Today’s newsletter marks the launch of a series on Preaching and Stewardship in partnership with Working Preacher from Luther Seminary. For the next three weeks the email newsletter will also contain a short video, followed by some reflections.
Today, the preaching moment video features Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor of the 20,000 member Church of the Resurrection near Kansas City, Kansas.
Adam Copeland, Director, Center for Stewardship Leaders
Adam Hamilton on Preaching Stewardship
By Adam Copeland
Few pastors I know felt the call to ministry out of a deep love of talking about money. Fewer still sought to become preachers because they enjoyed asking for money. While stewardship preaching sometimes requires that pastors invite people into the joy of giving, perhaps emphasizing this approach as primary misses the point.
In the video below, “Preaching Moment 318: Adam Hamilton on Preaching Stewardship,” Hamilton describes his stewardship journey as pastor. He started out with a more mainstream approach, viewing stewardship preaching as connected to the church budget and emphasizing the church’s mission. Eventually, though, Hamilton came to understand preaching stewardship as primarily about pastoral care.
Money is a deep source of anxiety, confusion, and pain in many people’s lives. Preaching stewardship, therefore, can indeed be an act of pastoral care (and not, primarily, fundraising). Approached in this light, perhaps pastors and church leaders will connect financial stewardship with what drew them to ministry in the first place.
In my experience, most people are hungry to talk about money with one another. The church can provide a place to do so that models other values than those of our consumer culture. I’m part of a group of guys that meet monthly to enjoy each other’s company and some fine spirits. Every night we get together, money comes up one way or another. Because of our values, though, the topic is seldom about buying the biggest house or fanciest car. Instead, we talk about the things that matter to us: budgeting apps, the non-profits we support, political candidates whose campaigns we have contributed to, and yes, even saving for retirement.
Interestingly, I don’t think saving for retirement has come up in a church I’ve attended. But, anecdotally, I have heard of more congregations taking up Adam Hamilton’s approach and offering classes related to budgeting, retirement saving, and paying off loans.
Now let’s be clear, this approach doesn’t exactly make preaching stewardship any easier on the pastor. Surely, pastors can’t be expected to be financial experts or understand the nitty-gritty of investment strategies. Thankfully, then, the sermon probably isn’t the best time to get into these details.
The preaching moment is the time, though, to frame what scripture says about money and our relationship to it. Society says our value is measured by our financial worth. And our culture often equates success with financial success, shame with financial failure, and shows more respect to those with more financial resources.
The message of the gospel is clear, however. We are to love God, not money. And Jesus repeatedly upends our expectations about who and what is valued in God’s kingdom. Jesus tells the rich to sell their possessions. He praises the poor. Jesus warns that where our treasure is, our hearts follow.
And so, preaching becomes a time to care for the congregation, declaring the good news of the gospel, that Jesus sets us free. That sounds like pastoral care to me!
Stewardship Speaker Series: Join us on campus this summer (June 16, July 21, August 18) for breakfast as we hear from groundbreaking stewardship leaders practicing distinctive, top-notch stewardship. Come to one event -- or all three! All events are free and open to the public. For more information, and to register, visit: www.luthersem.edu/stewlead.