Rector's Blog: Talking About Money
Do you know how many bad conversations I’ve had when talking with people about giving money to the Church? Zero. I have never had a bad conversation about giving. In years of working in a faith community that requires fundraising, every single time I’ve had the opportunity to talk with and listen to people about the act of committing financially to their church it has been a blessing, a gift, and a memorable spiritual experience. I feel like typing “And I mean it,” because I can feel your incredulity as you read this. Like, there’s got to be another shoe and it’s got to drop soon.
There’s such a strange energy around talking about money in the context of church. There’s gravity to it, and baggage. It’s as if we all wish it never had to come up. As if we would far prefer our relationship with Jesus not to have any connection to our relationship with our bank accounts. So even when we love our community or trust our leadership, when the money conversation comes up, we all sort of brace ourselves. Before I began writing this week’s blog, I told a friend what I was doing and he immediately responded, “Try telling them ‘I know God and this will get you into Heaven.’” Which is funny. And it’s also totally what so many of us are afraid of hearing. We’re scared that this is the message behind giving to church.
Well, I do know God. And your eternal Heavenly destiny is way above my pay-grade.
What’s not above my pay-grade is the work of reminding our community of our relationship with money, and what impact it has on our hearts, our spiritual experiences, and our shared life.
I did mean what I said: I have had zero bad conversations about money - and I don’t mean that people have always said “yes” to me, that the outcome was always what I expected, or even that the conversations were always comfortable. None of these things are true. But every conversation about money and the church is entered into with love and authenticity, and with transparency and courage. And every conversation ends with a deeper understanding of how we’re connected to this community and to each other. That’s a huge win for everyone.
This world needs communities that are rooted and grounded in love. Our culture yearns for relationships of holy connection and communion. People seek to grow and mature spiritually. We are longing to be inspired by our understanding of God’s presence in shared life. You are being sent out to bless this world in practical and transformative ways. Our church – the Church of the Redeemer – envisions becoming a beloved community that knows Jesus and grows in love, engaging this holy work of healing, justice, and reconciliation in Jesus’ name.
And since we live in the real world and seek to do real work that makes a real difference, we know it isn’t free. It costs money. Talking about that isn’t weird or shameful. It’s the most natural thing in the world.
Over the next month, my writing will focus on giving to the Church. I hope you don’t check out, because the conversation is really about you. It’s about your heart. It’s about your life and your relationship with God as it’s lived out in your church community. I’m going to expand on five reasons why we talk about money and giving in the Church. I’ll even tell you the five reasons now:
- Your God and your church love you. This is the foundation for everything we do, and we start here because we remember you don’t give so that you’ll be loved. You are loved. Period. Any giving you do comes as a response to this love.
- You love your church. Your financial commitment to your church is not about obligation or currying favor. It’s an act of love.
- Your contribution makes a difference. Every single gift counts. Every single dollar facilitates blessing and changes lives. Your giving matters. It changes lives.
- Your commitment makes a difference. The decision to make the church a priority in your life and in your budget will change the way you live and transform your understanding of God’s presence in your life.
- Your money is connected to your spiritual life. They’re not separate. There’s no such thing as secular (non-spiritual) things in a world where everything was created by God, where everything was redeemed by Jesus. Your money is no different. It’s a part of your spiritual life.
I hope you’ll join me for this exploration of a difficult but essential part of understanding your life in Christ and in this world. We will move forward together in love.