BTW - What do you think about money? F. Winkler@pixabay.com
One of life’s great pleasures is reading the Sunday New York Times wedding announcements. No drama. No politics. Just pure joy. I particularly like reading how couples met (dating apps sound like a sure bet) and who married them (newly-minted Universal Life “ministers” dominate). It’s the promise of a new life together. It always puts me in a great mood. Let’s face it, I’m a hopeless romantic.
However, as those who have been married for a while can attest, relationships are not all fun and games. One of the big roadblocks to happily-ever-after is…money.
As the fall approaches, many of you are gearing up for your annual stewardship campaigns. Maybe you're feeling like your church’s happily-ever-after is a bit more rough and tumble than you had imagined. You feel like you’re battling over what is or isn't a reasonable budget. You wonder how to approach your congregation to appropriately express the need for their monetary pledge of support.
Give this a thought: each person in your congregation relates to money differently. Their relationship (yes, relationship) with money is probably different from the one you have. Maybe it would be helpful (like in a good marriage) to communicate more.
Rev. Dan Dick has given us a way to think and communicate about our relationship with money. His paper, “Money Autobiography" is organized around four areas:
1. formation (messages you were given about money);
2. values (how you now view money);
3. management (how you handle money); and
4. lifestyle (how your faith impacts you and your money).
The Money Autobiography is a month-long exercise with one question per day to “examine how we manage money and money manages us.” By its length alone, the Autobiography emphasizes how money impacts our world view. To see all the questions, go here.
Besides being a solo adventure, the questions can also be useful in other contexts. How about posing some of them at your next leadership meeting? Take two or three of these questions and ask people to answer one of them and then have a discussion.
Here’s a sample:
1. What attitudes did your parents and other family members have about money?
2. Did you feel rich, poor, or neither growing up? Did you worry about money when you were a child? A teenager?
1. In what ways are you a spender? A saver? In what ways are you generous? Stingy?
2. What do you like best about money? What do you like least about money?
1. How do you feel about talking about your finances with other people? Why do you feel this way?
2. How much money do you give to church and charity? Do you tithe? How do you decide how much to give? How do you decide where to give?
1. One strong theme of both Jewish and Christian faith is that wealth is given for the common good. What does this mean to you? Does anyone have a legitimate claim to your money and possessions other than you?
2. In what ways does your relationship with money affect your faith? In what ways does your faith affect your relationship with money?
These questions are a great way to get to know people better. They may help you in designing your stewardship pledging season by considering your congregation’s attitudes as well. And, they can lead to a deeper understanding of you and your church’s relationship to money.
Bonus: Use these questions with your partner, spouse, or significant other too. No doubt you’ll gain greater insight about yourself and that special someone. And then go take that walk in the rain, sing a sappy love song, and read a NYT wedding announcement together. Ahhh…I feel it. Love is definitely in the air.