LEADER LETTER

Subscribing congregations should share this letter with congregational leaders.  Being oriented to the month’s theme, and equipped to help others in the congregation get aligned with it, builds the whole congregation’s engagement with the theme.  Which, of course, means unity and energy for the community.

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"Money" LEADER LETTER

Dear Friends,

Daniel Pink's book, Drive, summarizes and shares research on human motivation.  One study he cites was on the effect of executives given a year-end performance bonus.  The finding?  Those given performance bonuses had lower productivity in the following quarter.  The hunch was that, rewarding high performers with money re-inscribes the thought that money is the primary reason they're working.  Actually, Pink's book shows, people are more motivated by the chance to develop "mastery" (to get good at something), to exert "autonomy" (to have freedom and power of choice), and to serve a greater "purpose."  Master, autonomy, and purpose--not money--is what truly makes people thrive in their work.

And, at the same time, money matters.  It matters that people receive enough.  It matters that people can pay the rent.  It matters that people can put food on the table.

How can we take money seriously without giving it undue authority over our lives?  As people of faith, people who live according to principles that are--at their most radical--counter-cultural, how can we relate to money effectively, without in this capitalist society, turning it into a false idol, the thing we value above all else?

Especially in the context of faith communities, people can get a little anxious talking about money.  So, some congregations compensate by not talking about money at all--money becomes a secret, moving through the organization without much discussion or acknowledgement.  Then, other congregations can start to talk about money all the time, relentlessly worrying about it or celebrating it.  In the congregation in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, we talk about cultivating a "shameless" culture around money--the ability to be honest, direct, and a little less anxious about money, knowing it's a tool that helps us do our ministry.  We try to talk about it with less shame and pride than typically accompanies money.  And we mess up at it.  We get it wrong.  We step on toes.  We offend.  And we try again.

How about you?  How can you imagine the role of money in communities of faith?  In lives of people trying to live by their deepest principles?  What has been your story of relating to money, as a person of principle?  This month, the Faith Rocket theme is "Money."  So, let's talk about it!

Faithfully,

Jake

Rev. Jake Morrill
Senior Minister ORUUC
Executive Director UUCF
Launchpad Partner