Inspiring Generosity


Inspiring Generosity


8/8/2018

Should You Know Who Gives What? Part 2: You Respond

                                   Could this be you? @pixabay.com

I’ve been living the Portland urban life for a week – and it’s been eye-popping. Oh, you know, crazily dressed fashionistas, tattoos, piercings, ultra right vs. ultra left protests (thank God for alockdown in Ross’ Dress for Less)… all the things I miss after moving from Washington, D.C. to Salem. Vive la différence!

Speaking of differences, last week’s blog focused on whether or not clergy should know who in their congregation or faith community financially gives – and how much. Like most issues, clergy have varied responses. From, “No way. I don’t want to know.” to “Heck yeah. I want/need to know.” The 2016 Book of Discipline has now given clergy permission to know what and who gives. As I emphasized last week, “it does not mean you must know, it means you can know.”

After the blog posted, two clergy sent me thoughtful responses – both in the pro-knowing category. I found them to be insightful and, with their permission, thought you’d appreciate hearing their perspective. The first is from Rev. Lura Kidner-Miesen who serves churches in Drain and Cottage Grove, OR.
 
Dear Cesie:
 
Thanks for the article on pastors knowing about people's giving. While I often read that there's a fear pastors will treat the big givers better than others, has anyone mentioned that we may be giving them less pastoral care than some who give less? With a few exceptions, my experience is that those who give generously financially also give their time and effort and are committed to the church and Christ. The majority of these people ask for very little from the pastor and congregation. It's easy for our conversations to focus on whatever they are currently involved in doing at the church...and not how they are doing personally. 

Over the years I've periodically looked through the list of top donors and asked myself how long it has been since I'd shown them gratitude or checked in with them and given them pastoral care. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease," and I can slip into taking the quietly generous people for granted. 
 
God bless you,
Lura
 
The second is from Rev. Steve Wolff, who is serving in Nehalem Bay and the North Coast Ministry Exploration in Oregon:
 
Dear Cesie:

 

I have always insisted on knowing the giving records for the reason you give, that it gives insight into the state of the soul. It is what I was taught in seminary and actually I have had little resistance. But the insights have been deep…
 
My most poignant story was when the financial secretary told me about one family’s sudden drop in giving. I had a very good relationship with these folks, so I knew something was up. I went to him and just asked how things were going. Almost with relief he said, “Steve I’m going bankrupt, and I think I’m going to lose the business.” We had a long walk together in the month after that, never once talking about church finances. When I was helping him with the final move out from the business, he asked, “Did you ever think this would be one of your pastoral duties?” I replied, “I’m not doing this as your pastor, I’m here as your friend.” 
 
Finances are a spiritual matter – like most everything else – and if you approach it that way, it is a powerful pastoral tool.

Blessings,
Steve
 
Thank for sharing your insights, Lura and Steve. Anyone else want to weigh in?

And while you’re thinking about it, enjoy the things in your community that make it unique. Maybe you can hand out your own little awards and brighten someone’s day. Check out the one I found right in front of my Portland building. Spread joy!


Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Bob Ross. Real artist or not? Cesie thinks, maybe. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
 
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.

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