A Theology of Resources: The Kingdom Value of “the Ask”

Steve Bury, Executive Director for Urban Impact in Seattle, presented a Theology of Resources to those gathered for their Fall Celebration event. Mary McCracken, Director of Community Outreach, and team members Kris Bennett and Julie Brunings, were glad to attend, and suggested we share Steve’s ideas with our mission community.

Steve shared that his thinking around “the ask” has been evolving into this goal: to develop a consistent message to our greater community–whether materially poor or wealthy–to provide a biblical basis and framework for our work in community development and resource development that brings glory to God and transformation to His people.

Around this goal, Urban Impact has developed the following questions:

Who is God?
Who are we?
How should we live?
How should we work?

They were led to four commitments that Urban Impact believes about God, and everything they do flows from them. Steve was gracious to send his notes to me (Mary) and I’ll share them here:

Four Foundational commitments:

  1. God is relational. Beginning with the Trinity, that dance between God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we see throughout Biblical history even to this present day a loving God pursuing us to be in relationship with Him. This culminated with Jesus leaving the glory of heaven and moving into the neighborhood. When Jesus returned to heaven, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, and to reveal God’s truth and His kingdom to earth. 2 Corinthians 5 lays out His message of reconciliation and call us to be His ambassadors.

A key foundation of Urban Impact is this commitment to reconciling our relationship with God, self, others and creation. We work knowing that Christ has brought reconciliation to all four relationships (God, self, others, and creation). Therefore, we are to nurture, honor and steward these four relationships in a way that honors God and is in alignment with His purposes. These broken relationships are what causes poverty, individual and systemic generational poverty, social, material, and spiritual poverty. We work to break these cycles and build hope in all these areas.

  1. God is creator and owner of all creation. We believe everything was created by God and for God’s purposes. Our sin caused brokenness in our relationship with God; it also broke creation and our relationship with creation. God continues to work toward redeeming us relationally and to see His creation, His Kingdom, healed and brought here on earth. Colossians lays out Christ’s supremacy and His work to restore all things unto Himself. We are committed to combating our American culture of ownership, which impacts every area of our lives, with this foundational truth that God is owner of all and all our work should point back to Him and bring Him glory.

We are committed to Living only under God’s Kingdom. Our culture tempts us to live in dual kingdoms, God’s and our own, but that does not work. We cannot serve two masters.  We live knowing that this earth and possessions will fade away. Therefore we will seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, listening to God’s voice so that we may obey His commands.  We seek this for our entire community: our families, neighbors, staff board, volunteers and giving partners.

  1. God is provider. We believe God is the sole provider of all things, including our possessions, our finances, our families, and our ministry. There is so much laid out in scripture showing how God provides for His people and His work. He provides for what He directs. We see the importance of fighting our tendencies to rely on ourselves, on our expectations of others, and on our resources as the source for our hope and security.  Instead we live our lives full of trust, understanding that God is our Provider.

God entrusts us to steward all that He has provided. God is owner; our role is to be His stewards. This is a very different way than most of us have been living. We see God’s provision as ours and then give Him back a little through our benevolence and good will. Our commitment is to see it all as God’s, and to respond by listening to Him and asking Him not just “what do you want me to give?” but “how do you want me to steward all that You have given to me?”  We surrender all wealth and resources under His authority, living a life of freedom in stewardship. 

  1. God is generous. The final foundational truth that we are committed to, is that God is generous. His nature is generous; we see this in creation, in His redemptive grace and giving His own Son, to His ongoing provision for His people. He continues to give abundantly out of all His resources. We look to God as the ultimate example of generosity and recognize Him as the Giver of all good gifts.

We are called to similar generously as a form of worship and obedience to God. Modeling God we are called to be generous stewards with what He provides.  He provides for us so that we can enjoy and share His resources in community.  He calls us to be cheerful givers, and to take risks, reach out and share everything in a radical way. Acts 4 describes this new church in a powerful way: “The gospel was being proclaimed, grace was abounding, people were so committed to Jesus and this new community that they did not consider their possessions as their own, but sold land to provide for each other.” As a result, “there was no poor among them.” This was a radical generosity that was contagious and powerful. This scripture has become a rally cry for us, and we dream of this being said of our churches and the Urban Impact community. Wouldn’t it be exciting if that is how all our churches and communities were known?!

 

Where have you experienced God’s radical generosity in your life?

Where do you feel challenged and/or invited to give radically in your community?

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