The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The reflection below was provided by Rev. Stacy Emerson.
In her book, The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist shares a quote from Mark Kinney: “Money is like an iron ring we put through our nose. It is now leading us around wherever it wants. We just forgot that we are the ones who designed it.” So often in conversations around money, it seems like we are not in control. Things get out of hand, and we find ourselves with not enough or regretting our decisions or overwhelmed by debt chasing the things we want and think we need. Money seems to manage us as we forget that we are the ones who are entrusted with money management.
An important aspect of our stewardship ministry is teaching people about healthy financial management. And it should start young. I remember a lay Christian Educator who took out an oddly designed piggy bank during a Children’s Moment. She talked with the children about Saving, Giving to help others, and Spending. A third of whatever money they earned would go into each slot, and the children learned the importance of thinking about where money goes and being intentional about it. People in their teens, 20s and 30s also need help discerning about financial management as they earn more. Teaching about how to make a budget and keep to it, how to save for the future, how to give to help others, and how to discern discretionary spending are all a part of good stewardship. All of these “how-tos” must be taught. And as people age, planning for retirement and estate planning continue a healthy financial management conversation.
The church has something to share about faithful financial management and about discerning the ways God is asking us to steward money rather than have money manage us. Education and support around financial management will give people the tools and best practices they need to be good stewards. How can we expect people to give wisely if we haven’t taught them what that means?
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.