In this episode, Prince talks with David P. King, Karen Lake Buttrey Director of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving as well as Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies within the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. As an American religious historian, his research interests broadly include exploring the practices of 20th- and 21st-century American and global faith communities as well as more specifically investigating how the religious identity of faith-based nonprofits shapes their motivations, rhetoric and practice. 

In this conversation, Prince and David discuss:

  • Post-COVID giving trends in congregations 
  • What churches with strong stewardship cultures have in common 
  • Why pastors need to understand money and stewardship
  • And more! 


Guest bio

David P. King arrived at IUPUI in 2014 after serving as Assistant Professor of Christian History at Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. 

He is the author of  “God’s Internationalists: World Vision and the Age of Evangelical Humanitarianism ” (UPenn Press 2019), which traces the almost seventy-year history of World Vision, the world’s largest Christian humanitarian organization, in order to investigate the evolving understandings of religious identity, international development and public policy within the history of international relief and development organizations. 

During his time at IUPUI, King has worked to build the field of religion and philanthropy through interdisciplinary research collaborations, convenings of junior and senior scholars, and expanded critical reflections on the field.

In addition to King’s focus on religion, humanitarianism and philanthropy broadly through a wide variety of organizational models and contexts, he is also particularly focused on congregations. As the co-principal investigator of the National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP), the largest nationally representative study of congregations’ finances conducted in a generation, he is helping to build a new field of research on how congregations receive, manage and spend resources. 

The recipient of almost five million dollars in grant funding for Lake Institute projects and his own research, King continues to foster conversations around the dynamic relationship between faith and giving across all faith traditions. 

He is passionate about research and teaching but as an ordained minister having served local churches and national faith-based organizations, he is also fueled by facilitating conversations with faith leaders, donors, and fundraisers (of all generations) around the intersections of faith and giving. He routinely teaches leaders around the country through Lake Institute’s executive training courses, as well as through speaking at universities, professional conferences and religious gatherings. In recent years, he has been interviewed in national outlets such as ”The Washington Post,” ”The Atlantic,” NPR, ”Religion News Service” and ”The Chronicle of Philanthropy.”


Resources


Transcript

Prince Rivers:

What does it mean to lead now, especially in the church, especially in this political and social climate? I’m Prince Rivers, and this is Leading and Thriving in the Church, a podcast from Alban at Duke Divinity. Our mission is to help you be the leader God has called you to be. It’s been my privilege to serve as a pastor for more than 20 years, and I absolutely love supporting people who lead congregations. It’s one of my passions. But doing ministry in the post-pandemic era has unearthed new leadership challenges, and it has led us to pay more attention to the need for thriving ministers and congregations. This podcast features conversations with some of the most innovative pastors, leaders, and authors I know. They’re going to help us do church faithfully and effectively, and in a way that is life-giving to those who lead and the people we serve. I’m so glad you’re listening. I can’t wait to introduce you to today’s guest on Leading and Thriving in the Church.

David P. King is the Karen Lake Buttrey Director of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, as well as Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies within the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. He arrived at IUPUI in 2014, after serving as assistant professor of Christian history at Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. David is an American religious historian, and he has research interests that broadly include exploring the practices of 20th- and 21st-century American global faith communities, as well as more specifically investigating how religious identity of faith-based nonprofits shapes their motivations, rhetoric and practice. He’s the author of a recent book, “God’s Internationalist: World Vision and the Age of Evangelical Humanitarianism.” We’re so glad to have David King on Leading and Thriving in the Church today. David, thank you for being here. 

David King: 

Thanks, Prince, it’s great to be here. 

Prince Rivers: 

Let’s go ahead and dive in. So for those who may not be as familiar, how would you describe the Lake Institute? What’s their mission? What’s their purpose? 

