Great witness about money talk

Chick Lane probably is not a name a lot of United Methodists are familiar with, but he’s a favorite read of mine.  Chick is the Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary, a Lutheran school in St. Paul, Minnesota.

He has just retired and on his way out he posted the following to his own blog.  I thought it was worth repeating.


The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned

By Chick Lane

In this email, I have decided to reflect on my 3+ years at Luther Seminary and   share with you the one thing that rises to the level of “The Most   Important Thing I’ve Learned” in those years. That is a difficult task.

From   my work with students, I could talk about how impressed I am with them, and   how I anticipate looking around in twenty years and seeing how they have   changed the church. From my work with student debt, I could talk about the   growing conviction that student debt is driven far more by institutional   issues than it is driven by students’ making bad financial decisions. From my   work with congregations, I could talk about all I’ve learned about involving   adults under 40 in the congregation’s stewardship life, or the importance of   inviting potential users of a service or program into conversations about the   service/program at the earliest stages.

What   I have chosen to talk about is the   importance of congregations talking about money when they aren’t asking for   any. Historically, churches haven’t done this. Money talk has   mostly been limited to a week or two in the fall when next year’s giving is   the topic. People in the pews have come to expect this. Their assumption is   that whenever money is talked about, the church is asking for some. Another   even more problematic assumption is that beyond giving to the church, the   Christian faith has little if anything to say about how one acquires and uses   money. Put most simply, the attitude is, “Once I’ve given to the church,   my faith should butt out of my financial decisions.”

Obviously,   this is hugely problematic. When Jesus talks about money, his topic is never   about giving. It is always about the important intersection of faith and   finances. We have totally ignored the biblical witness in the interest of   getting the congregation’s bills paid. No part of a Christian’s life can be   safely put in a box and insulated from one’s faith.

So   what can we do? First, we can be intentional. Talking about money when we aren’t   asking for any is such a radical departure from the norm in most   congregations that developing a plan of action is important. As we begin the   new year, you could develop a plan entitled, “How we will talk about money   and faith at First Lutheran Church in 2014.”

Second,   you need to be clear about what you are doing. Since most   churches have only talked about money when asking for some, you will probably   need to announce to people, “We are going to talk about money today, and   we aren’t asking for any.” You will probably need to do that many times   before it will begin to sink in. Old tapes have a way of continuing to play.

Third,   you will probably be well served to have a variety of voices speaking this   new message.   Pastors will certainly need to be some of the voices, but not the only voice.   Every congregation has a number of lay leaders who have figured out how their   faith in Jesus impacts how they earn, care for and spend money. Let those   people tell their stories as an inspiration to others who aren’t as far along   on the journey.

Talk   about money when you aren’t asking for any. That, I think, is the most   important thing I’ve learned in the last three years.

  1. Bill McFadden says:

    I hope our clergy colleagues will read this and believe it.
    bill McFadden

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