April 1, 2008

Money and Making Disciples

Rev. Brondos posits this hypothesis: "The relationship between a synod asking for money and a synod promulgating pure doctrine is often inversely proportional. When the synod's efforts are directed toward the promoting Christ's teachings, there is less of an emphasis on raising money. And conversely, when there isn't as much emphasis on doctrine, there are greater efforts to get more cash to do "great" things."

I think it's an excellent point that applies to the congregation as well. The two congregations I have served as pastor have always been concerned about money, although their situations couldn't be much more different. It will ever be thus, wherever a pastor is, I suspect. Sometimes some well-meaning folks will mention that they wish we did "stewardship drives," like "the old days." I suspect the people saying such are the biggest givers, although I have no idea. And sometimes I'm tempted. I would like more cash in the coffers as much as anyone. And unlike the laypeople, my livelihood depends on it. But it seems to me that if we focus on the Word of God, if we point people's faith to the Sacraments and the promises God makes to them there, then the money will follow. People will give not because they were guilted into it, or because I tugged at their heartstrings, but because they value the preaching and want it to thrive here and elsewhere.

So, no stewardship talks. I simply say this, each Sunday before the offering, and let that be enough: "Through Christ let us offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving - the offering of lips confessing His name. But to do good and to distribute forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased." 


Jason said...

Dave Ramsey, a talk-radio host on financial matters, believes that it isn't that people don't want to give, he believes they do, but that they have made decisions in their finances that have made it difficult to do so. That is, they have spent more on stuff than they can afford because they have believed that debt is a natural part of life, and if they were to realize that debt isn't necessarily a natural part of life, they would have more of their income to spend by giving.

I think he's onto something. I don't know that it accounts for every instance, but I think it accounts for more than we realize and admit. This raises the question in my mind of what role, if any, does the church have in caring for its members to inform people of a better use of their finances?

Christopher Esget said...

That's a good point, Jason. Sometimes I think I need to be more direct; I have simply tried to get people to think about how they make possessions and leisure (which is bought with money) their god. Some people need a more blunt approach, I imagine.