Gloom and Doom Stewardship
It’s just a rite of passage for every American church to be ever vigilant in their search for the perfect and latest stewardship campaign. We want to be on top of things and build a measure of financial security. Why won’t our members give to help our church budget?
What a tragedy that so many churches will automatically resort to the “Doom & Gloom” approach to resolving their financial woes. Tell the people how bad it is and of course they will start giving more – it’s only logical. Such thinking verifies who the “number crunchers” are. They have no sense of how to motivate people; only that the numbers are not tallying properly. Their minds simply do not traverse that territory of people. Raw numbers is as far as they dare. After all, numbers don’t talk back. You can control numbers.
The result is a very depressed congregation. What else could be expected from a steady diet of Doom & Gloom? And when depression besieges the spirit of the community people behave in irritable ways. Now the finger pointing and blame will increase. Grumbling and complaining will be the normal conversation tone. Committee chairs will deflect blame shifting the responsibility over to someone else. Typically, the Pastor is favorite target #1.
The results of pessimism are never good. It never motivates. The best one can hope is to manipulate through guilt and shame. In fact pessimism is the perfect anti-faith assault. Nothing will ruin a church more effectively than pessimism.
Its catch phrases are,
- It will never work
- Things are falling apart, c. Nietzsche
- Abandon all hope ye who enter here, c. Dante
- Let us curse God and die, c. Job’s wife
- The sky is falling! The sky is falling, c. Chicken Little
And it may get worse from there if it goes on too long – if anyone is left.
Question for thought: How many people were lined up to board the Titanic “after” it struck the iceberg?
You know the answer to that silly question, but do you see the connection? That’s exactly what you are asking people to do when Doom & Gloom is the driving motivation of church stewardship. Seriously, who wants to give/invest their money into a lost cause? If they used these dismal strategies to try to sell people on investing in a restaurant do you think it stands a chance of surviving?
I know of this restaurant that is falling apart, no one is happy there, everything is just plain awful and little hope can be found anywhere. Now, who wants to invest their hard earned money into this opportunity? This is what people are hearing from the Doom and Gloom number crunchers.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6
The next and final step, if things are not stopped is Self-fulfilling results. They preach depressing doom, sowing the seeds of hopelessness and reap empty and failed consequences. They have manufactured their own failure. What else could they possibly expect?
Truth is, they were not thinking about the consequences. Remember, number crunchers do not always understand the human factor. Some are quite oblivious that humans are even a part of the process. Church administration is not part of their accounting training. This is why a good Pastor must find a way to intervene in the process. Forgive the arrogant sound, but you just have to save them from themselves. Who was it who said “forgive them for they know not what they do?” They are trying and have a desire to turn things around, at least to get those numbers harmonizing, but motivating people requires an entirely different tact.
The results we seek are fellowship, health and security. The way we get there is by the people desiring the vision. When they realize that they are building a place for love, acceptance, finding God, healing, hope – it’s these goals that motivate people. Now you are talking about a boat that floats and has promise of taking them places where they want to go. You must give them something worth their time and effort. Paint the vision and keep touching it up every Sunday (vision leaks, you know). “This is the church we are building” ought to be a side note in every sermon. The invitation is always open to become a part of making that vision a reality.
Again, we are talking about reality. The Doom & Gloomers will automatically protest that we cannot pretend nothing is wrong. Really, is that our only two options — depression or denial?
Present the reality and if there is urgency be sure to “always” balance painful numbers with an expression of hope. “It may be challenging right now, but we can do it.” “Hope” is our number one tool. Use it often; it’s spiritually motivated because that’s how faith finds its strength.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for
and assurance about what we do not see.”
Blessedly, the solution to overcoming financial distress is through the paradox of returning to the priorities of the church. Jesus has a great idea with church life. Start “doing” the work of Christian fellowship and you will discover a very natural attraction in human nature. People truly need what the church has to offer, providing the church is doing what it is supposed to be doing. When people follow their own agendas for control or stubbornly live their lives in past glory (AKA Nostalgia), that is not the church. Be the church of Jesus Christ and they will come.