Consider a fresh take on stewardship, consider its abundance. Why enter the conversation of financial stewardship from the idea that funds are scarce?
One perspective on stewardship is thinking of how it relates to generosity. Since 1969, giving to the church has routinely declined while giving to charities has increased.
‘For the last 45 years, the climate of stewardship has been an insane model – what Albert Einstein defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,”’ says the Rev. Charleston D. Wilson, ’13, Associate Priest for Evangelism and Parish Development at Church of the Redeemer an Episcopal Church in Sarasota, FL.
At a recent talk given on stewardship at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, Fr. Wilson challenged listeners to redefine the church’s traditional model of stewardship, to focus not on the institution but on the donor, to allow others to see what the church is doing in people’s lives, ‘Often we forget that stewardship is about helping others to live generous lives,’ he says. ‘As priests, let’s consider giving our parishes a theology of abundance to live generous lives.’
Typically, parishes enter into a ‘pledge drive’ or fundraising from scarcity rather than abundance. There is worry, concern, then the priest’s appeal to one’s faith. Instead, a culture of stewardship needs to be developed in the ethos of the church.
‘People of all ages want to know where the money goes,’ Fr. Wilson says. ‘The old model of ‘pledge drives’ has often been described by clergy as equal to being on a treadmill. It is exhausting and doesn’t describe how the church is investing its resources, how God is leading.’
For further reading on a fresh view on stewardship, consider the following books:
__ Creating Congregations of Generous People by Michael Durall
__ More Than Money: Questions Every MBA Needs to Answer: Redefining Risk and Reward for a Life of Purpose by Mark Albion and Liz Cutler Maw