Bob HulteenBy Bob Hulteen, Director of Communications and Stewardship

Is stewardship more about outcome or process?

I mean, budgets must be met, right? Buildings must be heated in the long, cold winter months. Professional staff must be compensated for the ministry they offer.

But, if we only look at paying bills, do we ever really get to talk about our shared mission? Do we get to dream together about how our congregations can be a benefit to their communities?

Do we only care about the outcome? (Do the ends justify the means?) Or is the process — the means – just as important?

I started thinking about this more deeply last week while having a conversation with Mark Schultz, a long-time friend and the organizing director for the Land Stewardship Project (LSP), a nonprofit founded to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland. He pushed some thoughts forward, coming from a slightly different perspective.

“For us, ‘stewardship’ is about more than a simple measurement of immediate outcomes. In other words, if all the farmland in Minnesota were owned by one big landowner or corporation, and it was well-cared for, that would not be the maximization, or the height, of stewardship,” Mark told me. LSP has the democratization of agriculture as a core value. As an organization, it wants active advocacy for the profession of farming.

“Stewardship is like love,” Mark went on. “It is most powerful, at its greatest, when all are practicing it. It is in the giving of love that we are most alive, as well as in the receiving. Similarly, we are called to care for the land – all of us. That caring, practiced by the many, not the few, is the best sense of stewardship. And, not inconsequentially, it is when the best care of the land, our planet, Creation, actually is achieved.”

Creation. Love. Justice. Those are all big concepts. Yet LSP also wants practical results that affect the lives of real people.

When we talk stewardship in the church, I hope we want the same. We want both process and outcome.

Also, being a great organizer, Mark hit me up to renew my membership in the LSP, which had lapsed. But I do care about creation, and love, and justice, and stewardship. So, I wanted to be a member of LSP again. Check.