My Pastor, My Money and Why We’re Not Talking can be used to encourage dialogue and understanding between clergy and persons with wealth. This is not a book about how pastors and church leaders can tap into getting more financial support for the church or religious organizations. Rather, the objective is to encourage pastors to attend to the pastoral care needs of their constituents who happen to be wealthy. As this book explains, there are several mistakes that can create barriers for good pastoral care.
This study guide proposes three major approaches on how to allow the book, My Pastor, My Money, and Why We’re Not Talking to jumpstart a dialogue that will lead to better pastoral care among the affluent. The three areas are personal development, pastoral initiatives, and lay coaching.
A major benefit from this book is that it calls for the reader to examine his or her relationship to the subject of pastoral care and wealth. The following exercises are offered to facilitate this examination:
What is my earliest memory of wealth and what being wealthy means? At what age did I have this experience and what were the circumstances around this event? Who was the “teacher”? What did I learn? What was I conditioned to believe about wealth?
Who was the wealthiest relative or friend in my childhood? How did I feel about that person? How did I feel about myself around them? How did they obtain their wealth?
Was I affected in a negative or positive way by their wealth?
How did this relative or friend manage their wealth around others? Were they stingy, hording, greedy? Were they benevolent, giving, and sharing?
How did I consider myself in my childhood? Did I see myself as wealthy, average, or poor? How do I see myself presently? Am I wealthy, average, or poor?
Imagine for a moment that I am in another economic bracket, i.e., I am now wealthy, or I am now average or I am now poor. How different is my life now that I am in another economic bracket?
Who would remain my friends and family? Would I change my daily activities and how? What do I think would now be my three biggest worries or concerns in this new economic bracket?
At what times in my life, if any, have I felt wealthier than those around me? What were my feelings about this sense of wealth at that time and what are my feelings now?
Let’s look at sudden wealth. How would my life change if I received a windfall that placed me in a financial bracket that is ten times larger than where I am now? Let’s look at long‐term wealth. Suppose I became the recipient of an expected and planned large inheritance and I am the fourth generation in succession to receive this wealth handed down. What do I think would be my three biggest concerns?
Two approaches are suggested for pastors wishing to take the initiative in starting dialogue and delivering pastoral care to those who are affluent. The initiative can be a one‐on‐one private conversation. The pastor can also take the initiative through a group process. Both processes are outlined as follows:
Private one‐on‐one initiative: This approach suggests that you as the pastor should take the role of student and the affluent assumes the role of the teacher/mentor. The steps are outlined in the book but repeated and clarified here. The first step for the pastor is to read the book and reflect on its contents by exploring some of the questions raised in the personal development section described above. The second step is to present a second copy of the book, not your personal marked‐up copy, but a new copy, to a person with whom you would like to begin honest conversation. The presentation might go something like this: “Mary, I could use your help. I have been reading this small book and I find that it raises some interesting opinions that I would like to discuss with you. I would like to give you this copy and ask you to read it and then give me your opinion of what this author has to say. Perhaps we can talk about it privately over a cup of coffee or lunch sometime next week.”
At the scheduled meeting to discuss the book, you might begin the conversation along these lines. “Mary thanks for taking the time to read what Dr. Moon says about pastors and money and conversations. I would like your opinion about what he says. What do think about what he has written? Is he on target?” From that point forward, listen to what is shared, including the questions you are asked, such as why she was selected, why you are interested in this subject, etc. This is the time to be open and sincere in your own journey and to hear her journey as well. Take the time to listen to what is being said, and also to what is not being said. Leave the dialogue open. Look for what resonates positively and what kicks up anger or frustration. Use this dialogue as your learning experience. Hopefully it is a teachable moment and you are the student. A good leading question at some point in the dialogue might be, “Mary, what would you like me to know about this subject?” Or “Mary, what can I do to be a better pastor to your specific needs?”
Examples of additional questions are:
“How do you feel when I preach about subjects or Scripture passages that have to do with money? …with poverty? ..with giving?”
“How well am I connecting with your concerns?”
The Group Initiative: Another process might be to have a special gathering of people to discuss the book in a group setting or book study. A few words of caution are noteworthy here. First, persons of wealth usually do not wish to be singled out. Therefore, your promotion of the event should avoid any implications that this is a group meeting for ‘rich people’. There are several reasons for why the affluent are resistance to such an appeal. First, most wealthy people do not consider themselves to be wealthy. They might feel comfortable; take pride in being frugal, fiscally conservative, unusually blessed, and perhaps successful, but not ‘wealthy’. Second, persons of wealth may not be as inclined to discuss openly and frankly their concerns and struggles. This is part of the challenge with serving the affluent. Therefore, do not be surprised to discover that some group discussions might be quite superficial or unproductive because the participants are not open and forthcoming. Third, there can be a level of suspicion about such a gathering as a means toward some hidden agenda, such as a plea for more resources or philanthropy. These three areas of caution can be addressed through personal invitations with clear agendas.
If the meeting is going to be open to anyone, promote it as a book study to explore the book by title, e.g. Examining the concepts of Robert Moon’s book, My Pastor, My Money, and Why We’re Not Talking.
If the meeting is intended for a small private group of invited attendees, make the invitation obvious that the meeting is by invitation only and who is being invited to discuss the book. Underscore that the discussion of the book is the agenda.
Another approach might be to use the book as a training tool for a committee that has been assigned to a task that relates to the subject. This book could provide good insight and education for a stewardship leadership committee or capital campaign workers. The point of the committee review of the book is to provide an educational moment to teach that the affluent are frequently turned off by being the target for solving the church’s financial challenges.
In all cases, copies of the book need to be available and read by the participants as a prerequisite for the discussion.
A suggested discussion outline for a group setting would be to discuss each of the six mistakes in order as they are presented in the book.
Present the opportunity for everyone’s response and for those responses to be received without judgment. It is absolutely appropriate for the participants to express judgment positively or negatively toward the author.
The group meeting can have one (or more) stated objectives such as:
Some Group Exercises:
Name and list on a flip chart or whiteboard some of the events in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) where someone approached Jesus to address their financial poverty.
Name and list some of the events in the Gospels where someone approached Jesus to address some issue about their financial wealth, estate, or taxes.
What is your perception of how rich people were characterized in the Gospel stories?
When you think of the words “pastor” and “money” together, what are the first thoughts to come to your mind?
As explained in the book, parishioners share in both the creation of the gap and as well as the opportunity to bridge the gap between the clergy and the persons of wealth. One of the great gifts parishioners can give to their clergy is through coaching and mentoring. In such cases, it can be the parishioner who takes the initiative to start bridging the gap of communication and understanding. In a similar manner as the pastor taking the initiative, the affluent person can begin the dialogue by requesting a time to discuss the book together after both have read a copy and made their own notes of reflection and response.
Note of Ongoing Research:
The author, Robert Moon, considers this book to be an ongoing project and therefore welcomes feedback. This study guideline will be continuously revised and updated as results are received. You are encouraged to communicate with Robert via email or letter to share your own discoveries on what is working and not working. His E‐mail address is RMoon@HeritageFinLLC.com. Mailing address is Robert Moon, 7001 Heritage Village Plaza, Suite 190, Gainesville, VA, 20155.
Seminars, Workshops, and Presentations:
Robert is also available to conduct more extensive presentations on this subject ranging from a single speaking event to several hour workshops and continuing education. He can be contacted in writing through the information provided above, via telephone at 703-754-1233 or through the contact page.
Copyright © by Robert Moon.
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