In September 2013 a small group of Moravian clergy from the Northern and Southern Provinces gathered in Winston-Salem to discuss the important connection between money and ministry. We later asked those pastors to reflect on the conversation, and Rev. Russell Williams shared these thoughts:
"It was great to see pastors from all over the U.S. come together and talk about a very important aspect of our ministries: money. I believe the biggest proponents of fostering generosity and gratitude in our congregations are communication and thanksgiving. Most churches do not do a well enough job of communicating their needs for particular ministries. As we discussed most people have a hard time justifying a pastor's salary/insurance/housing allowance/expense reimbursements/etc. as "ministry". So, instead of letting such mindsets exist in the church, communicate in exact detail how those expenses create, sustain and enhance ministries of the church. For example, a simple statement such as, "The pastor's expense reimbursement line item is for him/her to take a prospective family wishing to join the church to dinner". Or, "Our pastor is paid $_____ to do the following things (and be as specific as possible using X amount of hours doing this for this ministry, etc.)". Communication is the greatest tool for a congregation who has a hard time understanding the validity of certain expenses the church must incur. Furthermore, communicating with the congregation about exactly how their money is being used in all areas of the church's life helps foster more generosity. Here at Moravian, at the end of the Treasurer's Report in the newsletter, I make sure there is a statement of gratitude for the congregation's generosity but also take the time to explain a certain church expense and how it directly benefits a ministry of Moravia. "Because of your tithes and offerings this month, we were able to provide a warm, safe place for our youth to participate in a lock-in. At this lock-in, the youth made plans for the upcoming winter to visit the homeless people in Greensboro and hand out Bibles with a $10 gift card inside. They also decided...". Especially when the youth are mentioned, the congregation is more in tune with how the "utilities" expense directly affects the ministry of the church.
The second proponent of generosity is thanksgiving. People love being thanked. Period. And, thanksgiving prompts more giving...out of thanks. You see? It really is self-explanatory, but often overlooked because it presents the pastor with "something else to do". Well, that "something else to do" is only going to enhance and grow what we're already doing. Besides, whoever said the ministry was about sitting in the office all week?
Communication and thanksgiving. It works; I promise. I've seen it."