Like every other organization that relies on the generosity of others, the church I serve is struggling during these economic times. We are not alone in this reality — but sometimes we act like it. Earlier this week, I sat down with the Senior Pastor and the Moderator to talk turkey. The Church Council entrusted the three of us to come up with a plan. In our discussion, I shared my heartfelt concern that The Church has not figured out how to talk about stewardship as an act of discipleship. (Hat tip to the Lewis Fellows.) This turned into a big part of our conversation. We talked about how uncomfortable we are to talk about money. Obviously, that means we avoid it — which results in panic when there is a large gap in the budget or (for example) the economy tanks twice. With every disaster, there is a silver lining. The economy might not yet have recovered but this is when we get to talk about stewardship as an act of discipleship.
We three wise people decided that we needed to start with the Church Council itself. There will be a committee (the second of its kind actually) that will look more in depth into our financial future, but we have to start with the governing body of the church. We have to pay attention to the fact that this is an act of faith — which means that this isn’t a conversation only for those people that know something about numbers. This is a conversation for everyone that seeks to have a life of faith. So, I volunteered to lead this first exercise at our Church Council meeting. The intention of this exercise is to invite the church leaders to consider their own feelings about giving. I offer it here in the hope that it will be improved upon and shared. If you use it, or if you have suggestions, please add your comments.
Total time: 25 minutes
Introduction (2 minutes)
With an offering basket in hand, begin by addressing the Church Council in this way:
Imagine yourself in worship. A minister — whose salary depends upon your financial support — offers an initiation to give your gifts, your tithes and your offerings. The music swells…
Turn on recording of organ music from CD player and continue:
Record these feelings on the same newsprint or a blackboard in a different color.
Circle those words that are of God.
The objective of this exercise is to delve into those feelings. From this exercise, we will actually build on this conversation by asking the question: What do you feel are the barriers for giving? This exercise is designed to answer that question organically. And, of course, it’s only the beginning. At the next Church Council meeting, I’ll lead an exercise on asset mapping so that we can celebrate what we do have. It will be a slow process but it’s these small steps (and the grace of time in-between to absorb these experiences) that allow us to grow in faith.