Preparing to teach God’s Word is no easy or small task.
I get it. The responsibility of a pastor is heavy. You wear many hats and have many roles. But the Lord has placed a special responsibility on you to help shepherd His flock. To not only care for His people, but to teach His people as well.
And it makes sense that you would feel more comfortable teaching about some subjects rather than others. In fact, all pastors have their “niche” as well as specific topics they avoid at all costs. To everyone’s surprise, money is the top topic pastors shy away from or are uncomfortable to talk about.
How will my congregation respond to sermons on generosity? Will they see me as greedy? Do they have a past of mistrust with church finances? Will people leave the church when I ask them to give?
These are thoughts many (if not all) pastors have had at one point or another. The truth is, even though you may feel uncomfortable talking about money now, you still have a calling to teach on this topic. And I believe that with practice and the right resources, money and generosity will be topics that you no longer avoid or fear when teaching.
So what’s the trick? Preparation.
Keep in mind that anytime you plan to talk about money, you have to prepare. You have to recognize that you’re teaching a group of people that are different in many ways.
Recognize that you’re teaching a group of people that are different in many ways.
Acknowledging these differences can help you speak very pointedly to various groups. As you prepare to teach about money and generosity, it will be helpful to acknowledge the differences that will exist in the room.
Here are a few acknowledgements that may be helpful as you prepare to teach about money and responses for how to address them:
1. Acknowledge that everyone is in a different financial situation.
There are numerous financial situations represented in your church. Those sitting next to each other during the service may be facing dramatically different challenges or opportunities. One may have just received a bonus at work while the other is facing bankruptcy. One may have very little financial knowledge while the other is an accountant. Everyone is in a different financial situation, and it is important that you acknowledge this.
Response: Meet them where they are.
Everyone has a next step. It doesn’t matter if it’s their first step or their hundredth, you can always encourage your congregants to take a step forward. While the first and hundredth steps look different from each other, you can still give some specific opportunities for these unique groups.
This may mean encouraging them to give for the first time, empowering them to resume giving, or challenging them to move beyond even the ten percent tithe.
Everyone has a next step. It doesn’t matter if it’s their first step or their hundredth, you can always encourage your congregants to take a step forward.
For those facing bankruptcy, invite them to join a bible study that is studying Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Help them get back to a healthy financial place first, then they can generously give later.
For those who are in a place of abundance but have never given before (or have stopped giving), offer an opportunity to give to a specific area of outreach. Remember numbers tell a story. For example, share that with a $30 donation, your church is able to provide 10 meals to the local food bank. Show them how their generosity is making an impact.
For those who regularly give, thank them for their generosity and provide opportunities to further their gifts. Share the Skip Something, Give Something challenge. Encourage them to skip their Tuesday morning Starbucks coffee to give an extra $10 to the church instead. Empower them to become radical, sacrificial givers.
2. Acknowledge that everyone has a different money story.
There are some in your church that grew up with very little; want was a constant. There are others who grew up with affluence. There are some in your church who watched their parents constantly argue over money. There are others who have no such memory.
These stories influenced each individual in your congregation and their feelings towards money. Everyone has a different money story, and it is important that you acknowledge this.
Response: Dispel Doubt and Mistrust
The best way to address doubt or skepticism when it comes to giving is through Scripture. Some people may worry they won’t have enough in their budget after tithing and others may doubt God’s response towards the generous.
The best way to address doubt or skepticism when it comes to giving is through Scripture.
When teaching on money, don’t just point to practical steps, but share principles from scripture. Take the pressure off yourself to change minds and let God’s Word resonate with your congregation. Share Scripture during your sermon about God’s calling to be generous and the reward when embracing this calling. Take it a step further and share stories of people in your congregation who have radically been blessed through their giving.
For those who come from a family who regularly argue about money, they likely embody distrust in regards to finances. To overcome distrust, transparency is key. Offer to share the church’s financial practices with them. Compare the current finances to the past finances. If the numbers demonstrate a downturn, explain what is being done to address the downturn. Show the progress and be open with your practices.
3. Acknowledge that everyone has a money personality.
An individual’s money personality is frequently a combination of their money personality and their God-given personality. One attendee may be a saver while the other is a spender (sometimes, those two are married). A money personality predisposes a person to make certain financial decisions and prefer certain financial goals. Of course, this doesn’t mean money personalities impede change. A spender can learn to save. Everyone has a different money personality, and it is important to acknowledge this.
Response: Remind your church that we are the stewards
A person’s bank account shows where their heart lies. Maybe the joy of their heart is with food, shopping, or traveling. Challenge your congregation to examine their own finances and see what they really prioritize. Remind them that what we have on this earth is not ours. It all belongs to God. We are just entrusted with it for the time being.
Challenge your congregation to examine their own finances and see what they really prioritize.
Encourage your congregation to check on their heart’s alignment with money. Whether they spend more than they should or have fears that cause them to excessively save their money, we must remember our treasures are not ours. That we are given them by God to use in the way He instructed us to do.
4. Acknowledge that God’s teachings on money and generosity apply to everyone.
Your church members and attendees have different financial situations, money stories, and money personalities. However, the Word of God is just as applicable to the debt-laden as the debt-free, and His teachings are just as relevant to the saver as the spender. Scripture relating to money and generosity are needed by all. And you need to acknowledge this.
Response: Share Scripture
The Word of God applies to everyone, regardless of financial situation. Prepare Scriptures before your sermon that address the topics of money and generosity. Offer insights to help your congregation see how this applies to their lives. Remind them that we are all stewards (or managers) of what God has entrusted to us. When we read scripture we see that no one is exempt from the call to be generous. From the poor widow to the rich young ruler, we are all called to give back.
When we read scripture we see that no one is exempt from the call to be generous. From the poor widow to the rich young ruler, we are all called to give back.
God will work to soften and prepare hearts through Scripture. No matter what, keep preaching God’s Word and discipling givers to live generously.
Next time you’re preaching on money, acknowledge these 4 factors that influence how your attendees view money and respond to them in how you plan and teach. Doing so will help equip individuals to embrace generosity no matter where they are at in their faith and financial journeys.