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Recently I was at a nationwide conference on giving and philanthropy. One of the panel discussions included the CEO of Mariott, Arne Sorenson, who was available to answer questions about his views on faith and giving. Sorenson is a good Lutheran. He shared that Mariott, and all its hotel chains, provide lodging for hundreds of thousands of guests every night. This is a big business, generating more than $22 billion dollars in revenue annually.

One of his comments stuck with me. He said, “When money becomes the reason, bad things will generally start to happen.” In other words, when we worry more over the cash than the mission, more over the budget than the guests, more over the receipts than the employees, it isn’t long before the mission, the guests, and the employees begin to suffer. The hotel business is not about the money, it is about focusing on service, guests, and those who make it happen. Make that better. Money will come.

Can I get an “amen” from all you church leaders out there? We have seen it. “When money becomes the reason, bad things will generally start to happen.” When we neglect discipleship, service, and sharing the good news it isn’t long before our mission suffers. Giving naturally goes down. Then we spend meetings talking more about the money than the mission. A vicious circle begins of less money, more money-meeting time, which produces less money, which produces more money-meeting time.

There are short-term fixes for money struggles, but “short-term” is the operative word. The answer to raising more money is not to let it become the reason. Keep your energy and focus on your church’s mission and priorities. Do them better. Of course, for some of us that means we are going to have to get some missional priorities. That is OK. Spend some time in your next meeting talking about that.

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Glenn Howell
Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana

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