Very few pastors like to talk about money with their congregations. When I was a pastor, I always tried to talk about giving when the church was doing well financially so that no one could think I was just trying to rescue the budget.
How God’s people use their money is very revealing about their true walk with God. Many Christians think how they use their money is their business. They feel an ownership of their bank accounts that is unlike any other part of their lives.
God considers how His people think about their money and how they use it to be a really important aspect of their spiritual growth. He actually has a lot to say about money in Scripture. God tells His people “freely open your hand” to the poor (Deut. 15:8). He says to give generously to the poor and to do so without grief (Deut. 15:10). This sounds a lot like Paul’s admonition to us in the New Testament in calling on us to support the work of God’s ministers. He says we should give cheerfully, not grudgingly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 6:7). And in both the Old and New Testaments, God tells us that He will bless us (Deut. 15:10) and that we will receive an abundance (2 Cor. 6:8) as we give.
So, how do we help people in our churches embrace the kind of giving spirit that God calls for and that He will bless? Art Rainer offers six very insightful suggestions that can be easily incorporated into the life of a church that can help Christians adopt a more Christ-like attitude toward their material blessings.
1. Teach about generosity more often. The Bible tells us the way we manage our resources reflects the priorities found in our hearts. To disciple others well, church leaders must teach on stewardship and money – and in more than a single sermon series.
The Bible has more than 2,000 verses on stewardship and money. Jesus spoke repeatedly about money throughout his ministry. If God consistently emphasizes stewardship and money, should not church leaders? Consider weaving teachings on generosity throughout the year, from the service to small groups.
2. Talk about the church’s mission, not the budget shortfall. Do you give time and money to a losing effort? Unfortunately, this is how many church members feel when they place their money in the offering plate. They look at the bulletin and see a negative number in the budget area. When the pastor speaks on money, it’s often about how the church is financially struggling.
Mission motivates. People give to mission. God has called your church to do great things for His kingdom. He has called your church to make a difference in your community and around the world. Talk about that mission constantly.
3. Tell stories. Randy Alcorn wrote, “Giving is a giant lever positioned on the fulcrum of the world, allowing us to move mountains in the next world. Because we give, eternity will be different – for others and for us.” One person’s generosity can change another person’s life for eternity. Regularly tell people of your church how their generosity is making a difference in God’s kingdom. Create a system to collect stories of life change in your church. This can be as simple as asking church leaders what God did in their ministry that week. Then, with permission tell the stories to the church – so people can see that their giving moves mountains.
4. Tell giver stores too. When people align their life and money with God’s design, they often find themselves on an adventure they never could have imagined. There are countless stories of men and women who struggle with the idea of generosity but, in faith, obey God. In a totally unexpected way, God transforms their hearts and minds. They find themselves regretting only that they did not obey earlier.
Encourage your church by telling these stories. They may help people in your congregation take the next step in their Christian walk.
5. Discuss why your church can be trusted to manage money well. You don’t give to organizations whose financial management you don’t trust. Sometimes churchgoers hesitate to give to their local church because they simply don’t know whether they can trust its financial management.
Overcome these perceptions by discussing how the church’s stewardship can be trusted. Be transparent about how the church spends money. Explain how financial accountability works for the church. If you get an external audit or are certified by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, tell them about it. This discussion can happen in new member classes or at some point during the service.
6. Make generosity about something bigger than money. Scripture reveals that generosity is not exclusively about money. We are to be generous with all the resources God has given us. Teach about the need to be generous with finances – but also teach generosity with homes, hobbies, abilities, and networks. Show churchgoers how they can go through life with their hands open, ready to respond when God moves them to give.
Facts & Trends, Fall 2017
This is sound advice. As God’s people adopt a biblical perspective about their money, they will be blessed. Not only that, the church will have more financial resources for ministry. We all want to do more for the Lord and for those around us. The key to that is the obedience and generosity of God’s people. The money is there. We just need to be reminded that God has given it to us so that we can participate with Him in His Kingdom’s advance. May He find us faithful in this, too.