David King: 

Yeah, thanks. Lake Institute for the last 20 years has been embedded within the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, here in Indianapolis, at Indiana University. But our particular mission really is working at this dynamic intersection between how faith inspires and informs giving, we do that through sort of curating research and scholarship: what do we know about faith and giving at that intersection? We do it through public conversation, hosting events here in Indianapolis, but even more so oftentimes livestream through different communities that we’re engaged with, on these oftentimes difficult topics. But the bulk of our work also is in education and training. So we’re working most often annually with over 1,500 leaders each and every year: clergy, faith-based nonprofit leaders, thinking about these questions around stewardship, fundraising in faith-based or religious organizations. And so we’re excited to do that work with the scholarship that kind of comes behind what we know and how we do it, but really focused in on those practitioners who are working in and around faith communities. 

Prince Rivers: 

So most of the participants in the programs that you run are congregational leaders, is that right? 

David King: 

Yeah, the vast majority are pastors, clergy, a wide variety of faith-based leaders. They might be working within denominational structures, or for mission agencies, conference centers, you name it. But our bread and butter has most often been pastors, clergy working within congregations. 

Prince Rivers: 

That’s great. So David, let’s dive in and talk about congregations and giving, that’s your sweet spot, and we know that any conversation really about money and churches feels like it probably needs to be a different conversation than the one we were having in 2019 or 2018. Do you think that’s the case, and what’s different about it? 

David King: 

Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I’d say yes and no. I mean, pre-COVID, what we saw in some ways is unique. Compared to a lot of the other kinds of giving trends or fundraising trends around nonprofits is the regularity that congregations are used to around giving. There are not very many other nonprofits that are having a large number of those engaged in their community giving on a weekly or biweekly or monthly basis. So that regular commitment, I think, makes congregations unique. At the same time, each of our congregations have some very culturally, contextually specific ways that we think about tithes and offerings, or giving cultures. So being attentive to not only what works, but the ways in which we use language, and the practices that we follow as unique, or if not unique, something that we really should sort of focus in on. 

Post-COVID, I think we are in some ways having a different conversation. For one, if you haven’t gotten engaged in digital giving, I don’t know what’s holding you back. So we’re seeing vast majorities of congregations who’ve made great use of those digital technologies that probably made the giving trends better than we might’ve imagined in the midst of the pandemic. One of the key questions I think for many congregations now is: how to continue to build the practices and rituals and language around giving that are so important for faith spaces, when the offering plate might look fairly bare as it comes through? Because so many people have moved to giving in an automated way, or giving through an app. So I think it’s a time of reimagining what those giving traditions look like, even as we’re finding congregations in new spaces, some are thriving, some are struggling, but I’d say most congregations are still in that middle, trying to make sense of what this new environment’s going to look like. 

Prince Rivers: 

Yeah, that’s fascinating. In my own congregation, we do not pass a plate anymore. We do have lay leaders standing at the entrance, with baskets for those who choose to bring their gifts to the church, but we have electronic means of giving, mail means of giving, and those non-in-person strategies are increasing in terms of how much people are using them, and it’s been fascinating to see the trend. 

David King: 

It’s true in my own congregation as well, the plates didn’t come back after COVID. What that means for the next generation — how do we pass down what oftentimes is left unsaid, but we see it? Thinking about the ways that many of us probably first learned giving: our parents, our grandparents, gave us a quarter or something to put into the offering plate. How do we continue to build those traditions and practices for a new generation is an important question for us to consider. 

Prince Rivers: 

Have you seen any examples of congregations that you think are moving in the right direction on this? They are trying some things, experimenting with some things, that are maybe at the front lines or the vanguard of some of those new practices? 

David King: 

Yes. I mean, I think everybody really is sort of finding their way here, and struggling through it, but I mean, in some ways it’s just calling attention to it, the fact that even if the offering plates or the baskets are not there anymore, finding ways to ritualize a moment of generosity within the worship service, for example. It might be through what you would typically have in sort of an offertory type prayer, or a witness, or a testimony to not only the act of giving, but how those gifts are used within the congregation and the community. I think it’s important to ritualize that, not only in the service itself, but finding ways to get that into the congregation. What kind of lessons are we teaching with the kids, or the youth, or even the adults so that it’s not simply one spot? Because in our congregations, one thing we’ve learned since COVID is while the worship service still may be the space where most people find their way together, just like the way we’re communicating in asynchronous or online formats, we’ve got to find multiple channels in which to get that information out there. Or else maybe we as the leader think we’re communicating that well, but if we’re doing it only in one channel, we’re missing a large group of our congregants. 

