Research on Stewardship Education

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Tue, 01/01/1991

The purpose of this grant was to explore an apparent anomaly between, on the one hand, pastors and seminary personnel who agree that church leaders need better training in stewardship education and, on the other hand, the inability of seminaries to provide this training and the unwillingness of pastors to participate even if such programs are offered. Christian Theological Seminary and Saint Meinrad Seminary, the two largest theological schools in Indiana, collaborated on research of the state of clergy stewardship education. Their activities included conducting interviews, leading discussion meetings, and facilitating other events to explore the issues and the implications of their findings. Results from the investigation are published in The Reluctant Steward. Conway found that today's pastors are reluctant stewards of their churches' human, physical, and financial resources. Pastors, by their own admission, frequently lack the knowledge and experience that is required to oversee the development and management of resources that are needed to support the mission of the church. Conway argues that underlying negative attitudes towards administration and money are at the heart of the serious financial crisis that confront mainline Protestant and Catholic churches today. According to the people interviewed in this project, a church leader is a good steward when he or she is 1) motivated by a personal commitment to the theology and practice of Christian stewardship, 2) has a profound sense of responsibility for the human, physical, and financial resources entrusted to his or her care, 3) is aware that this leadership is exercised on behalf of God, and 4) either personally has the requisite leadership and management skills or can identify, recruit, and supervise volunteers and staff who possess these skills. (SM)