The Rev. David Bell, of Brighton, Mich., serves as vice-president of stewardship with The United Methodist Foundation of Michigan. Bell consults independently through Design for Ministry. He began a June 26 Bible study highlighting the widow’s mite story found in Mark 12.

Recalling this passage – which was his first stewardship sermon in his first church years ago – Bell shared that stewardship is more than just money, it is also about time and involvement.

“My understanding of Christian stewardship is that it’s not only money, but everything we have is a gift of God,” said Bell.

There are more passages about money that Jesus taught his disciples and people than other topics.

“There is this tension that exists in our culture,” said Bell. “The result is that the average American lives well beyond their economic means.”

Today, people are living in a hyper-consumer culture and an age of instant gratification. Bell called on conference members to address the economy.

There are several culture values – such as rich lifestyles, consumer debt, saving and giving – that are in place over biblical values of giving, saving, simple lifestyle and consumer debt.

“If you want to release the bondage that money has on your congregation, start giving.”

Bell shared information that most people are among the ordinary wealthy and our wants have been replaced with needs. “This idea of scarcity is pervasive across all economic lives,” said Bell. “People of less means give more.”

Bell continued, “Faith and money are linked together. You can’t separate those two. Contentment comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The longer the church is silent, how can the world hear? Contentment brings joy and peace into our lives.”

Bell provided six concepts for conference members:

Provide a Biblical/theological context,

  • Ask with a sense of anticipation,
  • Practice ethical/financial management,
  • Personally thank the giver,
  • Remind them of the mission to change lives, and
  • Create a joyful atmosphere of extravagant generosity.

In addition Bell will be presenting programs throughout Indiana during the fall and winter.

Today, people are living in a hyper-consumer culture and an age of instant gratification.