Prince Rivers: 

Yeah, yeah, and that makes sense. I mean, I know I have personal preferences when someone asks me to give electronically. I’m okay with one platform, and there’s another one that I’m just like, “No, I don’t like to use that. So if that’s the only method you have, you may not get it from me soon.” So I think the church really has to pay attention to that. That’s a great, great point. Are you noticing regional differences? Because, I mean, we did notice regional differences in COVID, and the response to COVID, and the way churches moved through COVID. Do you notice regional differences in the way congregations think about stewardship, about money trends that are happening within congregations around faith and money? 

David King: 

That’s a great question. I don’t know if I see so much regionally, but I do think there are differences, particularly maybe less so regionally, but thinking about how rural churches or urban churches think about these questions differently. So the role that our congregations play in our communities is essential and vital, and thinking about the different ways that our congregation service sort of anchors, and assets within our communities, I do think it’s kind of connected. So not only how oftentimes we’re focused on how money comes into our congregations, but maybe as essential as how it’s managed and kind of where it’s going, both in and outside the walls of the church. I think different congregational cultures matter, so the type of members that you have in your congregation, and their experience with, or comfort with, issues of money and finance, makes a difference. And so we have to nurture and sort of lead our congregants along, but I think those different cultures oftentimes are framed by who’s there in our communities. 

Prince Rivers: 

That makes perfect sense. Let me back up a little bit and pan out, if you will. What are some of the other prevailing trends that you’re seeing, that might affect congregations and giving, say three to five years out from now? Do you have a sense of what that might be? 

David King: 

Yeah … I’m sure if we listen back three to five years from now, we might be completely surprised. But a couple of trends I think we’re seeing generally in sort of religious communities, is that we know that affiliation, religious affiliation and attendance really matters as predictors of giving and volunteering. So the fact that we’re engaged in congregational life, oftentimes we track that through worship attendance, but what we found out is, actually it’s an additional type of engagement, is a much stronger predictor of giving and volunteering. So if you’re an usher, if you’re in a small group, if you’re working in the nursery, or in a mission team on a Thursday night, these kinds of opportunities actually are much better predictors of giving. One question, I think, three to five years from now is: are people engaging in our local congregations in the same way? 

So we know things like membership, or whatever we might use to sort of think of someone as a particular member of our congregation, is declining. And so not only the fact that we see ourselves as a Christian, but particularly as a member of Union Baptist Church or Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, these actually matter. So I’d say one of the best questions we can ask religious leaders, not only is how to talk about giving, but thinking about different levels or ways to encourage engagement. So whether that be in the service or beyond, and I think we don’t know as more and more of those types of engagement can be done in digital means, or other kind of forms, what that might mean for us. I think nourishing the spiritual religious practices is also key. We know that things like prayer, reading scripture, even taking a walk in nature actually are prone to make people more likely to be givers and volunteers. I don’t know why, but that’s a kind of powerful perspective. So focusing not only on the money and the giving itself, but thinking about ways that we can kind of engage our participants, that has that complete spillover effect into how they would financially invest in our communities too. 

Prince Rivers: 

That’s fascinating, David, that these connections and practices, even beyond what’s happening in the church, can stimulate and encourage generosity within the church, which suggests that leaders of churches really have to think more broadly about how we are leading congregations, because we need to deepen people’s connection to the church. I want you to respond to that, but I have sometimes said to lay leaders, “We’re in a different era of church.” It used to be, at least in churches like the one I serve, people joined the church and then they joined a ministry, and that was like their tribe, their club. And I think what I see now is that people join the church, and then they want to volunteer to serve for an event, for a particular occasion, but not necessarily come to a meeting every single month. And so that is something we have to adapt to, in order to encourage participation, without expecting one generation to be just like the previous generation. 

