It’s common sense: Church leaders can’t expect people to grow in generosity if it’s not talked about.
While some leaders try to avoid the topic at all costs, the truth is most churchgoers aren’t as resistant to talking about money as we think. In fact, many already give to a variety of organizations and causes.
This shows there is a gap to fill between what we know the Bible says about money and our willingness to act on what we know.
Talking about money in church can be tough for the person on the platform and the person in the crowd. But it’s not impossible to do—and do well. You just need to better understand what to say and when to say it.
Most church leaders who don’t have a plan for engaging financial leaders in their church lack one for these two reasons:
1. The belief that engaging financial leaders will make them feel as if all the church cares about is their money or it shows favoritism to certain givers.
2. The lack of confidence to engage financial leaders in a way that encourages them to become significant givers.
However, as churches look to climb out of the tough times caused by the recession, we can no longer exclude anyone—including those with financial means—when it comes to developing a giving ministry. At the same time, confidence is developed when we know the proper techniques to use and the right questions to ask.
The worst time to preach on money is when you need some, pastor. The second worst time is when the church needs some.
The best time to preach on money is all the other times.
That said, here are a number of cautions for you to consider before walking into that lions’ den to tame the monster called greed.
1. Get your own house in order. Now, it’s possible to preach on prayer while knowing you have a long way to go in that respect. You can preach on good works and witnessing even if your record is spotty. You can do so because everyone has room for improvement in these areas. But when it comes to giving/stewardship, you can know when you are doing well.
During my first six months at Newport-Mesa as pastor, the church emptied out. You could have fired a shotgun in the sanctuary on Sunday morning and not hit anybody. Even the church finances began drying up. I had been faithful to build on the strengths God had given me, but I was a total failure.
That’s when I came face to face with another principle of godly leadership. It’s not enough to build on your own strengths, because they’re not enough to build God’s kingdom.
As a pastor, I’ve always found it difficult to talk about money, but I decided to bring the problem to the board. I asked the seven deacons to begin meeting me every Saturday at 6 a.m. for breakfast at a restaurant where we could have a private table. We would do three things: eat breakfast, pray and decide what bills to pay during the upcoming week.
A friend of mine just lost his job. He’s in his 50s with two kids in college, and he’s worried. Another friend just laid off a large number of employees. And a surprising number of recent college graduates that I know are not landing jobs.
That’s a negative headline—but it’s a true headline. There are some job openings, people are getting hired, and there is hope! But we must admit it’s tough out there right now.
I talk with pastors around the country every week and “church finance” is all over the place. Some churches are doing well financially, and many are not. Few are just holding steady, it’s more like holding on.
Overhearing other people’s conversations can be dangerous! I stood in our church office and overheard someone talking about our benevolence giving.
“But is it reaping a return? Do any of these people ever come back and be part of the church?”
That short moment of eavesdropping changed how I view life and church. Do you give in order to receive?
We are all guilty of it. We work hard all week, but if all we get are negative reviews, we feel cheated and let down; or we stay with a family because it is our job, and hope that when this crisis is over they will become stalwart members of the congregation. We give to a woman in need and then feel let down when she doesn’t bring her kids on Sunday.