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We don't really need a large scale study to tell us this, although some have been done. We have only to look at those who are withholding their giving from churches over certain social issues, such as like gay bishops or who can marry whom.

 


Weekly Reflection: Pastor Dana Reardon
March 4 ,2007

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 Giving is Often a Measure of Trust

I am not really a stewardship expert.  Not in the sense that I can tell you all the statistics of why people give and what motivates them.  In fact, what I have learned about why people give only makes me want to fight against the current.  So often the message of the Gospel does not flow easily with the current but may even cause major ripples.

One of the best predictors, according to people who are experts, is faith in the leadership.  If people have a great deal of faith in the leadership of an organization, then they will be glad to open their purses and give.

We don't really need a large scale study to tell us this, although some have been done. We have only to look at those who are withholding their giving from churches over certain social issues, such as like gay bishops or who can marry whom.

But my question is, then where are you giving in the first place?  I know a member of a Lutheran church that was withholding its giving from its synod over the synod's being Reconciled in Christ -- that is, welcoming of gays and lesbians.  This church member did not believe in withholding for this reason, and so she mailed her contribution directly to the synod.  But was that church giving its benevolence dollars anywhere else?  Or were they just using a social dispute to pocket some of what they had previously budgeted to give away.

And how about individuals who are unhappy with their churches?  In my years of speaking on stewardship issues, people have frequently told me, "I would give more, but my church never spends it," or "When they start doing things the way that I like it, then I will give."  So where are they giving what God asks them to share?

At some point you have to decide whether you are just making excuses or if you are too far off from the leadership of your church. And then you still have two choices, become involved in the decision making of your church, or find a church where you do feel comfortable being involved.  In any case withholding your money should not be an option.

In the final analysis, God is the leadership of the church. So it may be true that the best measure of giving is faith in the leadership.  God trusts us enough to give us the stewardship over so much.  Do we have enough faith to hand over a tithe and trust God to handle it wisely?

So does God trust us with all that God gives us because we are so trustworthy?  No, not really.  What it means is that God trusts in God's own power enough to know that God can handle anything we mess up and make it right.  And even if we only have limited faith in the leadership of our churches, that's okay.  I trust that anything that we attempt and fail at, God can redeem.  I put my giving and my life into that attempt knowing that God not only leads us but keeps bringing us back when we stray.

Lord, Even our faith is a gift from you.  Give us faith enough to trust that even when the way is not clear you are guiding us.  Give us enough faith to give.  Amen


Copyright 2007, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at mspastor@aol.com.



The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI.  A lifelong Lutheran, she came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric intensive care.  She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 years in Upstate New York before becoming a New Englander.  She is still trying to understand the accent.  While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship Team.  That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more, what makes for generosity. She has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of life she learned from them.