David King: 

Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think one of the big trends that we definitely will see over these next few years — we’ve seen a significant decline in institutional trust across our society, government, businesses, but that oftentimes is nonprofits, and it’s the local congregations as well. This is across generations, but particularly as we look to the younger generations that will continue to be the leaders of our congregations in the coming years, they’re less interested, or less trustful of institutions. And so imagine our congregations not simply as duty-bound, “congregations are here to do this thing for this reason,” but what are the causes that make our hearts sing that really can push? And people are really excited about giving to things that where they share mission, vision, and values, but how can congregations, in some sense, highlight the great work that they’re doing there, that oftentimes we might leave under-explored, or less than championed as much as we might, in connecting that service that we’re doing out there, the reason we’re doing this work with those who are excited to be a part of it? 

Prince Rivers: 

So do you think storytelling and testimony will need to move more into the forefront? We probably do this a little bit, but we in the West haven’t had to do this as much, in churches. 

David King: 

I think – I mean yes, storytelling in all its forms, and from within, outside the walls of the congregation, and the multimedia, different platforms and methods that we can think about. We can do this on Sunday morning, we can do this in our newsletter, we can do this in a quick … and all the social media platforms that our congregations are involved with, but thinking about short and sweet, but captivating storytelling, to sort of help open up the imagination, or just to connect the dots between what people in our congregations know is true, but we have to just remind them of those stories of transformation that are so much a part of all of our communities. 

Prince Rivers: 

Yes, that is so true, that is so true. Have you noticed that churches with strong cultures of stewardship have certain things in common, as you’ve looked at them across the country or even around the world? 

David King: 

Yeah, I mean those congregations that are really strong in stewardship, I think a couple of things that they hold together is they’re not afraid or embarrassed to talk about questions of money. And so it’s not the work that they have to do in order to kind of get to the work that they want to do, but it’s just more a part of the culture of the congregation. Usually, on top of that, it’s really a holistic conversation around money. It’s not simply an ask for tithes and offerings, but it’s a broader question about — maybe there’s oftentimes financial literacy for congregants engaged. Usually there’s a healthy way of talking about how money is tied to mission, a lot of transparency, so oftentimes unhealthy congregations around money, there’s secrecy or there’s anxiety, but to make this an important part, just all institutions — religion can function without money, but religious institutions cannot. 

So to make this a healthy part of our work is to not set that outside as secular or less than sacred. But to think about that as a part of not only the institution of the church, but what shapes the ways that we are in the world talking about it, talking about it holistically, and using the great gifts, particularly of our theological heritage and imagination, to talk about questions that are bigger than just money itself, but can’t be ignored: justice, equity, reciprocity. I mean, all these kinds of questions are perfect for us within the church, to use our theological frameworks to engage with and lead on, instead of holding back on those topics. 

Prince Rivers: 

You’ve touched on this a little bit, but since this is a podcast about leadership, why do you think it matters that pastors really understand, and congregational leaders really understand, money and stewardship? 

David King: 

Yeah, I think from the thousands of congregations that we’ve worked with, when the pastor, when the leader, doesn’t feel comfortable speaking on those topics, it’s a void that others feel, or it’s left unnamed. And so as a pastor, you don’t have to be a CPA, or an accountant, or a financial manager. You need to know the basics, and then you need to know what you don’t know, and the great gifts of your congregation are, there plenty of people that you can call on. But your strengths as a leader are really tied to helping shape the moral imaginations, and the religious practices, and the biblical frameworks that you can guide a community in, that helps to integrate oftentimes these questions of money with faith. And too often, if pastors are unwilling to find their way into that space, then we create an unhealthy relationship with questions of money and stewardship, and then it becomes something that is not a part of our religious lives, but sort of seems outside it. And then we can have unhealthy views of money, we can think about how — I think it’s something if we left undone, then it takes a life of its own that becomes unhealthy, and we don’t use our greatest gifts, which are leading from within our own theological traditions as pastors on that front. 

