Rev. Jim Evans

From the outset of Crosscreek’s existence, money has been a concern. Crosscreek began as a mission church sponsored by the Shelby Baptist Association, University Baptist Church in Montevallo, and what was then the Home Mission Board; monies were provided to call a mission pastor. His salary and health insurance were provided along with housing and travel expenses.

Happily, the mission church saw extraordinary interest and involvement by locals. It was obvious that the planting of a church in Pelham was a timely move. And the decision to situate the church in the midst of the burgeoning Crosscreek community proved to be a sensationally successful endeavor.

Of course, with success comes growth which results in challenges of meeting space, literature for Bible studies, music ministry, and additional staff. It soon became obvious that a building of some sort would be needed for the mission church to continue on its way to becoming an autonomous church.

Funds from the Home Mission Board were available, as well as some limited funds from the Shelby Baptist Association. But at the end of the day, the mission was called upon to contribute to the needs of the mission with generous giving. As the mission gained status as an autonomous church it became necessary to secure funds from a local bank. Taking on this financial responsibility, along with the other costs of doing ministry, created a situation where the now Crosscreek Baptist Church needed to cultivate a systematic way of giving that would allow the church to function on its own. 

The language outlining this systematic giving plan is found in the Church Covenant. This is the way it is expressed:

We confess that God is the giver of all things. We are called to be stewards who live generously and we are committed to stewardship in which the tithe is conceived as the minimum as far as possessions are concerned and which recognizes that all that we have and are belong to God.

We are here because we know that how we spend our time matters. We are committed to practicing a lifestyle open to the demands of Christ and faithful to the opportunities of worship, witness, education, and ministry through this local church.

It is very easy for us to allow the tithe, ten percent of our income, to become the end goal of our giving. But in the Church Covenant it states plainly that the tithe is the minimum, the entry level of our giving. What stewardship really means is that all that we have and who we are, are gifts from God. Stewardship is the careful tending of these gifts so that the whole of our lives is brought under a spiritual discipline which results in a faithful response to God with the fullness of our being.

The tithe is the minimum in this discipline.

The tithe is the minimum in this discipline. 

Reinhold Niebuhr is regarded as the best American theologian we have ever had. Raised in the Midwest, educated at Elmhurst College in Illinois and Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Niebuhr was the embodiment of middle America. And even though he became the most significant theologian in America in the 20th century, his roots were deep in the soil and sweat of the American experiment.

There were many doors open to Niebuhr as he completed his education. He could have easily become a university or divinity school professor, which he in fact did, serving on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York City for over 30 years. But before plunging into the world of academia, he chose to serve as a pastor in Detroit from 1915 to 1938. 
His tenure at the Detroit church paralleled the economic transformation brought about by the rise of the auto industry. His church membership was composed of both line workers in the auto factories, but also auto executives who were experiencing incredible financial gain.

In his journal, Niebuhr records a stewardship visit he made to a wealthy Ford executive who was also a prospective member of the church. The gentleman in question accused Niebuhr of only calling on him for his money.

“You’ve got it all wrong,” Niebuhr said.  “I want yours so I can get you.”

The tithe is the minimum, it is the entry point of stewardship. The true discipline of being a faithful steward is in the presentation of all that comprises our life—material and spiritual. 

God wants our money, but what God really wants is us.