When we talk about stewardship of our resources, we mostly think about our finances, our dollars. Stewardship drives in congregations are usually all about money. How much are you able to pledge? Can you increase your pledge this year?
However, our resources are so much more. I attended a Southwest Conference Boundaries Training a week ago on the topic of resources. Our facilitator asked us to name our resources — what resources do we have as Pastors.
It got me thinking, what resources do we have as communities of faith to support our ministry, our work for the Realm of God?
money — financial giving
time — volunteer time of the members of the congregation
That is usually as far as we go in contemplating our resources. But there are more...
Resources we have and don’t think of as resources:
Authority, Power and Privilege
The expertise of our congregation members — such as teachers, social workers, lawyers, etc.
Resources we ignore:
How we are known in the community: My ordaining congregation was known as “that liberal Baptist church” in a white conservative suburb of Philadelphia. This label actually worked well for the congregation. It freed them to be fully themselves. It definitely lead progressives in the area to their door. However, many of us ignore how we are named, identified or thought of in our communities. When we don’t it can be a powerful resource for getting the word out about our ministries.
Trust. It used to be that churches were places of trust. You walked in the door and expected to be welcomed. You could trust that no harm would come — whether that was actually true or not. Churches were trusted.
However, we live in a time when the Catholic Church is no longer trusted — too much child sexual abuse and misconduct by priest covered up by the institution. We live in a time when queer community has and continues to experience spiritual abuse in the name of Christianity — done by evangelical conservative, alt-right. Both of these experiences have shadowed the Trust that congregations and churches were outrightly given.
Having acknowledged the harm the church can do, there is still a deeply level of trust that the Church will not do harm. When someone walks in the door to visit a church, they are trusting that they will be welcomed, embraced, heard, not harmed.
Trust is a resource that we have and can build upon. What if St Paul’s was known as the progressive safe (trustworthy) community of faith in Rio Rancho? Would that not be a tremendous resource for us?
I have named a few resources to get you thinking.
What resources would you add to this list?
How would you like St Paul’s to be ‘thought’ of in Rio Rancho?
How does Rio Rancho know St Paul’s? Does it know us at all?
What resources are we ignoring?