by Ken Walker of ChurchCentral.com
Dick Towner, executive director of the Good $ense financial ministry at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, says pastors shoot themselves in the foot by reducing the topic to an annual plea for more money.
"One friend calls it the lamentation of desperation for the church budget," Towner says. "In large measure the church has failed to teach on stewardship. Materialism has won the day in the hearts and minds of people."
Towner sees various factors at work in the church’s failure to teach about stewardship, starting with most seminaries neglecting the subject.
In addition, he says many pastors are uncomfortable discussing money, either because of modest salaries or high educational debt that leaves them struggling to pay their bills.
They also face potential opposition from congregants who are either ignorant of how often the Bible addresses the topic or guilt over their own lack of giving. Yet, two-thirds of Christ’s parables concern money or possessions, Towner says.
"Materialism is a theological subject," Towner says. "It teaches that ultimate reality is in physical reality and everything can be explained by it. It’s a god of good news that (says), ‘Things bring happiness.’"
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