Charles LaFond had some fascinating things to say about money and spirituality in the life of the church in Thursday’s teleconference. He said only half of the financial stewardship task is to raise the money: “It’s also a pastoral ministry with people who are having to deal with money every day.” He suggested that people are longing for the church to speak on this topic. “They know in their gut that spending money on themselves is not the goal. People are in this maelstrom, this storm in which fear and money converge. They are looking for a way to make right their relationships with God and with money.” This struck me — how often do we think of the stewardship campaign as pastoral.
He suggested that talking about the issue of money and how we live our life in relationship to it is an urgent matter, similar to what priests and ministers in London where people had experienced death and destruction in plague and the Great Fire. Preachers had to talk about it, and in the same way, clergy need to address the issue of money. “Our version of plague and fire is money, our greed, and the commercialization of language.” He suggested that in this day, clergy need to “preach boldly about money and possessions.” They also need to be teaching the essentials of the spiritual life such as silence, sabbath and spiritual practice — even beginning by suggesting families light a candle for five minutes in the morning.
And of course, that means that clergy need a spiritual life of their own. He said that in his ministry of spiritual direction at a retreat house for several years, he was struck so often by how exhausted and “un-sabbathed” the clergy were. Now in his conversations with churches before he does stewardship consulting, he first talks with the clergy and key lay leaders about their own spiritual lives.
The Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire has some wonderful stewardship resources on their website. The recording of the teleconference is available. E-mail me at Margaret@margaretmarcuson.com, and I’ll send you the link.