STEWARDSHIP & FINANCE: What Makes a Good Steward?
In the role of steward, several steps can assist local church leaders in clarifying responsibilities and improve their stewardship even in an uncertain market.
A prudent process for overseeing investing and caretaking of funds should include a regular review of investment and spending policies. Such policies should include definitions of the authorities of the investment committee, fund managers, custodians and consultants. The policies should also set guidelines for types of investments, frequency of performance review and commitment to socially responsible investing.
Paragraph 716 of the 2000 Book of Discipline helps United Methodists in investment oversight, and applies to all groups from local churches to general agencies.
A guided session in the local church finance committee on the United Methodist Social Principles [available from Cokesbury in pamphlet form, (800) 672-1789] may prove valuable in the committee’s deliberations.
In her book, Friend of the Soul: A Benedictine Spirituality of Work [Cowley Publications, (800) 225-1534], Norvene Vest observes, “Stewardship places outcomes in God’s hands.”
Since all that we have and all that our church has is God’s, this approach to stewardship of money helps us achieve a sense of peace about our role as steward. By developing and following a clear, prudent investor process in a socially responsible way, we live out that understanding that all is God’s and that the outcome is in God’s loving hands.
--Byrd Bonner is executive director of the United Methodist Church Foundation in Evanston, Ill.