Money and Your Ministry online course, with Israel Galindo


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.





4 replies on “Money and Your Ministry online course, with Israel Galindo

  • Rev. Jim Hinds

    Israel (and Margaret) touch on a most important issue. Jesus talked most about “the kingdom” and stewardship [in its widest context, i.e., money]. Even more than love. For him the needs of the people were paramount. For us the needs of the church in order to minister to the people are important.
    I look forward to the class this fall.

  • Paul Brassey

    Churches have been extremely slow to adapt to online payment systems. We cling to the ritual of the public offering during worship. The problem that I have personally with this is that I am no longer in the habit of paying by check or carrying large amounts of cash. For any bill of a set amount (i.e., car loan or mortgage payment) I set up an automatic payment system so that I don’t have to think about it. With my church contributions, I have to remember to write out a check and bring it to church (or mail it), there being no other way to make payment. I often don’t. (Not an excuse, just a fact.) I can’t imagine that I am alone in this. Many younger people live from cards or online payments and don’t have checking accounts. In my business it was very simple to set up a card payment system using my cell phone. I suppose it would be crass to pass an iPad with card reader through the pews. But it would bring in more money. And the pastor might even get a tip.


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