by Israel Galindo
(Guest post today by Israel Galindo, my co-teacher for the Columbia Theological Seminary online course on Money and Your Ministry, coming in October.)
I’m looking forward to co-teaching the online course Money and Your Ministry with Margaret Marcuson, the author of the book by the same name, which will serve as our text. The course will be offered by the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary in October 2014. In preparation I’ve been reading two additional resources. First, I’ve revisited Loren Mead’s seminal work, Financial Meltdown in the Mainline?
In his book, Mead posited, “In our use and misuse of these words–money, tithing, proportional giving, endowment, planned giving, fund raising, stewardship–we are crippled in addressing our financial problem because of our ambivalence and complex emotional feelings. … we are in deep water in the financial crisis that is rapidly approaching, this doublemindedness, and sometimes doubletalk, about money will handicap us in solving our financial problems almost as much as it already complicates our spiritual relationship to the world and to God.” (p. 88).
Mead observed, “In short, clergy are uncertain and uncomfortable about money, and their leadership in this area of responsibility is not as strong, clear, and effective as their leadership in many other areas.” (p. 103). Having consulted with clergy leaders for over twenty years, aside from dealing with difficult relationships and lacking expertise in organizational development, providing leadership in the area of money and ministry is the biggest challenge, and often the most precarious liability, for many pastors.
Along the lines of the intent of the course, Mead wrote that clergy “need to know why they feel uncomfortable talking about money when Jesus talked about it more than any other topic he is recorded as having talked about.” (p. 103). Typically, money is not the troubling issue (simply put, one typically doesn’t have enough, has too much, or, has sufficient), it is the leader’s relationship with money, and what it represents, that is determinative of effectiveness.
The second resource I’ve been reading is the more recent work by Lisa A Keister, Faith and Money: How Religion Contributes to Wealth and Poverty. Keister is professor of sociology at Duke University. Keister’s book acknowledges the under appreciated influence of religion, and religious beliefs, on American’s incomes, savings, and net worth. Keisler wrote, “Religious beliefs and values are an important part of culture, and what I showed was that these beliefs and values are indeed important motivators of the behaviors that lead to a critical component of well-being: wealth ownership.” (p. 223). In her book she demonstrates the relationships between religious affiliation and wealth, and, values regarding work and money. Her work does not merely propose the idea that religion matters for wealth accumulation, but she also provides strong empirical evidence to demonstrate that the two are closely related.
Of particular interest to those with a family systems theory orientation will be Keister’s approach in her research: “I began by exploring the intergenerational and demographic processes through which religion directly affects wealth. I showed patterns by religion in family background, including parents’ income, education, wealth (by exploring inheritance), immigrant status, and childhood family structure.” (p. 220).
At the very least, these two studies underscore two important points:
1. The relationship between money and ministry is important, and we should understand it.
2. The relationship we have with money is important, and we should talk about it.
Interested in learning more? Join us for the course Money and Your Ministry.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Ministry (Educational Consultants) and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan. Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans.