June 17, 2003
BOLIVAR – Preaching on biblical stewardship has resulted in church growth at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Bolivar, where Pastor Gary Urich has been pleasantly surprised by what has occurred throughout a church expansion campaign this year.
He kicked off the campaign Dec. 15, with a direct message on stewardship, not knowing how well it would be received. The result was blessing.
“We had five whole families join the church, two of them by baptism,” Urich said.
That trend has continued throughout 2003, despite what Urich admitted has been a little bit of fear on his part when it comes to addressing the topic of money.
The goal for the church’s capital campaign is $385,000. So far Southern Hills has raised $226,000.
“I’m a little fearful myself, but every stewardship sermon I’ve preached through this entire campaign I’ve had decisions,” Urich said. “I’ve had people join the church by letter or coming for baptism. We’re not that big of a church, either. We probably run about 180, on the average.”
Urich approaches biblical stewardship from the perspective of Psalm 24: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness. The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
“I believe that God owns everything and we’re just stewards,” he said.
Giving a tithe, or 10 percent of one’s income, is to be expected.
“The tithe is kind of like rent,” the pastor said. “It’s His. He expects a tithe, so we need to pay the rent. What we give above that would be more like a love offering.”
There is no need to fear biblical stewardship, Urich said. On the contrary, it would behoove more Missouri Baptist pastors to preach on it.
“We’re going to be judged for our stewardship, and since it really isn’t ours, it’s His, we need to manage it according to His rules,” he said. “We need to help the people understand that.
“It’s a great day to be a Southern Baptist and a Missouri Baptist. I am just so excited. Despite the struggles, despite some negativism, it is a great day.”