Stewardship

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And even if a person should possess the complete treasures of the King, he should hide them and say continually: “The treasure is not mine, but another has given it to me for a charge. For I am a beggar and when it pleases Him, He can claim it from me.” +St. Macarios

Testimonial: Leftovers

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One year my family was given a special collection box to take home, fill with donations, and return to our church a few months later for a worthy Orthodox Christian cause. I loved the idea! My mind immediately focused on all the spare change we had accumulated—in the cup holder of the car, the bedside table, the couch cushions. If I would place this change in the box, I would not only be giving to a worthy cause, but I would be getting rid of the nuisance of having to figure out what to do with this change. I could solve two problems at once!

Little did I know, this box was about to transform the way I think about giving. Along with the box, we were given one last instruction, to please approach our collection as giving something up for Christ. We were challenged to consider giving in a spirit of sacrifice, rather than simply giving our leftovers. I realized then and there that I could–and should–give much more that I had initially thought to give. In fact, I realized this was true not just for the special collection box, but in all aspects of my giving to Christ and the Church.

After that day, we tried to treat the collection box almost like lighting a candle in church. Rather than only putting in spare change, we consciously tried to put in bills on a regular basis and say a prayer as we did so. The little lesson of the collection box stays with me to this day and stops me as I reach into my pocket to give: am I willing to sacrifice or just offer what I don’t need, my leftovers?

We are grateful to our readers who have offered to share their giving story with us, so that their testimony may inspire others. Read more on our Testimonials tab. We invite you to share your story, as well! Email us at info@everygoodandperfectgift.org or visit Share Your Story.

 

 

 

New Study on Orthodox Christian Giving

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The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America recently announced the release a new study, “Exploring Orthodox Generosity: Giving in US Orthodox Parishes.” The 138-page report is accompanied by a brief summary that shares the highlights of the study. The study was prepared by the Assembly’s research coordinator, Alexei Krindatch (find the entire announcement on the Assembly’s website).

Highlights from the study include:

  • In 2014, a typical (median) Orthodox household gave $2000 to its local parish community in regular giving. That is, half of all Orthodox households gave more than $2000 per year and half of them gave less than that to their parishes.
  • The degree of involvement with a parish is a very strong predictor of how much people give to their churches.
  • Personal beliefs and personal theology have a very strong impact on how much a Church member gives to his/her parish. Church members who state that “using the money and material possessions in ways that please God” is part of their spiritual life give on average 2.5 times more to their parish communities than persons who hold the view that “money and material possessions have nothing to do with spiritual and religious issues;”
  • Parishes that encourage members to be more generous because it will enhance church’s mission and create more opportunities for spiritual growth receive MUCH HIGHER contributions from parishioners than the parishes asking members to give because various needs of a parish community should be addressed.
  • [T]he top three methods that an Orthodox parish can employ in order to inspire parishioners to give more are: a) greater social outreach into local community, b) stronger emphasis on mission and evangelism programs, and c) creating joint programs and ministries with other nearby Orthodox parishes.

 

The Multiplying Our Gifts Challenge

A case study of a parish giving program

Fr. P. has done a lot of thinking, reading, and praying on the subject of stewardship. At the small, urban parish to which he had been recently assigned, finances were said to be a constant challenge. The giving paradigm long in place was membership dues with several fundraisers throughout the year to fill in the budget gaps. The overwhelming perception at the parish was that there was never enough money, and no more could be raised in the small community.   Read More →

The Cheerful Giver

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BRETHREN, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 9:6-11, the Epistle Reading on the 2nd Sunday of Luke.

2016 Stewardship Resources

The Stewardship Resources produced by Stewardship Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese are now online! The 2016 theme is taken from Psalm 34, used in the final hymn of the Service of Artoclasia, blessing of the five loaves:

Rich men have turned poor and gone hungry; but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good thing.

The Blessing of Five Loaves of Bread is a brief service of thanksgiving through which we express our gratitude for all the blessings of life. Oil, wine, wheat, and the loaves of bread which are used in the service, are viewed as the most basic elements necessary for life. The Blessing reminds us of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish by which Christ fed the multitude. This Blessing is usually offered during Vespers or after the Divine Liturgy on Feast days and other special occasions. After the Service, the bread is cut and distributed to the congregation (from Introduction: What is the Greek Orthodox Church? at goarch.org).

 

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Testimonial: How Much Should We Give?

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As a newlywed, becoming a steward of an Orthodox church for the first time in my adult life, I first asked the question: “How much should we give?” When I put the question to the church office administrator, she knew from experience that what I really meant was, “What do most people give?” Giving at my new parish was on a stewardship model, so there was no minimum or membership fee. I wanted to know what the right amount was for the privilege of attending services and having the priest available for our needs, something like a membership fee to other organizations in our life. But, to be honest, I also didn’t want to give “too much.”  Read More →

Pentecost

The icon of Pentecost offers powerful reflections on God’s gifts to us. As Christ promised before He ascended, the Holy Spirit is being sent, making the Holy Apostles members of the Risen Lord. We, like they, are called to receive the Holy Spirit and to seek to use the gifts He gives us for God’s glory and for our own salvation. This event occurred on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, when the first-fruits of harvest were brought to the Lord.OPD6PentecostStewardshipPoster

Posters of the 12 major feasts are available on the Parish Development webpage at goarch.org.

 

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Let us give thanks to God continually. For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us in deed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favor with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us. He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.

St. John Chrysostom

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[T]he rich man is not the one who has collected many possessions but the one who needs few possessions; and the poor man is not the one who has no possessions but the one who has many desires.

We ought to consider this the definition of poverty and wealth. So if you see someone greedy for many things, you should consider him the poorest of all, even if he has acquired every one’s money.  If, on the other hand, you see someone with few needs, you should count him the richest of all, even if he has acquired nothing.

St. John Chrysostom

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