One evening this week about 17 or 18 River Road Church leaders gathered in our church’s Parlor for a conversation about money and ministry.

The group was evenly divided between directors of our Endowment Board and selected chairpersons of our boards and key committees.  Our Endowment Board issued the invitation and initiated the conversation.  They came to listen, not to speak.

For about 90 minutes the chairs of boards and committees took turns describing ways River Road Church could improve our ministries to our congregation and community.  The ideas they proposed were thoughtful, specific, creative, and, in a few instances, outside the box.

The Endowment Committee was impressed by the breadth and depth of suggestions offered.  There was energy and passion in the room.  It was a healthy session.

The directors of the Endowment Board hung around to debrief the meeting, and they asked for my impressions.  There were two.

First, I expressed my thought that the meeting was empowering.  No longer are directors waiting passively for some church member, board or committee to present them with a compelling idea for a grant.  They are going on offense, seeking the best ideas to improve our serve.  The meeting was a tangible gesture designed to empower our church’s leaders to exercise their creativity and call to ministry.

Second, however, I heard in the conversation the assumption that money, in the form of grants from our Endowment, was the fuel that could power all our ministries.  It is an assumption I have made too often across the years.  Our most significant point of poverty is not our lack of money.  Instead, it is a lack of member participation in the ongoing work of our church.

Example.  More than one person in the meeting voiced a need to purchase a new bus to transport our members to Sunday School, worship, and mission trips.  It is a legitimate need.  But a whole fleet of new buses are of little value if there are no volunteers to drive the buses.  The latter is a recurring detriment to our work.

Money is necessary to accomplish ministry.  But money is not a replacement for the involvement of you and me in the ministries to which we are called.