I used to live in Southern Indiana. In much of that part of the state, roads are not straight, but follow the contours of the hills and valleys. One night, as I was returning home from a meeting, the road was so foggy that my headlights only travelled a few feet. The thicker it got, the more I slowed down. I would have stopped entirely if I wasn’t afraid someone would come from behind and crash into my rear bumper. Obviously, because I didn’t SEE, I didn’t TRUST. And because I didn’t TRUST, my foot spent more hitting the brake than GIVING it the gas.
There is a correlation between SEEING, TRUSTING, and GIVING. Sometimes we forget that. In a lot of churches people are in a fog regarding the church’s financial picture. No one has explained the money, where it is, where it is going, how it got where it got, and who decides where it goes. It may be that someone has given funds meant for one thing, and now those monies have gotten co-mingled into other accounts, creating the fog of confusion—and it becomes easier to cover the eyes than clear the air.
Sometimes, well-meaning leaders intentionally won’t disclose large pockets of money, thinking it will keep folk from giving, or at least keep them from reaching their hand in the pot. They protect money by fogging over the view of it.
What all this fails to realize is that fog doesn’t protect or motivate giving—it keeps more from coming. I would certainly not give to a congregation that had cloudy practices or shady reporting. On the other hand, the more I trusted the picture I received, the more I would be comfortable giving. It just makes sense.
We need transparency. That means folks can SEE what is happening with finances. When people can see they will TRUST. When people TRUST they will GIVE. Friends, be open about money. The leaders need to see everything and share everything—with anybody who asks. Communication about money should be regular and accurate. Questions from members should be asked for and answered. Mistakes from the past need to be acknowledged and apologies given. Clear the air. Open the window. Let folks see. It will yield benefits both for the offering plate and for the fellowship of those who put money in it.
SEEING, TRUSTING, GIVING. How is your church doing?
For more information about stewardship and the care of money, contact us here or call us toll free at 877-391-8811.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana