Guest Outpost blog by Andy Kort
It is stewardship season at the church I serve, just as I am sure it is at many churches. In my career so far as a minister and working with various stewardship committees, I feel like we’ve hit most of the usual approaches, that is, except for guilt. We’ve done testimony, we’ve done every member canvas, we’ve done the reverse offering where we gave people money, we’ve asked people to “step up” one step on the giving chart and we even did stewardship during Advent once. I’ve preached generosity, thanksgiving, the fact that we are mere caretakers of our gifts and treasures. I’ve preached that we do not withhold giving to make a point, politic or because we are mad. And I’ve stressed that while what someone gives is between them and God, it also has a tremendous impact on the rest of the body of Christ. So, maybe it really is not only between them and God. It is between all of us.
But this year I was struck by the question: Why do we do stewardship? Borrowing the technique from others who have done #whychurch discussion and many others, I decided to try a Twitter chat called #whystewardship. I was (and still am) very interested in what motivates people to give to the church, why they do or don’t, and what frames or informs their thinking. To help with the chat, I asked Adam Copeland to co-host with me. I’m so glad that I did. Adam is the director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders and a member of the faculty at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’s smart, insightful and dynamite at these kinds of things.
Adam and I came up with some questions for the chat. Among them were:
- What motivates you to pledge/give?
- Why do you think we have such a hard time talking about stewardship in the church when Jesus talked about money so much?
- Do you (should we?) approach stewardship differently for different age cohorts, activity levels, income levels, etc.?
- How and why is stewardship different than fundraising? Or is it?
- How might we make stewardship more “year-round?”
How would you answer those questions? How would your stewardship or finance committee or your session answer those questions?
The chat was only an hour, but we could have gone all night. The answers were extremely compelling and hopeful. The passion, faith and theology presented were terrific. Also, I found the Twitter chat a fun, easy and valuable way to connect with people from all over and from varied backgrounds. I could see this being something a church could organize for their membership to discuss, listen, learn and share — assuming they are on Twitter.
Perhaps best of all, that evening we had pastors and laity thinking and talking (well, actually tweeting) about stewardship. Maybe it isn’t so hard to talk about money and stewardship… if only we give people the space to do it. It does seem that people do want to give, be generous, support the work of the church and give thanks to God.
So #whystewardship? Maybe it is simply the church giving God’s people another opportunity to do so.
You can see the whole chat on Twitter by looking for #whystewardship. Here are a few more resources:
- Check out the Stewardship Kaleidoscope conference.
- I cannot recommend this Lake Institute on Faith & Giving program enough!
- Finally, a video from this year’s stewardship campaign at the church I serve. church Thanks to Mihee Kim-Kort for helping make it! (Yes, we know the Easter part shows a Christmas tree. That’s intentional to remind us that Christmas is the start of the Easter story.)
ANDY KORT is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana. He is on Twitter @andykort.