Covenant Connections

Stewardship Refocused on Talents

Dec 8, 2022

By Robin Morris and Lynn Miller
Limestone Presbyterian Church

What do you get when you cross the Parable of the Talents with a Stewardship theme of Planting Seeds? You get spiders ready for adoption or bees ready for change! Oh my! You get members thinking about how to use their gifts.

At Limestone Church (Gaffney), we normally conduct a stewardship focus in the month of October that culminates in the submission of financial pledge cards like many other churches. This year the theme was “Planting Seeds” and is based on the Parable of the Sower. In this story, Jesus tells about a farmer who scatters seeds that end up in a variety of places with a variety of results: along a path where the birds eat the seeds, in a rocky area with very little soil where the plants come up quickly but don’t have good roots, among the thorns where the weeds surpass the plant, and where the seeds fall in good soil that produces an excellent crop. This is, of course, a great parable for teaching about stewardship. But what happens when you add in another parable – the Parable of the Talents. What happens is you get a $20 experiment!

Our new pastor, Lynn Miller, asked the Session to consider an experiment of giving each member $20 and challenging each person to use the money to demonstrate their talents in some way during the month of October. We took the risk! On the first Sunday in October, we gave every person, including the children, $20 to use for the month. We let them know that we would hold a Ministry and Market Fair on the last Sunday of the month for them to share what they had done or to sell what they had created.

We shared a few ideas to help our members think about ways to use their money. We suggested baking cookies and selling them at the fair. Or sewing something or making a craft to sell at the fair. We suggested that folks could collaborate – several folks could have t-shirts made to sell. We said they could simply use their $20 to support a local mission. We also told folks that they could hold the $20 and turn it in on the last Sunday no harm/no foul. During the month, the church was abuzz with conversations about peoples’ gifts and how they might use those gifts. We even had one person offering to sell ideas for $1 each. Clever!

The Confirmation Class was responsible for the Market and Ministry Fair. The Youth sold “booths” for $1 for people to display their wares. We had a large variety of items available for purchase: pumpkins made out of socks, wooden Christmas ornaments and angels, fire starters, paintings, pocket prayer blankets, crochet earrings, mustard seed bracelets, cookies, and Limestone decals. We even had “Pet Spider Plants ready for Adoption.” One family auctioned a spaghetti dinner for four, while another sold lunch of beef stew, rice, cornbread, and brownies.

My theme (Robin) was “Bee the Change.” I gave people a small zip lock bag and asked them to put coins from their car console or dresser in the bag and bring the bag to the fair. No one knew what I planned to do with the coins, but they gladly brought coins in the bag to the Ministry and Market Fair. From loose change, we collected $230.01. (My bucket was so heavy I couldn’t carry it into the sanctuary.). My point was to say that even with only a few coins, we could “Bee the Change” that we want to see.

During the worship service following the Ministry and Market Fair, we asked people to bring the results of their experiment to the chancel area. We had distributed $1,000 and collected over $1,900. Additionally, we know that members also supported local ministries by buying warm hats and gloves for children, creating care bags with water and other necessities for people experiencing homelessness, purchasing hives of bees through Heifer International, assembling an Operation Christmas Child box, and more.

During worship, we also submitted our 2023 pledge cards and Time and Talent sheets. These will be helpful for our Finance and other committees. However, the seed that yielded the most results was the $20 experiment. While the return is impressive, the real value was the discussions we had about our talents and how we can use those talents in our neighborhood and what it means when we are entrusted with the congregation’s resources. Our folks are already talking about what they’ll do for next year’s Ministry and Market Fair.

How would you use your talents if the church handed you a $20 bill?