Prince Rivers: 

So to that point, you’re at one of the leading religious institutions in the U.S. Do you think that there is a role that institutions like Lake can play in the wellbeing and flourishing of leaders in local communities, especially around faith and money? And if so, how would you name that? How would you describe that? 

David King: 

Yeah, well, I hope so. I mean, one of the things that I’d love Lake Institute to be known for is working at that intersection between faith and giving, and being able to translate how important faith communities are across our local communities. So oftentimes, particularly embedded in the School of Philanthropy, my colleagues here know that religion matters. They may not know faith communities like our listeners here do, embedded deep within it. They know it matters, but they may not know why. And so for us as religious leaders, to be able to translate to a variety of different leaders across sectors, to talk about the assets that our congregations are across our communities, locally, nationally, globally. This is true across congregations, but there are many ways that we can point to, whether it’s just the ripple effect of the resources that congregations bring to communities. You think about all congregations, but let’s take the tradition of the Black church as sort of an anchor institution in so many different communities. 

Think about the way that people kind of come in and out and through our congregations. It’s vital for us to tell those stories to local governments, to businesses, to other nonprofits, and to attend to all the threads and ties that kind of weave us together. It’s been important for us as congregational leaders to not forget that we are engaged in all those communities. And so for us to be isolated or sometimes be retrenched and just talk to other pastors, and maybe sometimes bemoan the future or the decline in a number of folks that are attending our services, or the money in the offering plate, we would do well to look to those strengths, and look to how we are stronger together across our faith communities. But also I think by necessity, building those networks in our communities that make, I would say a lot of the questions that we have facing us in society — polarization, pluralism — I think we can find a way forward in those questions when we’re leading in that positive way. 

Prince Rivers: 

Yeah, that’s very helpful, very helpful. Because I guess all of us, or most of us that are leading congregations are facing similar issues, though they may be dressed up differently. Our congregants face the same national economic issues, they’re hearing the same political issues in the news. So I like the idea of networking and really coming together to think about how we can chart a way forward. One of the other, I guess, realities that really came to the fore during the pandemic, issues of social equity and justice that many of our congregations are still trying to get their minds around. How do you see a connection between the sort of economic and financial issues that churches need to pay attention to, and maybe even some of the social and justice related issues that are happening around the congregations, or in the communities where these congregations are? Is that another way for congregational leaders to help people think about the importance of stewardship? 

David King: 

Yeah, I think so. I think that’s really a complex question, and a super important question for congregations to consider. I mean, one thing that we know about congregational giving is that it’s oftentimes somewhat different than typical philanthropy. We think of the Bill Gates, of the Warren Buffets of the world, who are major philanthropists. And so we see big gifts that might come, recently to Spelman College or to … major gifts, and we can say, well, we’re not philanthropists like that. And we do know that wealth and philanthropy is skewing towards that 1%, or to the highest income levels. Church giving, congregational giving is not like that. Any of our congregations have bigger givers than others, but it’s much more of a democratized type of giving, because it’s not simply we need to do our fair share, we know that generosity is a religious or spiritual practice. 

So not only is it good for our congregations to help support them, but it’s good for us as individuals. It’s a part of what calls us to be better neighbors, and it causes us to imagine the world in the sense of abundance versus scarcity. It helps us realize that we’re not wedded to our stuff, into what we’re called to as leaders and as congregants. I think the role congregations play in particular, in our communities, can be leaders in reimagining what equity and justice and partnership looks like. And when we’re talking about income, economic issues — again, to take the stewardship question, and broaden it into the theological framework, the biblical narrative that we’re given, that doesn’t allow us stop short and say, “Bring your tithes and offerings to the church,” but to think about how we’re thinking about possessions more broadly. I think that holistic understanding would resonate well with those in our pews, and I think it’s a necessity for us as we look to being a champion for these particular issues, that the church is ready and hopefully willing to accept their mantle and to engaging in our communities. 

