Notes from the leadership journey!

Category Archives: Stewardship

Weems on Money

This past week, Joleen and I attended one of our remaining requirements for ordination, an all-day training day sponsored by the Board of Ordained Ministry. The day featured Dr. Lovett Weems from Wesley Theological Seminary. The topic was “Church Finances.”

Part of the content confirmed some things we already knew, but we did learn some new things, or at least, were challenged to rethink some things. Here is some of what we took away from the event …

  1. Change the way we communicate the church budget. Instead of publishing the line item budget, break it down into major categories. I’ve done this a couple times in the past (more in addition to than in place of the line item budget, though). Categories I normally use: (1) Shares of Ministry, (2) Benevolence, (3) Ministry, (4) Pastor & Staff, (5) Building & Grounds. We’d still announce that copies of the line item budget, which is approved by Church Council, are available upon request. The purpose is to give a simpler, more mission-focused presentation of the budget.
  2. A significant amount of discussion was on whether or not pastors should know what individual people give. Weems stated that most pastors are divided 50/50 on the issue. In our case, we’ve never chosen to know what individuals give, but Weems made a strong case that pastors should know.

    Weems offered other ways of getting a sense of the church’s pulse without knowing what individuals give (e.g., the financial secretary providing general info on things like, how many people gave less in the last year, how many gave more, how many started giving for the first time, etc.). The point is not really to know how much people give, but because handling money is a spiritual issue, it is an indicator of people’s spiritual condition. That’s why, Weems said, we should “Always tie money talk to our walk with God.”

  3. The death rate in the U.S. has been, and is expected to remain, pretty stable from 2003 through 2018, then increase dramatically through 2050. It’s estimated that there will be 50% more deaths in 2050 than in 2010. Clearly, this has implications for aging denominations like the UMC.
  4. Nationwide, church attendance held pretty steady (and strong) in the 1990s. Church attendance spiked for five Sundays after September 11, 2001, and then has been decreasing ever since.
  5. When it comes to attitude toward money, there are two kinds of churches: (1) Pay the Bills Churches and (2) Serve God’s Vision Churches (though no church is purely one or the other). I have always tried to lead churches to be the latter type! Weems said, “Discipleship and giving go hand in hand.”

Money is one of the topics pastors tend to fear the most talking about. Thankfully, it’s never been one of our fears. Joleen and I normally spend a few weeks each year talking about stewardship (which is the larger issue; it can deal with things other than money).

We are stewards of everything God entrusts us with, and it matters how we handle it!

5 Practices to Make the Most of Time

I’ve been writing about The Balancing Act by Bishop Robert Schnase (see “The Balancing Act” and Pray More Than Criticize). Bishop Schnase writes on “Redeeming Time.” By that, he means “making time sacred, useful to God, holy” (119). Schnase adds: … redeeming the time involves discovering the holy, gift-like quality, the grace of time. It…Continue →

Our Best Financial Practices

Joleen and I have been married 16.5 years. Looking back, we can list at least three financial practices that have proven valuable. 1. Honor God with tithes and offerings. Tithing wasn’t a new practice for either of us when we married, but we did develop a new system for the way we’d do it. Even…Continue →


In the monthly West Side UMC Stewardship newsletter, we have been looking at the twelve qualities of the Christian steward as presented by Rev. Phillis M. Bowers in the booklet, Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation: Stewardship. The next quality, which is appropriate in the midst of Advent/Christmas and as we begin the new year, is…Continue →

Involving Kids in Mission

In the days and weeks leading up to our first trip to Korea — and to becoming parents — we wrote about the kind of culture we wanted to create in our home and family life. Part of that included Shaping a Servant Culture. To help our children become servants and givers, we want to…Continue →

Stay on Track

I have noticed a number of commercials from Fidelity Investments lately. They’re the commercials with the green line on the ground that offers guidance and direction. Last week, one especially caught my attention. In the commercial, the financial advisor encourages the client that the plan they worked out for his retirement “makes sense” and that…Continue →

Stewardship Quality: Compassion

In Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation: Stewardship, Phyllis M. Bowers has outlined twelve qualities of the Christian steward. Rev. Bowers is the Executive Director of The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Central Pennsylvania. It is an honor for her work to be published in a denominational guide. Over the next year, we will take a…Continue →