Tuesday, October 21, 2008


So this stewardship guy gets up and chides the seminaries for not teaching stewardship, suggesting that this is the reason our offerings are low. I'm sitting in the back of the room thinking, Nope.

I don't preach stewardship sermons. Ever. You know, the standard "Look at all Jesus has done for you, now what are you going to give Him in return?" I've always had a sense that your basic stewardship sermon is really a neatly disguised (or not-so-neatly, if you've heard it all before) plea for cash. The old "time, talents, and treasures" outline was really nothing but a ruse. You knew you were really only shooting for that last one about the treasures. The time and talents part was a way of trying to convince people that the whole stewardship gig was really oh, so much more than money. Bah. It's all about money, and who is being fooled?

Anyhow, I don't preach them. Once long ago, a fellow pastor, on hearing me say this, complained, "Well, what are you going to replace them with?!" To which I, having just seen the old black-and-white Luther film with a similar scene, replied, "Christ!"

But to return to the point, there was a false premise in this guy's question. I don't know about you, but our offerings are not low. I mean, overall they're not anything great, because our parish is rather small, but when that factor is taken into account, our people do quite well, I'd say. And why? Because they love their parish. They rejoice over the preaching of Christ in their church. They want to see their church thrive and the Gospel to be given free course, to the joy and edifying of Christ's holy people.

Eat your heart out, stewardship guy. I don't preach stewardship sermons. And my people are really exemplary in their offerings. Can you explain that? I can.


chaplain7904 said...

Here, here Fr. E.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head! Our congregation has always been (reasonably) in the black. My stewardship campaign goes like this: I casually tell the Bible Class, "You keep us in the black and I promise never to preach a stewardship sermon." Any appeals for money are done by the officers of the congregation for specific purposes: e.g. "we need to put new siding on the church. It will cost $XXXX. You can mark your checks and envelopes 'Building fund.'"
To be fair, I have heard members describing stewardship sermons that were inspiring rather than guilt inducing, but the lectionary offers us ample opportunity to address these issues without the dreaded, "special sermon series."

Anonymous said...

The dirty little secret is that every Christian sermon is really a stewardship sermon. When I'm preaching faith and love, I'm preaching stewardship. So every Sunday is really stewardship Sunday.

Gee, I hope I didn't ruin the preaching experience for you guys. :-)

Rev. Tom Fast

Rev. Benjamin Mayes said...

My congregation's even smaller than yours, and we could really use the time and talents. So if you want to send any of yours our way, that would be welcome. Sorry, we won't be sending the treasure to you.


Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Truth be told, "talents" are units of money, Biblically speaking.

And, as the saying goes, time is money.

So there you are: time, talents, and treasure are really money, money, and money.

Anonymous said...

Hey, quit your whining, Mayes.

My congregation has budgeted a $100,000 deficit. Yes, you read that correctly. Even if our giving of money, money, money meets our expectations, we'll still be 100k in the hole. So if any of these prosperity preachers like rev.fr.burnell f. eckardt have any money, money, money left over at the end of the fiscal year, they need to send it our way, first. If we have any left over after that, I'll toss you a few coins.

Rev. Tom Fast

Rev. James Leistico said...

the timing of this couldn't have been better. I received the latest propaganda from 1333 S. Kirkwood. And while the first issue of "Faith Aflame" protests against thinking of stewardship in terms of money, the two pictures contain such things as a checkbook, a calculator and envelopes. I would have assumed the envelopes and calculator were involved in bill paying - but since this newsletter's words encourage us to stop equating stewardship with money, the calculator must be there so the lady can figure out how to be a better manager of her time. And the envelopes? They must be on their way to the kindling pile, since being a good steward of creation, she would want to send as little garbage as possible to the landfill.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

"prosperity preachers like rev.fr.burnell f. eckardt"

What the h*ll is this supposed to mean? Read the post. I never said anything about our parish being prosperous. In fact I said that our offerings are "not anything great," because of the size of our parish. We struggle to make budget just like everyone else. We are quite poor, I assure you.

But since you seem to be too thick to get the point, let me flesh it out: in a faithful parish, the people who are most exemplary in their giving are not doing so out of guilt, or out of the "time, talents, treasure" claptrap which you might prefer; they are doing it because they love to hear the Gospel. Stewardship emphases are generally misguided and obfuscatory.

Put another way, when I was a layman I dreaded stewardship Sunday, because I knew I would scarcely be hearing about Christ.

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Oh, and anyone who thinks "Jesus died for you, so now out of love for Him, give to Him" isn't really about guilt does not understand human nature.

Such an approach is really saying this: "Shame on you! Jesus did all that for you! And all you can do for Him is give a few dollars??! Shame, shame!" It's all about guilt.

Not that there isn't a place for guilt, mind you; but it shouldn't be disguised as a stewardship emphasis, and it certainly shouldn't replace the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

I promise you, I wasn't serious. I was trying to be humorous. Please, don't be offended. I actually agree with what you wrote. Furthermore Pastor Mayes is a young pastor/scholar whom I know and for whom I also have an enormous amount of respect. I would never seriously say "quit your whining" to him. It was all a little tongue in cheek. Perhaps, more accurately, it turned out to be foot-in-mouth.

Sorry for the miscommunication. I was just having a little fun.


Tom Fast
PS--all that said, I still maintain that every Sunday is stewarship Sunday. Learn to embrace the horror. :-) (please note the smiley face)

Anonymous said...

I'm a subscriber to Gottesdienst. Would it help patch things up if I gave it a plug?

Rev. Tom Fast

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Yes, by all means, give it a plug. That should offset the 100 years of purgatory you ran up by your goofy comment . . .


Anonymous said...

Well, here goes...

Gottesdienst is an outstanding theological journal. If you haven't subscribed, you really ought to do so. If you already have a subscription, there's nothing wrong with renewing it, post-haste.

When a coin in the Gottesdienst box rings, another soul from purgatory springs.

Tom Fast

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...


Subscribe click here.

O.H. Lee said...

As a seminarian, I guess I don't know what it means that the sem "[doesn't teach] stewardship." Was he meaning to say that our profs don't tell us the means by which we get folks to fork over the cash?

Rev.Fr.Burnell F Eckardt said...

Good question, actually. I'm not entirely sure what he meant by that.

What I am sure of is that the stewardship guy didn't seem to have much of a clue how it really works.

Herr B. said...

It's all fine and well if your congregation's in the black, but what if the offering doesn't cover basic expenses? What then?

Rev. Fast, i appreciate your budget shortfall. What are you doing in this situation? Are you cutting back? Obviously you can't spend money that you don't have. How long can a congregation not meet its budget before it has t close?

I'm just looking for practical ideas. Surely there must be good ways to ask for money. Or am i looking at it the wrong way? I just want the everyday bills to be paid.

David Bentlage