Prince Rivers: 

So David, for most of our conversation, I know I’ve been thinking about how congregants give to churches, and how pastors and congregational leaders help people think about generosity as a spiritual practice. I’m also interested in what you think about the way congregations are stewards of the resources they receive for the benefit of the community and the larger world, and whether there’s any research that reveals some best practices. I can think of congregations that encourage tithing from members, but also make it a point to put 10% of their budget that goes outside of the congregation as a way of saying to the people, “Hey, we are going to be the kind of steward that we are asking you to be,” and what are your thoughts about that, and what would you say to pastors and lay leaders listening to this? 

David King: 

I think that’s actually a great point, because our congregations in some ways — or how we manage the resources that we’ve been entrusted with is probably one of the best ways that we can be a witness for how to talk more broadly about these questions of money and stewarding resources well. One of the knocks on congregations when we’re thinking about charitable giving is, compared to a lot of other nonprofits, people might perceive congregations as: money comes in, but it doesn’t go out. It’s, most often, it pays for the pastor, it pays for the building, it pays for the youth ministry, but it’s more like a club, a membership organization, than it is a social service nonprofit, let’s say. We know that’s not the case, right? When we look at a congregational budget, even those that may not have an explicit sort of rule to tie up or through to the denomination or other mission activities, or other partners, we know that 98% of all congregations, in a recent study we did, are partnering with at least one or more social service or mission agencies in their community or beyond. 

So basically, almost all congregations are working outside their own walls, and they’re oftentimes hosting multiple organizations inside their walls that are sort of community organizations too. Telling that story is important, so to our congregants, to those outside, to demonstrate that the congregation is not just serving themselves and their members, but how are they making a difference? Back to the sort of storytelling and witnessing. But this is a question that congregations really need to, again, with transparency, I would say have among its leadership. So thinking about stewarding, how are we saving resources? What do we have tied up in an endowment? Do those endowment resources match our mission? One thing we’ve seen as denominations are declining in some ways [is] that maybe our local congregations that are wedded or tied to denomination are not as likely to partner or pass those funds back up. So what do we think about the various levels of connection, and how do they serve our congregations well, and how are we called to serve others with those funds that we’ve been entrusted with? 

Prince Rivers: 

Now, you just glossed over a very interesting issue that I have wrestled with over the years: that is, churches and endowments. So I don’t know if you want to speak about that, but my own personal position has been, it’s fine, and if you’ve got a million dollars in a bank account and you can only spend $10,000 of it a year, I wonder if we could use it in some different ways. So are you hearing churches wrestle with this question about endowments? 

David King: 

Yeah, very much so. I mean, this is one of the post-COVID conversations I think we’re hearing more and more about, which are particularly, I would say, buildings and assets, because many of our congregations didn’t use those big buildings for a year plus, and they realized those buildings were not serving their communities as well as they thought, or that was in many ways, oftentimes one of the greatest assets that a community has that’s underused, particularly maybe congregations that are numerically in decline, as far as attendance, but have this wonderful footprint of a building that they could utilize into the community. And I would say with a great sense of imagination, economic imagination, congregations are beginning to look into all sorts of new partnerships, whether it’s affordable housing or other social enterprises, all kinds of new economic models that go well beyond how tithes and offerings come into the congregation and then pay the bills, and then some of it goes back out. 

The question of endowments is another important one. Congregations who have historic endowments are beginning to do their due diligence on how those monies came to them, to think about questions of repair or even reparations in some sense. But others know that instead of just spending down those endowments to keep their doors open, they would do well to reimagine what that might mean for missions, before you would take a big endowment gift, again. Prince, I’m on the same page with [you], I think they have a place in our congregations and in our communities, because oftentimes if a large gift, maybe a legacy gift comes to an organization, it may not be best utilized all right now, but to think about before you just have an endowed gift, or oftentimes with our congregations, we have 45 small $5,000 endowments that pay for the cemetery upkeep, or one person from this county to go to mission camp at this particular time. 

