Writing for the Alban Institute, Dan Hotchkiss notes that difficult economic times have taken the shine off stewardship appeals rooted in the theology of abundance. He says:
•People are more skeptical of glib claims on their generosity than they once were. Even donors for whom church support is an unquestioned obligation don’t assume they need to give to your church. Congregations need to make a case for themselves as worthy recipients of generosity. As global warming, resource depletion, and species extinction become pressing concerns, the people in the pews will expect clergy to address these moral issues, and the church to set a good example.
•The limitless growth of affluence no longer is a widely shared American experience. Personal incomes have stagnated since the mid-1970s. There is little reason to expect the 1950s to return soon, at least not to the western hemisphere.
•The moral goodness of consumption has come into question in new ways. Global warming and the depletion of resources like oil and drinking water have shifted our metaphors for moral living. In place of the expansive and triumphal vision of the good life, we are—or should be—shifting to a more conserving and sustaining vision.
How is your parish shaping its stewardship appeal in difficult times?