Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

The Congregational Money Profile: The Stories Behind the Numbers

Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

The Congregational Money Profile: The Stories Behind the Numbers

Article excerpt

Editors' Note

Connie Kleingartner intended this congregational resource to appear in an easy-to-distribute pamphlet. She ended the essay with a footnote inviting church leaders to contact her to share their experiences of using the Congregational Money Profile tool and to make suggestions for improving it. The Tithing and Stewardship Foundation staff invites and encourages input on the use of such tools in working with congregations ( as the staff seeks to develop creative and useful resources for church leaders and congregations.

"Then why do we need to really believe that God is leading us and will always be there for us?" Martha retorted curtly to Harry's statement, "Good stewards need to manage their money well and always count the cost before beginning a new ministry." And, so, the congregation council fight continued along familiar and well-worn lines of argument between two dedicated and faithful leaders. Harry, who had grown up during the Depression, knew what was necessary to live through hard times. He also remembered the time the congregation almost had to close its doors because "some fools" had convinced the congregation to go ahead and re-side the church building and trust that the money would come in. On the other hand, Martha was convinced that if it was God's will, faith demanded that people step out in faith. After long discussions and much prayer between her and her husband, she had just resigned from a management job to stay home and take care of their newborn twins, and her family was making it just fine. Besides, if the congregation waited for all the details of each new ministry to be worked out before it was started--like the "sticks in the mud" wanted--the church for her would be dead.

Harry and Martha's debate represented the place the congregation seemed to always "get stuck" in money discussions. It is the place where members often started to quote Scripture at one another and talk to, rather than with, one another. What is often missing in such debates is the discussion beneath the discussion--a discussion of values, different views of the role of money in our individual lives and our life together, and the signs of faithful stewardship practices. Often people do not have the words and are not practiced in articulating core beliefs at this level of discussion. This is where doing a Congregational Money Profile (CMP) can be useful. It is a simple, engaging, and interactive way to get to know a congregation's history and its attitudes toward money, finance, and stewardship.

The CMP uses systems and narrative theories of leadership to help a congregation and its individual members name and explore the patterns of how they manage both human resources and financial resources. It gives voice to the stories behind myriad numbers which surround the human resources and dollars involved in congregational life. It is a simple way to unveil the different core values and understandings of the role of money that exist among congregational members. Creating a CMP can be a fun way to begin conversations about stewardship. This is also an easy way for a pastor who is new to a congregation to quickly learn about congregational attitudes toward ministry and stewardship.

Preparing for the Event

The first step in the planning process is for pastors to read through the process presented in this essay three or four times in order to become familiar with it. The second step is to recruit volunteers to assist in the CMP process. Volunteers are needed in three areas: food serving, children's education and care, and leading the process.

The CMP is designed to work in conjunction with a simple meal that includes three distinct courses: appetizers, entree, and dessert. Although those attending may help provide the food, a separate group of three to four servers should be recruited to set-up and serve the food. These volunteers will not be able to participate in the process during the evening in which they help serve food. …

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