North America

Reimagining Stewardship Stories

Stewardship leaders in North America embark on journey to teach stewardship lessons to children.

Columbia, Maryland, United States | Rich Aguilera/Beth Thomas, ANNC

In late 2015, John Mathews, Stewardship director for the Adventist Church in North America, commissioned me to help produce several resources to teach young people stewardship principles in a way they could understand. Like many, when I heard the word “stewardship,” I assumed the words “tithe and offerings” were soon to follow. I discovered how much bigger stewardship really is! I also learned that, at its core, stewardship is about acknowledging God as Owner of everything we have, and that we have been placed as managers of these things.

As Mathews and I talked and strategized about other ways we could help young people understand stewardship principles, we noticed that film was the cultural language of our society and this storytelling format was continually setting the tone and thought-patterns of our current generation. With a modest investment from the North American Division, I accepted the challenge and set out to create a simple, yet fun story, about stewardship for kids and families.

A little over two years have passed since that initial conversation. Pablo Fernandez, director of photography, and I have invested hundreds of hours to create a unique resource to help people of all ages understand that being a good steward is a life-changing concept.

The Mysterious Note is a story about a family from Chicago, a large city in the US state of Illinois, that is completely caught up in a self-serving lifestyle. When the businessman father brings his family on an overnight business trip to a small town in the neighboring state of Michigan, an unexpected turn of events unfolds when he clashes with a store owner who runs his store using biblical principles of stewardship. In the meantime, his mischievous son befriends a couple of local kids and they discover a mysterious note that catapults them into a four-day adventure of mystery and self-discovery.

In this film, Biblical stewardship principles are subtly weaved throughout the story. The principles will help both kids and adults learn to trust God with everything that has been entrusted to them. The film reminds us that when we love and trust God with all we’ve been entrusted with, our outlook on life changes. Suddenly, we find joy in a simple concept such as generosity. Other concepts taught are how to be content with what we have, and that God will bless and reward those who are faithful to Him with all the important things in their life.

The 90-minute film contains more than 70 instances where a stewardship principle is taught. Of course, the goal was to teach these points without being preachy. This storytelling platform provides a fun and visual representation of what it could look like when you trust God and are faithful to Him no matter what you are faced with in life.

While speaking at a church in Michigan, I told them about the movie project and encouraged them to utilize the resource as an evangelism tool to connect with their friends and community. I will never forget when a teenage girl stood up and said, “Mr. Aguilera, thank you for making this movie. I can’t get my friends to come to church, but I can definitely get them to watch a movie with me.”

I then realized that the evangelism potential was much bigger than I thought. Besides teaching young and old about stewardship principles, this could be a fresh new way for people to engage their friends, families, neighbors, and co-workers for Christ.

I'd like to challenge you with a few questions: Is it possible to help others connect with Christ through a movie? Can the Holy Spirit use a story to turn someone’s heart toward God? Is it a good idea to experiment with unique, new ways to do evangelism? I believe the answer is yes, yes, yes!  Additional study guide resources are also being produced to help people follow-up with friends who watch the movie with them.

Please keep this project in prayer. Ask God to help this project be a blessing to kids and families all over. We want children and adults to see that when they let go and let God, wonderful things will happen!

If you feel God is compelling you to consider this movie project as a potential tool for teaching and evangelism in your area, please connect with us via the movie website We will be facilitating multiple methods for screening the film in your community but we need the help of local individuals to make it happen.  We will also eventually provide online resources to help you organize smaller watch parties you can host in your home.  

BIO: Rich Aguilera is a writer/producer and owner of One Mustard Seed.