This is a letter in response to a recent email Secular Fundraising and Christian Stewardship hich included portions from an email by Greg Bradshaw.
Sara believes whether we use the (secular fundraising) techniques or not, church stewardship committees should understand the techniques and how other people use them and why their church will choose to use them or not.
She also states: "I think that there is an underlying hostility to the people in the church who do give a lot of money."
She agrees that it is very important to say thank you.
I have a couple of comments.
Churches are legally non-profits. It is a "both-and" situation and as Lutherans we respect being a part of the law of the land that our church is housed in. Most church administration personnel whether pastors or business managers need to understand this basic concept.
I went to a non-profit conference put on by the accounting firm of Larson/Allen and was enlightened by the legal responsibilities that boards of non-profits have to adhere to, especially in this post-Enron world. I hope to use some of the material to develop a council orientation for next year. We as Lutherans should not encourage churches to stand outside the legal system or not follow the basic tenets of being a non-profit in our society.
I know Greg was only referring to using secular fund raising and I hope to read the book to be better informed. Having been to many secular fundraising classes and working with many non-profits I will say this. Whether they use the techniques or not, church stewardship committees should understand the techniques and how other people use them and why their church will choose to use them or not. The people in the pew get hundreds of requests for money a year. I believe God also works in organizations outside the church umbrella thus the average person must discern who is doing God's work. Some people would conclude that all churches are not doing God's work.
I think that there is an underlying hostility to the people in the church who do give a lot of money.
Pastors are in a difficult position because many times they do know who gives a lot of money and will constantly have that in the back of their minds as they do pastoral care and decide whose suggestions to champion. Pastors have immense power within a church. Many times people who give a lot of money, have personalities that are used to having power and control. Those are the traits that enabled them to earn the money to give in the first place. Pastoral power and powerful lay leaders can come into conflict and the money is just the excuse they all use to justify their actions.
I think that Jesus treated rich and poor alike. He ate with Zacceus. He challenged the rich young man. He lauded the widow's mite. He healed and taught crowds of people. The difficulty is to treat people with Christian love no matter how much money they give.
Should we say thank you! Yes! I want to say thank you and give praise as much as possible for all the little things people do to make the church a wonderful community of believers. Used correctly it can set a positive tone within the church. Just like I want my children to say thank you as a part of having good manners. It is a good reminder for the person saying thank you that they are not in control and God works through many people and organizations.
Sara A. Barnaby has her Masters in Leadership from Luther Seminary, 2003 and is a Financial Consultant for Churches and Non-profits, Anrias Inc.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.