Last week, Rev. Anna Ostenso Moore described her journey to “yes…and stewardship.” This week, Anna describes her wise, winding path toward claiming stewardship’s implications for Christian community. I’m grateful to Anna for inviting us, as readers, along for this journey.
Adam Copeland, Center for Stewardship Leaders
A Holy Process towards Stewardship Speaking: Part 2
Anna V. Ostenso Moore
As I mentioned in my previous article, I was recently invited to be a guest stewardship preacher for the first time. This invitation included giving three talks to different groups within the faith community. Most of my guest preaching has been lectionary-based rather than thematic, so this was an opportunity to find my voice while preparing for stewardship preaching.
Following My Curiosity
After reviewing expectations with church leadership — such as schedule, program, theme, texts, and liturgy — I focused on what I was most interested in learning about stewardship. I read intriguing articles from a variety of sources, including this publication, Building Faith, and Backstory Preaching. I paid more attention to everyday money conversations around me, engaged in Facebook group discussions, and listened to lectures and podcasts, including helpful episodes from HerMoney and Crackers & Grape Juice.
Following my curiosity made preparation a joy, rather than a slog, and helped me maintain energy for further discovery.
This encouraged me to network with people whom I barely knew, wonder about money in spiritual direction, ask the opinions of colleagues, and bring up questions within my family regarding money and generosity. Some conversations were scheduled, some were spontaneous, and they varied from minutes to hours. As an an extrovert who often experiences God and Holy Wisdom through interactions with other people, this networking was essential to my process and growth.
One of my central preaching preparation practices is walking around my neighborhood as I consider my research and personal story. For stewardship, I specifically pondered:
- Who has most influenced my thoughts and feelings about money?
- Which memorable moments shaped my beliefs around money?
- Where do I struggle and where do I feel confident in my practices of generosity?
As I continued to weave these threads, three guiding ideas came together:
- The assigned gospel passage would be our touchstone.
- My purpose as a guest was to invite people into personal reflection and communal conversation about money and stewardship.
- The primary takeaway: giving and sharing our resources are dynamic spiritual practices, to which all followers of Jesus are called.
In the assigned gospel text (Mark 10:46-52), Bartimaeus was a true companion and guide. He responds to God’s generosity in his life by following Jesus and giving what he has: himself.
Bartimaeus’ story preaches generosity, which we can all learn from. If I wanted to encourage people to talk about their own experiences of money, I also needed to share everyday stories from my own life. Before sharing, I acknowledged that I am not an expert, but a companion on this journey. I also named the real cultural discomfort, anxiety, and shame around money.
In my preaching, I spoke of a car ride with my dad just after college. Having recently graduated, I was fixated on getting adulthood “right,” and wanted a prescription for how much to give to the church. His response reshaped my idea of Christian giving from an item on my to-do list to a spiritual practice. He said that as my personal resources changed with age, I would need to assess what I could give at each milestone.
To further personalize my stewardship talks, I also shared the struggles and joys of a family that predominantly relies on unpredictable income from self-employment. As a long-term planner, the spiritual practice of asking, “How can I give generously from what I have?” does not make balancing our budget easier. It does turn me from the questions “What don’t I have?” and “What do I wish I had?” to considering “What do I have?” and “What can I do with it?” This spiritual practice is a gift and a struggle that is continually transformative.
After presenting my stewardship talks, I listened to personal stories and responses from the congregation. This feedback was the greatest blessing of the process. May your listening — for generosity, for wisdom concerning money, and for stewardship leadership — be blessed as you continue your own stewardship journey.
For More Information
The Rev. Anna V. Ostenso Moore is the Associate Priest for Family Ministry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis and the author of the picture book Today Is a Baptism Day. She delights in a good cup of tea with her husband, David, and dancing at all opportunities.