Generativity as an Aspect of Stewardship

by New Church Starts

by Doug Ruffle, Congregational Development Team Coordinator, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference (and Path 1 Team Northeastern Jurisdiction Representative)

Generativity is all about the heart.  Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NRSV).  What is it that we who are involved in new church development most treasure?  For those captured by a spirit of generativity, the most important treasure are children and grandchildren–the generations who come after us, the legacy we leave behind so that they might carry the mantle of God’s love for others.

I was very small when my family piled into the 1951 Buick to head back north to Chatham after our visit with friends of the family in Haddon Heights, New Jersey.  The ride seemed extraordinarily long to me as a child.  The only form of entertainment was the car radio.  On occasion, our trip home was late enough to catch the Jack Benny radio show.  Even though he had started television shows, he still broadcast his weekly radio show every Sunday evening.  I loved listening to Jack Benny.  For those of you old enough to remember, Benny kept a stage persona of a very tight-fisted man–though in real life he was very generous.

I listened to one of Benny’s most famous skits:  Jack Benny was held up at gun-point by a man who demanded:  "Your money or your life!"  There was a long pause and finally the nervous robber shouted:  "I said, your money or your life!"  To which Jack Benny calmly replied:  "I'm thinking; I'm thinking!"

What do we hold onto?  What do we give away?  To whom do we pass the mantle of blessings onto in church?  You who are reading this blog are the ones to generate a blessing for many people.  You are the ones to help create the conditions so that others might know the love of God and the God of love. 

We in the United Methodist Church have a challenge before us.  The average age of a United Methodist in New Jersey, it is estimated, is 57 years old.  The average age of a New Jerseyan is 37.  There is a challenge to pass the blessing of life in Jesus Christ to a whole generation of persons who do not yet know him.  I encourage you to keep the flame of faith alive and well by your continued generosity of spirit and the work you do as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  This is the stewardship of the gospel and the treasure most dear to us.

Part of being a good steward means nurturing a new generation and giving them a powerful ministry to inherit. What does the future hold for your church?