At the end of July, I had the opportunity to attend a conference at Luther Seminary called “Rethinking Stewardship: Connecting Faith and Finances.” Here are some of my notes and thoughts from that conference, hopefully bread to chew on as we move into a new season, a time when people in congregations often reflect together on money.
“When Jesus talked about money, he wasn’t asking for any… but asking about your relationship with it. Whether you have a lot or only a little, what you do with money will impact your faith. It can lead your heart to or away from Jesus.”
We live in a culture where daily we live through a barrage of messages that who we are and what we have are not quite enough. In an information-saturated society, there are huge narratives out there—capitalism, consumerism, materialism—this is not new information but maybe the increase in volume is significant. The average person in the U.S. is impacted by 5000 ads a day! People of faith might feel like we’re different, like we’re a little less influenced by all this messaging to buy, want, need, pursue, desire, control, make it. But, we’re in the thick of it too.
Just think, if we worship together just once a week, how small and insignificant that seems in comparison to 5000 advertising impressions a day. But, on the other hand, we dare to believe that as God gathers us together around God’s story, it’s a step toward a community that can help us live differently—in God’s counter-narrative.
So, here’s a few images of what that might look like:
· Worship as the place where we prepare for all the rest of the week. What stories, songs and prayers can we carry with us as we go to keep us afloat in a powerful sea?
· Times in our gatherings (worship, meetings, social events) where we want to hear people’s responses to this question, “Where have you seen God at work in your lives?”
· A day of rest each week from buying, spending, coveting (wishing for something we don’t have).
· Conversations with our kids and teens about money. Did you know that: U.S. teens earn $5.6 billion per year. They spend $100 billion per year. How do we talk with each other openly about how the choices we make with our money can change the world?
· How do we decide and prioritize what we share, save and spend? Who do we tell about those priorities? (For more on this, see sharesavespend.com or millenialimpact.com)
· How do we vote with our money? St. Paul-Ref has had continuing conversations about supporting businesses on University Avenue through the construction. What are other places where through the practice of using and giving our money, God might lead us in a new way?
This time of Rethinking Stewardship, an article about kids and money in the most recent issue of Thrivent magazine, and the same theme in the September issue of Gather (ELCA Women’s magazine) all have me wondering, how can we have more opportunities as we gather to talk about money openly with one another—as those who have little, as those who have much, in community?
One idea that parents of teens have shared with me is to inaugurate a “youth forum” during the education hour, an arena for real conversation on a variety of topics. What ideas do you have to energize our real conversation with each other about how we share, save and spend money and how that makes a difference in our faith?
Blessings this September,