Having those conversations with our donors, particularly when they’re thinking about shaping maybe a legacy gift, and helping them reimagine what purpose those gifts can have now and into the future, I think is a bigger question that our religious leaders may not be needing to pool the trust and the wills together, that’s somebody else’s job. But being at the table in those conversations for what those questions look like is important. 

Prince Rivers: 

So right now, I’m sure there’s some ministers listening to this, and their heads are spinning. They’re trying to figure out, “Okay, what do I do next?” So a lot of us don’t get training in finances or economics. You mentioned we don’t have to be a CPA, and that’s great, but just as we think about it, what resources or opportunities would you recommend to our listeners to help them maybe better understand financial dynamics related to ministry? Are there places you point people to when they say, “David, what should I do?” 

David King: 

Yeah. Well, I mean, not to turn everybody to Lake Institute, but we are excited about a few courses that we do, like an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising, for instance, or we’re oftentimes partnering with groups and cultivating generous congregations. These courses are really meant for clergy or leadership teams within a congregation, to get the basics of what we know about some of the best practices around fundraising and stewardship and faith communities and congregations look like. They can oftentimes be a great place to have as a starting point. Religious leaders are so skilled at so many different types of work that they’re called to, and have the clear capacities to engage with on these financial fronts, and to claim all the skills that you already bring to this work is important, and that’s what we do in those courses that, if you could go to lakeinstitute.org, you can see a list of those courses. 

Some of them are in person, many of them are online, even in short forms, but we’re excited about another project we have called sort of our “resource library,” where we have places there where you can go whenever you want to, not a particular course, look at some best practices, or research studies, or what we call the Faithful Generosity Story Shelf, where we’ve got kind of short stories, case studies that you could maybe even print off and read in two to three minutes with your financial team. Maybe it’s before the meeting, or to help spark your imagination in different ways than just looking at what columns have red in it, what columns have black in it on the spreadsheet each month. Those are really meant to kind of help reimagine the way we talk about these questions around economics, so it’s not just how do we bring more money in on a Sunday morning, but what do we do with our resources? What do we do with our assets? How do we partner in local communities? 

There are a number of other great organizations that are doing this work. I’d look to your denominations, those of you who are engaged in that work, oftentimes, whether it’s the denominational foundation, or other regional bodies have folks that you can rely on, and more and more there are short courses or resources you can pick up. Since most of us didn’t learn this stuff in seminary, it’s a great place to continue to dig into. 

Prince Rivers: 

David, this has been a lot of fun. I’ve got one final question for you. What gives you hope when you look at the church these days? 

David King: 

Well, that’s a great question, and I’m super excited about the work that I’m called to here at Lake Institute, and that we’re called to as religious leaders. I have hope in the church, that not only can they help all of us reimagine the resources that we’ve been entrusted with, but the role that the church plays even outside its walls. And so I think we’re well equipped, post-COVID, into the 21st century to really grasp that innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship that I think the early church was so well equipped with as well. And I find more than any sense of decline, it’s a great space of creativity, innovation, and it’s a tipping point for all of us to live into our own sort of faith stories and callings in our communities, and how to do that in partnership, not only with other congregations, but the communities in which we’re engaged. I have a lot of hope for what that might mean for all of our communities in our nation, and around the world. 

Prince Rivers: 

David King, I really appreciate you being with us today on “Leading and Thriving in the Church.” I feel like we’re ready to lead well and to live well, so thank you so much for being with us today. 

David King: 

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. 

Prince Rivers:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Leading and Thriving in the Church. This podcast is produced by Emily Lund and recorded in the Bryan Center Studios on the campus of Duke University. I’m your host, Prince Rivers. If you want more great leadership content, be sure to check out our website alban.org, where you can sign up for the Alban Weekly newsletter, and make sure you subscribe to this podcast on your preferred podcast platform so we can keep you informed as we release new episodes. Until next time, keep leading.


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