Fight Club?

what-is-silent-birth-lips-2160x1200“Money is like fight club, we don’t talk about it.”

This was a statement made by a colleague during a stewardship seminar at Union Presbyterian Seminary this past spring. With my thoughts on the upcoming stewardship season, this thought rings loud and true in my memory.

If someone had asked me what my thoughts were about money and the Church four years ago, I likely would have proudly stated that individuals will give as they feel called, but we shouldn’t put our focus on money and instead focus on volunteers and other gifts within our congregations. After working as part of a rather large capital campaign for three years, however, I have a bit of a different outlook.

In the South, generally speaking, it is not proper to speak of money. We don’t talk about how much we make or how much we spend (unless it was a great sale at Belk!) and we definitely don’t talk about how much we give to our churches. That type of thing is between us and God, right?

What if we do talk about it though? What if we explain our spending and investing to our children so that they better understand why they can’t have that toy or the family can’t go on that vacation? What if we talk about money in a way that prepares our children for real life, for when they have to make a life changing financial decision? What if we explained why we give what we do to the church and other organizations and taught out children to think critically about their future investments in similar organizations?

Thinking outside of our front door, what if we share more about why we give to certain organizations?  Or why we don’t give? What if we post about our excitement to invest in an organization as much as we post about our displeasure in current events?

More than numbers, I believe people are interested in stories. More than ‘yes’ and `no`, our children need explanations. We avoid money talk and favor time and talents; we avoid money talk in search for easy answers.

This isn’t to say that we should only focus on money, but we shouldn’t make it out to be an evil which we can function without.

I wish our time and talents could completely repair the broken HVac or feed the crowded fellowship hall. I wish our prayers could fill the food pantry and repair the church van. The fact of the matter though is that we do need money to function, even if it is to simply buy materials so that time and talents can be put to work.

This stewardship season, don’t be afraid to talk about money directly. Church is not fight club. Share why you give, encourage parents to talk about it with their children. Hear stories and seek to answer questions. Take in all time and talents cards that you can, but don’t gloss over the fact that more is needed.

Very few people will give if they are not asked. I don’t know many who will give if they have no reason to. Where we invest our money is important and sets an example for others, the problem is that one cannot understand the example until it is explained.

We claim that money is personal, yet we show it in so many ways – how we dress, where we eat, what we drive, and even the phones we talk on. Isn’t it about time that we speak openly so that we can both  learn from and encourage others in the ways that we invest our money?

How do you encourage your congregation to speak openly about their financial investments in the Church?

How do you teach and encourage these open discussions in your home?

Rev. Jordan B. davis, ’14

Transitional Associate Pastor

Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

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What Are You Offering?

21433257_10103276376781711_3289283414941878623_nEarlier this summer, my husband and I took the crazy and bold jump to adopt a second cat, Jasmine. It has been an incredible adventure as we introduce her to our older cat, Cali, and learn what life is with a kitten (something I experienced with Cali, however my husband missed). In addition to the headaches, the hissing, and the cuddles, I have also learned some interesting lessons from this new life.

Earlier this week, I set about picking up toys that Jasmine had brought upstairs overnight. This is a habit we laugh about regularly as we take notice of repeat toys, and ones that should have been difficult to bring. We take note of their locations – her favorite toys are in the bed, right between my husband and me, while the socks, elastics, and other toys cover the distance from our room to the stairs.

As I chuckled at the choices Jasmine had made that particular night, I began to think about why she chooses what she does and how she determines where to drop them (because why wouldn’t she think this through, as well?).  Researchers say that cats offer toys (and animals) as gifts; it might be the one self-less thing they do! Jasmine has made a practice of offering us gifts of her most prized toys. It seems she wants to share the best with us, but also doesn’t want to limit what she offers (including the plastic tab from the milk jug, always one of my favorites and one that makes me laugh through the entire day!).  It is her way of expressing love and joy.  It is her way of inviting us into the fun!

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Now, this isn’t just about my cats. This is about us – congregational leaders and parishioners alike. Can we learn something from the way that our pets offer their toys and lives to us? The offering of gifts from cats and the unconditional love of dogs – these are things that we might do best to take notice of.

What if we were to offer our very best to God, not just on Sunday but day-in and day-out?  What if we didn’t just bring our best, but also everything else that we have? Offering not just our money on Sunday, but offering our gifts of love, of grace, of mercy for one another every day to the one who has shown us the greatest love, grace, and mercy there is – isn’t that what it is all about, anyway?

I think about Abraham offering Isaac; I think of the offering of the first fruits; I think of the woman offering her single coin; I think of Christ offering his life; I think of God offering God’s Son. Offering their best, their only. Taking their greatest gift, and their least, to the one who gives so much more.

We are quickly approaching the common time for stewardship campaigns. Some will talk about planting seeds or 20/20 vision. Others will come up with other creative ways to help congregations think about giving money (oh, and time and talents, right?).  However you approach it, I encourage every congregation to think not just about our best gifts, but also those socks and hair ties, the plastic milk jug rings pulled from the trash, that are left at the top of the stairs. Not quite good enough to bring to the bed, but still worth offering.

What are you offering to God today?
What are you leaving behind that might delight God even more than your favorite toy?

                                            Rev. Jordan B. Davis ‘14
Associate Pastor, Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian
Cary, NC