Okay. I get it. Talking about money is generally not an appropriate topic in day-to-day conversation.
We wouldn’t dare ask a coworker how much money they make. Likewise, we’d never ask how much our neighbor spent on their recent kitchen remodel. Or even, ask a friend how much is in their investment portfolio.
In America, we are encouraged to spend far beyond what we can afford, but we are never encouraged to talk about it. This trend has led the average family to have about $132,000 in personal debt according to Bloomberg’s 2016 report. The “spend more” message of today’s society and the lasting impact of debt have placed a huge burden on many families. It’s no wonder that the topic of money and finances is so difficult to address, especially in the Church.
As an Executive Pastor, I generally prefer to be behind the scenes. But a few years ago, my Senior Pastor asked me to teach the midweek Bible study for stewardship month. I was immediately challenged to find a way to openly talk about money with conviction. And, this is what I learned…
1. The Bible gives clear instructions for money.
From Genesis through the New Testament, the Bible clearly states that we are to be people that embrace a life of generosity.
Not only are we encouraged to give to the church (Malachi 3:6-10); but, we are also challenged to give to those in need (Matthew 6:2-4). Scripture is clear that the Christian walk should be marked by regular giving and our motives should be from joy and not compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Since the Bible provides clear instructions on how we are to give, we as church leaders must be faithful teachers who regularly proclaim this message of Scripture.
2. Giving is part of discipleship.
Matthew 28:18-20 is commonly referred to as the “Great Commission.”
In this passage, Jesus gives clear instructions to His disciples who would form the early church. Under His authority, He commands His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations…and [teach] them to obey everything I have commanded you.” To make true disciples of Jesus, we must go to where He calls, baptize those of all nations, and teach the Word of God.
Jesus clearly taught on giving and generosity. So to truly cultivate a culture of generosity amongst our congregation, we have to talk about the biblical principles of giving. And, this is how we fulfill the Great Commission in our churches.
3. Giving is worship.
It’s not by accident that we have a time of offering in our worship services.
In the book of Acts, we see the early church gathered to worship God. But, it’s important to note that we don’t just see the church singing and reading the Bible. We see the church graciously and sacrificially giving to God and others.
In Acts 4:32-36, we are introduced to a group of believers who willingly and openly share their possessions with others. Barnabas was one of the most noteworthy of his people for his generosity, having sold a field to bring the proceeds to the Church.
From the beginning of the Christian Church, generosity is a part of worship and an expression of how we give thanks to God (2 Corinthians 9:10-15). And, the modern church is to continue this practice today.
4. Encourage people to take the next step.
You probably don’t need me to tell you this but you have different types of givers in your church.
You’ll have some attendees who don’t give at all. Others who give regularly but not much. A group that tithes regularly by meticulously calculating 10% of their income. And a handful who give generously and sacrificially above their call to tithe.
So how do you encourage people, who are in very different stages of their giving journeys, to take their next step in faith? You meet them where they are.
It can seem daunting to someone on a fixed income to go from never giving to giving a regular tithe. Challenge that giver to take the next step. Encourage your congregation to go from never giving, to giving when they can, to regularly giving, to generous giving.
Our ultimate goal for every believer should be generous giving, but most people won’t be able to take that big of a step. Help them your donors by challenging them to take the next step in their faith, whatever that step may be.
5. Teach the basics of money management.
The truth is there are some people in your congregation who don’t give because they don’t understand basic money management.
With increasing debt and challenging working environments, people are struggling just to make ends meet. We must teach our people how to budget, how to plan, and how to save. And, one way to do this is by adding a small group to your church specifically focused on money management. One suggested course of study for the small group is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. This course will teach members the basics of money management, provide strategies to best eliminate debt, and equip people to give generously.
If we are going to emphasize giving from the pulpit, we also need to equip people with the tools to get their financial houses in order.
6. Giving is all about faith.
If you talk to a seasoned giver, they will probably tell you about a time in their life when they were faced with an unexpected expense that challenged their commitment to give. They will also tell you how God was faithful and allowed them to overcome the situation- all while praising Him.
Share stories like this with your congregation. Include stories of life change during your offering moment or incorporate them into a dedicated sermon on generosity.
Use these stories of faith to encourage others to take their next step in their giving journey.
Since starting my ministry work, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t be afraid or hesitant to teach people about giving. I can be bold and speak with conviction on the topic. And I encourage you to do the same. No matter what the world around us is saying, we need to speak boldly about giving to God (Romans 12:1-2).