By Jerry Love, Louisiana Baptist Foundation
ALEXANDRIA – Each of us typically spends our life acquiring “things” to meet the needs of basic survival. We also acquire “things” to satisfy our desires and to make life more comfortable or efficient.
These “things” can include a home, household goods and furnishings, some means of transportation, real estate, various types of collectibles, stocks, bonds, – the list goes on.
For some these things are very meager. For others it can represent great wealth. No matter what monetary value these things represent, God expects us to care for and use these things wisely for His glory.
And unless we can spend our last dollar on the day we die, we will leave something behind that will need to be transferred to another person or entity.
Unfortunately few of us put much thought into how to use our “things” to further God’s kingdom.
At best we tithe from current income to our church and give occasionally to special offerings.
But to be good stewards of the possessions God has entrusted to us, we must plan for the wise use during life and the wise disposition at death of our assets.
The Louisiana Baptist Foundation encourages local churches to implement a program to educate its members on how to utilize their personal assets for God’s glory during and after their lifetime. Combining Biblical teaching with estate planning is the basis for what the Foundation refers to as Estate Stewardship.
Demographic statistics tell us that due to the aging of both the Depression era generation and Baby Boomers, an enormous transfer of wealth to the next generation has begun, and will continue for the next 30 years.
One recent estimate of the amount of this transfer is in the neighborhood of $30 trillion in the United States alone.
By educating its membership on estate stewardship, local congregations can benefit from a portion of this wealth transfer and direct these assets toward furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One church that has undertaken this task of educating its members is First Baptist Church of Lafayette.
Over the past years the church, with the support of the Louisiana Baptist Foundation, has implemented its Living Legacy Foundation to encourage members to make gifts that support three general areas of the church’s ministry: facilities, local ministry and missions.
The staff has used several different opportunities to promote estate stewardship and giving to Living Legacy, including short messages in the Sunday order of service and church newsletter, banquets, seminars and sermons.
Later this month Living Legacy of First Baptist Church will present a unique approach to promoting estate stewardship.
The Hoppers, a Southern Gospel music family, will be featured in concert on July 30. (Information can be found at www.fbclaf.org.)
First Baptist will use the opportunity to provide information to those in attendance as to how they can support the future ministry of FBC though Living Legacy or any other ministry that God lays on their heart.
Two things are important for churches to keep in mind when starting a program of estate stewardship:
1) It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Promoting estate stewardship, as with all stewardship, should be an ongoing process. Assign a committee with good lay leadership to explore ways to keep estate stewardship in front of the congregation without adding extra burden to the staff.
2) The flood gates of giving will not magically open. Individual planning takes time. Lay a good foundation of education on giving and the gifts will come in time.
The Louisiana Baptist Foundation can assist your church with starting an estate stewardship program by providing guidance to staff members and laypersons.
The Foundation can provide education to the congregation and also assist individuals who have the desire to leave a gift to your church.
Please call the LBF office at 1-877-523-4636 or visit www.LBFinfo.org to learn more about the Foundation’s services.