I hear a fearful refrain coming from church leaders, from every denominational level. They twist their fingers into knots as they say: If we don’t have our endowment, we will die. It’s our job to protect the endowment for future generations. Our future depends on a healthy endowment.
“You might think,” I told a group of high school students gathered for “Service Day” at our church’s community meal, “that we have to deal a lot with scarcity here. We are trying to feed 250 people a week entirely from donations. But the truth is that our bigger problem is often how to deal with abundance.” I pointed at the table where we had put donations that came in from a nearby Whole Foods: strawberries just about to rot, packages of guacamole, gallons of milk, cartons of organic yogurt, and dozens of loaves of bread.
I grew up in the midst of the Prosperity Gospel movement, and it’s left its mark, I’m afraid. I believed that God would bless (meaning financially bless) those who served the Almighty. It wasn’t only service, but God’s favor also came with financial reward.
Sheldon Garon contends that Americans lack moral teaching on wealth, public policies that encourage saving, and a cultural ethos that nurtures thrift.
My files are full of stewardship sermons. So it came as a shock when people would say, “We know you don’t like to talk about money.”
This is the third and final post in a series of interview questions. Montreat Conference Center has an Institute for Church Leadership. Since I will be preaching at their "Leading With Bold Imagination" Conference that is coming up, they asked me a few questions. If you'd like to read the whole interview, here is part one and part two. And if you have a chance to attend the conference, I would love to see you there. Montreat's setting can feed the soul.
Docetic offertory prayers imply that the money inside the envelopes in the offering plates is unimportant, even embarrassing.
Most fund-raising board meeting discussions, when stripped to the core, become one common, persistent question: "How can we persuade people to give more?"