover a new level of spiritual growth. The path to change is to understand stewardship as a biblical and spiritual issue.

Eller said Christians who believe the Bible is authoritative for all areas of life should live by the Bible’s standards of generosity and sacrificial giving.

“We have not come to terms with the Bible’s teaching on money because we want to pick and choose what we want to believe,” he said. “We say we value the Kingdom of God and missions, but in reality we like to spend more money on ourselves than on missions while our community around us is dying and going to hell.”

As a spiritual issue, a fundamental connection exists between the spiritual lives of Christians and how they handle money. Spirit-filled Christians are compelled to recognize that everything they have belongs to God.  

“How we handle money is an indicator of our idols and a measure of our love for Jesus and our love for others,” Eller said. “As Christ-followers we have to live life with hands wide open, not only to God, but to others.”

For more information about biblical stewardship, contact Eller at neller@ncbaptist.org.