Conversation on Stewardship & Finances, 2014-2020

The Conversation on Stewardship & Finances Project at LTS has engaged with partners, students, and congregations to help address increasing economic challenges faced by theological students and ministers.  The project was funded through the Lilly Endowment’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers (ECFFM).  At LTS, the project work sought to strengthen student financial literacy and well-being, improve institutional practices, and research the implications of bi-vocational ministry. 

Conversations with Organizational Leaders

One of the goals of the Conversation on Stewardship & Finances Project was to influence the larger conversation among undergraduate and graduate theological institutions and other portions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) regarding financial literacy, student debt, and the cost of higher education.

Strategies

LTS partnered with the Council of Colleges and Universities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Phillips Theological Seminary to convene a working group of presidents, administrators, and faculty to explore the challenges of financing a college education and a graduate theological education for students interested in ministry.

Activities

The Presidential Round Table met to focus on strategic issues which impact and influence decisions related to college financing.  Research also was conducted concerning the challenges of student debt within undergraduate schools and graduate theological institutions related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Recommendations emerged from the conversations as possibilities for further partnership and strategies to address complex problems and were shared with the appropriate governing boards of each partner, with the Council of Theological Education and Higher Education Leadership Ministries, as well as with regional and general assemblies of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Click here to view the the report on the work of the conversation group.

Conversations with Students

Another of the goals of the Conversation on Stewardship & Finances Project was to enhance and enrich efforts to educate LTS students about biblical stewardship, financial literacy, and the implications of consumer and student loan debt on ministry.

Strategies

LTS built upon existing practices in student services and the academic program to support enhanced knowledge for staff, strengthen conversations held with students, and improve resources used with students.

Activities

Financial planning resources were made available on the LTS website to help students make well-informed financial decisions as they pursue theological education and prepare for ministry after seminary.  These resources support counseling the Director of Financial Aid conducts with students about stewardship and financial planning. Click here to view these resources.

Conversations with Congregations and Pastors

Another of the goals of the Conversations on Stewardship & Finances Project was to conduct research to understand the implications of bi-vocational ministry on the choices and financial viability of clergy and congregations.

Strategies

LTS partnered with the Christian Church In Kentucky to identify congregations and clergy with the most potential to benefit from participation in the project.  The research project, launched in 2014, involved an online survey fielded with Disciples of Christ clergy in Kentucky and semi-structured interviews with bi-vocational solo pastors and lay leaders of the congregations they serve.  The results of the survey and interviews were analyzed and shared within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Click here for more about the emerging themes from the bi-vocational research of the Conversation on Stewardship & Finances Project at LTS. 

The research project culminated with the creation of a resource designed to support congregations in learning more about bi-vocational ministry and how it impacts the choices and financial viability of both clergy and congregations.  Click the image to the left to read the resource, Conversations with Congregations:  Exploring Implications of Bi-vocational Ministry for Clergy and Congregations.