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As a young man, Howard Dayton had one objective: to become filthy rich.
So he joined a mentorship program with a group of local businessmen. They, too, had one main goal: to influence the lost for Christ. And it worked! Through this mentorship program, the course of Howard’s spiritual, professional and personal life changed forever. Before long, he began to explore what the Bible had to say about money and possessions.
“That year-long experience radically changed me and the lens through which I look at life,” he said. “I’ve been focused on teaching people about stewardship ever since.”
Stewardship Is About Way More Than the Tithe
Howard’s definition of stewardship is different than what you may hear in church culture today. He believes stewardship isn’t just how you handle the tithe, but how you handle the other 90% of your income. Unfortunately, most people simply don’t know how to manage their income based on biblical principles.
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That’s why the congregation must be trained and equipped.
The Bible Encourages the Teaching of Stewardship
Howard points to three passages of Scripture that reinforce the importance of teaching church members to be good stewards of their money.
1. Matthew 28:18–20
“When Jesus gives the Great Commission, there are four ‘alls.’ One of those is to make disciples, ‘teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you,’” Howard said.
God’s Word is clear. We’re called to pass on everything we’ve learned.
The Bible contains 2,350 verses about money and possessions—15% of everything Jesus said related to issues of money. Howard is convinced the reason the Lord said so much about money is because He loves us and wants us to handle money in the smartest way possible. It’s an uncomfortable subject, sure, but if He felt it was important enough to cover, then so should we.
2. Luke 3:11–14
“It’s really interesting to me in Luke 3 where John the Baptist warns of the coming judgment,” Howard said. Three different groups ask John what they must do to repent, and John answers each of them:
- To the crowd, he says, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
- To the tax collector, he says, “Don’t collect any more than you are required to.”
- And to the soldiers, he says, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
“Every single time, repentance had to do with money,” Howard said.
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3. Matthew 6:24
Howard believes that, in our culture, materialism runs much deeper than we realize and affects believers in a much more profound way than we’d like to think. For him, the root lies in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
“Here’s the way I like to describe it: Every believer has had two basic decisions to make in their life. The first is found in Matthew 7:13—Am I going to take the broad way that leads to destruction or the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life?” Howard said.
“But there’s a second decision that they have to make: Will I serve money, or will I serve God? Unfortunately, I think that most Christians are taking the broad way and serving money without even realizing it.”
Materialism is so widely accepted in our society that it can almost seem normal. It’s even considered okay to go into debt to attain a higher standard of living than you can actually afford. It’s just how our world works today.
If only our church members knew a better way. Often times, the loudest voices speaking on the topics of money and materialism are ad agencies and credit card companies. If the church would speak truth to its people, families could finally move beyond living paycheck to paycheck and into a lifestyle of generous giving!
The Byproduct of Changed Hearts
The solution is to teach true, biblical stewardship—to change not just peoples’ behavior but also their hearts through the power of Scripture. No age group, income level or demographic is exempt from this need.
Howard encourages all churches to offer year-round training, not only because it fulfills a biblical command, but because people desperately need to be encouraged to handle money God's ways. The best part? Stewardship no long needs to be a fundraising campaign. An increase in giving is the natural byproduct of financial discipleship. Keeping this in perspective will help you work toward a healthy church and a healthy congregation.