Published February 19, 2015
DULUTH — In the July 10 edition of The Christian Index Joe Westbury wrote an article on new state missionary Scott Preissler and announced Preissler’s seminars on stewardship. Preissler leads stewardship education and training for the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Preissler recently completed that series of three seminars at the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center – lectures that were insightful, informative, and well received.
A sampling of Preissler’s extraordinary stewardship collection, better known as “The Kingdom Generosity Collection,” was also on display during his lectures for guests to view. Preissler calls his collection of artifacts, art, and books the “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not of Stewardship.” It is the largest collection on earth on the subject of Christian stewardship and generosity.
One poster in this amazing collection entitled “I Want to Preach a Sermon” was created and distributed in 1942 by the United States Rubber Company. The poster had nothing to do with the manufacture of tires or rubber products, but depicted a common American man back at home, proclaiming his patriotism by sacrificing and giving to aid the war effort overseas.
Depending on each other
In his lecture Preissler talked about how effectively Americans cooperated and brought their resources together in World War I and World War II against overpowering odds. He stated, “The United States prior to WWI was an agrarian society and people worked together cooperatively. A farmer typically could not harvest his crop by himself. He depended upon his neighbors to help him with the harvest and then his neighbors relied upon him to help them harvest their crops.
“It was biblical, faith-based cooperation and a thorough understanding of what stewardship is that brought America through the Great Depression and two World Wars. Giving and sharing beyond oneself was just simply what you did; and we know that working cooperatively is always better than working individually.”
In a private interview Preissler expressed confidence that cooperation was essential to the founding of this nation. “The Mayflower,” he asserted, “was a relatively small vessel no more than 100 feet in length, yet transported 102 passengers and had a crew of as many as 35 sailors.
“Imagine the cooperation that was essential to survive two months on the Atlantic Ocean in such cramped quarters. Almost half of the passengers died that first winter in Massachusetts. Those who survived had to sacrifice, work cooperatively, and serve one another in order to establish a new colony. It was their faith and understanding of Christian stewardship that made it possible for them to survive and even re-adopt one another, essentially forming new families.”
Preissler contends, however, that people for the most part no longer serve one another. He observes, “Religion in our day is being transformed with the rest of our culture and we have now entered into an era of stewardship amnesia. We have failed to retain the stories of how our parents and grandparents and great grandparents suffered loss and deprivation for the sake of the war effort or the sake of others, let alone for the common advance of the Gospel.
“Our children today have immediate access to cash. They have cell phones and wear $100 tennis shoes. If something is lost or broken we are now able to replace it immediately. We do not know what it is like to have to share with others or go without something we really want.”
The Baptist stewardship specialist insists that we are now suffering from what he calls “affluenza.”’ He defines “affluenza” as a disease whereby the victim is suffering from an unlimited access to money, yet oblivious to human misery or the need to cooperate to accomplish Great Commission objectives.
“The problem,” Preissler explains, “is that the Builders generation and Baby Boomers have more than $40 trillion to hand down to the succeeding generation. And the question is: Will they hand it down responsibly or irresponsibly?”
Several months ago the Preissler family took a homeless young man into their home. They gave him a place to live, bought him clothes, helped him get a job, and more recently helped him acquire transportation so he can become independent financially.
Preissler admitted it was not easy or convenient, but illustrated by his actions that stewardship is a way of life. He declares that stewardship must be connected to discipleship, adding, “Stewardship is larger than finances. It is everything we do after we say we believe.”
Currently the Preissler Collection is on display at the GBC Missions and Ministry Center. He is certain the exhibition will have a very positive affect upon stewardship among our people and in our churches.
Preissler concluded, “We need to make stewardship more visible and experiential. A visible imagery of stewardship will enhance Kingdom Generosity.”
Please continue to read The Index for upcoming special exhibit information at the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center.
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