We need to talk about money, says Fred Robinson – imaginatively and generously
Churches talk quite a lot about money. That’s not surprising, given that many have financial worries. They may be struggling to pay the bills. A leaking roof or toppling spire can easily turn into a financial crisis and frantic fundraising – or even closure. Churches need money, not just to meet their own needs but to support their wider mission and other charities. When we celebrate the offertory, we are reminded that money matters.
But actually I don’t think we talk about money enough. Or perhaps I should say that our conversations about money are too limited, too constrained by an excessive respect for money. The Bible is full of stories and insights about money: think of the moneychangers in the Temple, the parable of the talents, the labourers in the vineyard. But we don’t seem to get inspired by scripture when we draw up the church budget. We seem overwhelmingly focused on keeping the show on the road. Above all, we’re intent on following secular convention and balancing the books. If that critique sounds a bit radical, then maybe I’ve made my point about the narrowness of our thinking.
So, what should we be thinking about and talking about? A good starting point is to ask ourselves where our ‘treasure’ is invested – and what that says about where our heart is. What are we doing with our church’s money, wealth, assets?..
Fred Robinson is Professorial Fellow at St Chad’s College, Durham University. His recent work on churches and money has been supported by a William Leech Research Fellowship
This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2022 edition of Reform