By Lisle Gwynn Garrity and Mieke Vandersall
Lisle: A year ago, my friend, Mieke Vandersall, reached out and said, “Hey, would you ever consider partnering with us to create stewardship resources?” Mieke leads Vandersall Collective, a team of consultants specializing in fundraising, communications and strategic planning for faith communities and non-profits. I head up A Sanctified Art, a team of artists crafting visual art and multimedia resources for worship. I instantly realized that together we could create a new approach to stewardship filled with practical wisdom, liturgical depth, and hands-on creativity.
Because our work at Sanctified Art is rooted in community and collaboration, I sent a survey out to the global, ecumenical network of churches who utilize our resources and asked, “What are you wary and weary of when it comes to stewardship?” The survey quickly filled with responses. When it comes to money, pastors are overwhelmed by the challenges of fundraising, weary of old tropes and cliches, wary of manipulative or predatory practices, and zapped of inspiration to faithfully facilitate a practice so essential for all of us. It quickly became clear: the need and hunger for stewardship resources was palpable.
As we began our collaborative work together, Mieke and her colleague, Erin Weber-Johnson, coached us on their approach to stewardship: stewardship is a holistic, spiritual practice, not simply a habit we do out of obligation; Jesus calls us to redistribute wealth and power to create an equitable world; our financial behaviors are rooted in our internalized money stories. The deeper we got into our process, the more we returned to the concept of stories. We realized that in order to transform our practices, we had to discern and re-write the narratives driving them.
As we selected the focal scriptures for the series, the theme, Our Money Story, emerged, along with four weekly sub-themes: Remember, Release, Reimagine, & Restore. This theme invites us to discover and tell our money stories in light of God’s money story of liberation and justice—so that we can write the one God is begging us to live into.
Below, Mieke and I share a bit more about how we hope these materials can help us transform our stewardship practices into more full expressions of who we are and what we believe.
What our money stories say about our stewardship practices
Mieke: We were craving stewardship materials that included our whole selves, that helped not only raise necessary funds but opened us up to the conversion that our Christian life requires. We knew that money is too often unspoken, taboo, filled with shame and confusion. To spend time in those places (through remembering, releasing, reimagining, restoring) is what Christ calls us to. Our money stories come from the places deep within, from memories barely tracked, from scripts deeply embedded, and in them we choose without knowing it the power that money has in our lives. Only through excavating them, personally and corporately, can our money stories be rewritten for the glory of God. And then, as we do our own spiritual and emotional work, can we be effective fundraisers. This resource does both: provides containers to explore remembering, releasing, reimagining and restoring our money narratives and gives us how-tos for running a campaign.
Art and stewardship?
Lisle: Maybe you’ve never before experienced these two practices combined or have even believed them to be incongruous or unrelated. However, stewardship, like art-making, is a deeply spiritual practice that helps us embody and envision something new. Our Money Story includes original visual art inspired by each of the scriptures in the series because we believe scripture shouldn’t just be read—it begs to be imagined and visualized. We’ve also included an intergenerational art project that guides your community in creating a mandala mosaic together. This project interweaves art elements into your worship and helps you tangibly mark your progress throughout your stewardship season (and can be adapted in case you are worshiping online).
Why now is the time to dig deep into our money narratives
Mieke: When there is a crisis, I have found that our fear around money—not having enough, guilt over having too much, being left alone, not being able to control our own destiny—becomes front and center. I have found that in crisis times, those old stories that have not been healed come rearing their head, and in crisis, for us to explore those, and allow our biblical stories to speak a new story, is the exact time to do this work together. The resources we have created, we pray provide a container for this to happen, so that when it is time to ask (and it is always a time to ask), you can do so from a grounded place of confidence and a generous spirit.
To view and learn more about our stewardship resources, visit: sanctifiedart.org/our-money-story-stewardship-bundle
About the Authors
Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity (she/her) is the Founder and Creative Director of A Sanctified Art, a collective of artists creating art and multimedia resources for worship leaders and spiritual seekers. Pre-COVID, she would also travel often to serve as artist-in-resident for churches across the country, but for now she is enjoying tending to her garden, dogs, and chickens alongside her husband in their small town “yardstead” in Black Mountain, NC.
Rev. Mieke Vandersall (she/her) is the Owner and Principal Consultant of Vandersall Collective, with over 15 years of executive leadership experience in the religious nonprofit arena. She is currently the Founding pastor of Not So Churchy, a progressive, arts-based, queer-led, new worshiping community in NYC.
Photo by Alex Zaitsev
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