By Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div.‘14)
“Money is like Fight Club, we don’t talk about it.”
This was a statement made by a colleague during a stewardship seminar at Union Presbyterian Seminary this past spring. With my thoughts on the upcoming stewardship season, this thought rings loud and true in my memory.
If someone had asked me what my thoughts were about money and the church four years ago, I likely would have proudly stated that individuals will give as they feel called, but we shouldn’t put our focus on money and instead focus on volunteers and other gifts within our congregations. After working as part of a rather large capital campaign for three years, however, I have a bit of a different outlook.
In the South, generally speaking, it is not proper to speak of money. We don’t talk about how much we make or how much we spend (unless it was a great sale at Belk!) and we definitely don’t talk about how much we give to our churches. That type of thing is between us and God, right?
What if we do talk about it though? What if we explain our spending and investing to our children so that they better understand why they can’t have that toy or the family can’t go on that vacation? What if we talk about money in a way that prepares our children for real life, for when they have to make a life-changing financial decision? What if we explained why we give what we do to the church and other organizations and taught our children to think critically about their future investments in similar organizations?
Thinking outside of our front door, what if we share more about why we give to certain organizations? Or why we don’t give? What if we post about our excitement to invest in an organization as much as we post about our displeasure in current events?
More than numbers, I believe people are interested in stories. More than ‘yes’ and `no`, our children need explanations. We avoid money talk and favor time and talents; we avoid money talk in search for easy answers.
This isn’t to say that we should only focus on money, but we shouldn’t make it out to be an evil which we can function without.
I wish our time and talents could completely repair the broken HVAC or feed the crowded fellowship hall. I wish our prayers could fill the food pantry and repair the church van. The fact of the matter though is that we do need money to function, even if it is to simply buy materials so that time and talents can be put to work.
This stewardship season, don’t be afraid to talk about money directly. Church is not Fight Club. Share why you give, encourage parents to talk about it with their children. Hear stories and seek to answer questions. Take in all time and talents cards that you can, but don’t gloss over the fact that more is needed.
Very few people will give if they are not asked. I don’t know many who will give if they have no reason to. Where we invest our money is important and sets an example for others, the problem is that one cannot understand the example until it is explained.
We claim that money is personal, yet we show it in so many ways – how we dress, where we eat, what we drive, and even the phones we talk on. Isn’t it about time that we speak openly so that we can both learn from and encourage others in the ways that we invest our money?
How do you encourage your congregation to speak openly about their financial investments in the church?
How do you teach and encourage these open discussions in your home?