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Kitchen Table Giving

Few names are more closely associated with faith-related generosity than that of the Reverend William G. Enright, Founding Karen Lake Buttrey Director Emeritus of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and former senior pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. I was lucky enough to sit at Bill’s feet in one of his final opportunities teaching the Lake Institute’s Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising course. It was truly fantastic. There’s no real way to summarize a life’s worth of stewardship thinking and teaching, but this slim volume gives it a go. A review of Bill’s new book, Kitchen Table Giving is below.  

Yours truly,

Adam Copeland

Center for Stewardship Leaders

Kitchen Table Giving

Alex Benson

In Kitchen Table Giving: Reimagining How Congregations Connect with Their Donors, William G. Enright seeks to inspire life-giving fundraising practices that live into the realities of the 21st century church and culture. Enright weaves together congregational case studies, biblical narratives, and non-profit leadership strategies in order to integrate ministry, mission, and fundraising -- all in an accessible but information-rich 77 pages. Each chapter includes questions for personal and group reflection as well as concrete action steps.

Kitchen Table Giving sets out to explore five key issues: communities’ perceptions of leaders, congregational mission and vision, organizational readiness, relationship between money and Scripture, and fundraising best practices.

At the core of Enright’s argument is that religious fundraising is in and of itself ministry. Using the analogy of a kitchen table as a center of regular fellowship, Enright encourages faith leaders to find ways to enter into the ever-evolving webs of relational meaning-making to inspire generosity.

Enright describes how we have entered into a new cultural paradigm of giving. Congregations now find themselves competing with other faith-based non-profits and countless worthy causes for people’s dollars. Donors are less likely to give out of guilt, obligation, or institutional loyalty, and instead evaluate prospective giving opportunities based on values, results, and missional alignment. As Enright writes, “Faith-motivated donors want to know: ‘How in my giving can I support what God is about in the world?” (p. 8). It is this question that invites a deeper exploration of congregational mission and vision and the ways in which financial giving might be an invitation for God’s work in and through a particular community.

Recognizing that many congregations feel unprepared to address the realities of this new giving paradigm, Enright offers insight to effective stewardship leadership. To make the case for donor’s gifts, congregations must be clear about who they are and the concrete ways in which they feel called to engage in God’s work in the world. Leaders must be aware of a congregation’s overall readiness to progress a particular vision, navigating the complexities of potential cultural or generational differences in coming to a shared understanding of mission. Additionally, leaders must be able to articulate the multifaceted perspectives Scripture offers on money and possessions, avoiding oversimplification but also recognizing the depth the Christian tradition offers to financial management and generous giving. Enright writes,

When our Christian beliefs inform our giving, something life-changing and earth-rattling happens. The kitchen table becomes more than a giving table. It becomes a table of lavish grace, hearty abundance and contagious joy; and something serendipitous happens. In the words of Saint Augustine: "The presence of divine greatness walks among us when it finds among us the space of charity" (p. 61).

Readers will discover through Enright’s work a call to enter into stewardship ministry with joy, recognizing the opportunity for rejuvenated vision, storytelling, celebration of mission, and abundant invitation to join in God’s work in the world. 

I for one am grateful for Enright’s wisdom. He comes across as both optimistic and down-to-earth as he guides readers through what can be a sensitive (and oft avoided) topic in churches today. He is realistic about the financial challenges congregations face but frames these challenges as opportunities for deepening relational engagement and embodied faith. Ample case studies keep the book from getting bogged down in leadership theory, and a clear Christian framework gives helpful language for pastors, church staff, stewardship committees, and anyone interested in cultivating healthy stewardship practices in congregations. If you’re looking for a quick read to add to your stewardship library, definitely check it out!

For More Information

Alex Benson is an M.Div. senior at Luther Seminary. She serves as Program Assistant & Editorial Fellow for the Center for Stewardship Leaders.

Purchase Kitchen Table Giving: Reimagining How Congregations Connect with Their Donors by William G. Enright (2017) here.

Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising: Luther Seminary, in partnership with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, is hosting a four-day intensive course, May 7-10, 2018. Click here for more information.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.
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