Money Talk and the Congregation

Some people think that annual stewardship campaigns are about money; they are wrong. Stewardship campaigns are about commitment.

~Jerald L. King, Stewardship Consultant

Our relationship with money is complex. The relationship evolves throughout our lifetime. We are born into a culture of money–our family’s culture–and are influenced by the money cultures of our local communities, congregations, and society at large.

Whether we have a lot of it, or very little, money holds power in our lives. Money is wrapped up in our values, beliefs, and attitudes. It affects our relationships with others, particularly in the realms of family, work settings, and religious communities. Money is a form of energy that both moves through our lives and moves us through our lives. Our perceptions about money can be positive or negative, depending on our experience with it.

When it comes to money in the congregation, there are layers of complexity, because each person encountered carries a unique blend of experiences, attitudes, and feelings about money. Talking about money can trigger intense emotional reactions in some. As a result, the topic can be awkward–even taboo–to discuss openly and authentically in faith communities.

Asking people to give their money to support the congregation requires understanding and sensitivity on the part of those doing the asking. Those enlisted to engage the conversations about money and giving in the congregation benefit from training and support. This involves the opportunity to first explore one’s own relationship with money and commitment to financially supporting the congregation and its mission before asking another to give. As confidence builds and talking about money becomes more comfortable, a new culture of generosity and stewardship can emerge and prosper.

Stewardship is important and essential work of the congregation. It is a spiritual practice of careful tending to the needs and resources of the community. At its best, stewardship is a ministry that promotes healthy relationships with money and with one another.

This link will take you to the presentation slides used for training stewardship teams: Annual_Stewardship_Campaign_team_training_2012

A recent Alban article by Craig A. Satterlee, Preaching is Not Fund-raising from the Pulpit, poses some interesting challenges for stewardship leaders focused on raising funds to support their congregations’ annual operating budgets: