Book Review - Money and Your Ministry
A Book Review of Money and Your Ministry
Reviewed by Chris Raines, member of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Germanton
You probably have heard the phrase, “money is the root of all evil.”
Yet, as Margaret Marcuson explains in her book Money and Ministry, money often stirs anxiety within churches.
Hopefully your church is mature in stewardship. Yet, as Marcuson explains, certain churches fear they don’t have enough money. In other churches, abundance causes angst because the members can’t decide between seemingly competing priorities -- new building programs or expanded outreach. Perhaps pastors like yourself are reluctant to preach about stewardship or broach financial issues out of fear of offending members. Perhaps, you or your church might have to confront (or has confronted) one of these situations presented by Marcuson:
- Offerings to your church have declined because, for instance, a large donor dies, many of your congregants have lost jobs or have less income;
- Congregants withhold offerings to express dissatisfaction with the church;
- Your church receives a large legacy or gift, in which the church or finance committee must decide between expanded missions and building projects;
- You rarely preach about stewardship and giving because you consider it one of your weaknesses or you’re not comfortable with the subject;
- The long-time, well-respected treasurer is suspected of misusing or embezzling church funds
- Your church is not as enthusiastic as you about seizing on an opportunity to fund a new building or undertake a mission program
Money and Your Ministry is not a “how-to” manual for preparing a budget or raising money. Instead, its seven chapters afford “big-picture” principles for you as a clergy member addressing these and other financial concerns and in leading your congregation toward Godly stewardship.
Marcuson reminds us in the first chapter that all we have -- including our money -- comes from and belongs to God. She describes how the Bible and historically the church have addressed money. The next six chapters explore your role as pastor in church stewardship, the causes of financial anxiety and conflicts, whether and how you consider the effects your church’s budget decisions and stewardship practices on paid staff, your own salary and mission programs; and how you can better lead in stewardship by understanding your church’s (and your family’s) legacy of handling money (Chapter 5) and tending to you own finances (Chapter 6).
Pay special attention to how Marcuson describes your role in leading stewardship and strategies for effectively handling conflicts. Her view - that you’re to guide the congregation rather than “will” them to a destination -- can apply to your overall leadership of your church.
Special thanks to David Greene, pastor, of First United Methodist Church of Newton for suggesting this read.
Other suggested readings: