The following is a summary of Dunham+Company’s founder and chairman Rick Dunham’s session from our 2022 Give Conference.
“Why is teaching about giving so essential?”
This question has come up at one time or another in every pastor’s tenure. It’s the one topic pastors seem to dread the most-no one likes to talk about money.
But giving and the topic of money is arguably one of the most important and necessary discussions we need to be having in the church.
So how do we address it?
The Control of Money
The answer lies in the biblical perspective on money and its power over our lives. It’s a force so controlling that Jesus spoke about it more than heaven and hell combined. Our hearts are easily swayed by material wealth, pulling us away from God. In Matthew 6:20-21, He said, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Money is also one of Satan’s key lines of attack. If he succeeds in making us trust our possessions more than God, he effectively neutralizes our spiritual strength. This idea is reinforced in 1 Timothy 6:10, which states, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
We see all of this on display in the story of Judas’ betrayal of Christ. In Matthew 26:14-15, Judas negotiates with the chief priests, asking, ‘What are you going to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.” The love of money was the final tipping point that led to Judas’ betrayal. This underscores its destructive power when it supplants our loyalty to God.
As believers, We all must continually reevaluate our relationship with money, ensuring that it does not become an idol that derails us from our divine calling.
What Does Biblical Giving Look Like?
Chasing money has the ability to move our hearts away from God. Giving re-aligns our priorities with God’s. Interestingly, research shows that the average Christian household gives roughly 2% of its disposable income. This percentage may seem small compared to typical tithe we think of, but it resonates with what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give”. Generosity is an issue of the heart.
Chasing money has the ability to move our hearts away from God. Giving re-aligns our priorities with God’s.
Consider two examples that illustrate the control and power of money and the role or lack of giving: The Church of Laodicea and the Church of Macedonia. In Revelation 3:16-17, we learn about the Laodiceans who, despite their wealth, were described as being “lukewarm” in their faith. They believed they were rich and needed nothing, yet in reality, they were spiritually poor and apathetic. Their wealth had become a hindrance, not an asset, to their relationship with God.
In stark contrast, we see the Church of Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8:2-6. Despite undergoing severe trials and extreme poverty, they displayed overflowing joy and rich generosity. They gave beyond their means and pleaded for the privilege of sharing in service to the Lord’s people. The Macedonians, despite having little, devoted themselves wholly to Jesus, while the Laodiceans, despite having much, were devoted only to themselves and their belongings.
Investing the riches entrusted to us in righteousness fosters joyful and generous giving regardless of our financial status.
Is it Biblical to Ask for Money?
Navigating the topic of financial giving can be a delicate task. Yet, it’s an essential part of our role. Asking for money or challenging God’s people is not simply a “have to” to fund ministry; it’s a spiritual discipline that God has established to help move the hearts of His people towards Him.
Asking for money or challenging God’s people is not simply a “have to” to fund ministry; it’s a spiritual discipline that God has established to help move the hearts of His people towards Him.
We find biblical precedent for this in Exodus 24:17-18, when Moses ascended the mountain and spent forty days and nights in the presence of God’s glory. Following this transformative experience, God directed Moses in Exodus 25:1 to ask the Israelites for an offering, saying, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.” This directive placed Moses in the position of needing to challenge God’s people to give willingly and generously.
However, the Israelites’ relationship with wealth was complicated. In Exodus 32:3-4, we see them using their gold, a symbol of their wealth, to create a golden calf for worship. They were literally worshiping their wealth. This event serves as a stark reminder of how easily material possessions can become idols that pull us away from our devotion to God.
Yet, when Moses challenged the Israelites to give for the works on the Tent of Meeting, they responded with overwhelming generosity. Exodus 35:20-21 tells us that “everyone whose heart stirred him and whose spirit prompted him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the works on the Tent of Meeting, for all its services, and for the holy garments.”
Their response was so enthusiastic that Moses had to restrain them from giving more. As stated in Exodus 36:6-7, “‘No man or woman should make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ So the people were restrained from bringing more because what they already had was more than enough to do the work.”
Challenging your congregation to give is not merely about funding the ministry, but cultivating hearts that are wholly devoted to God. It’s about guiding them towards a deeper understanding of the spiritual discipline of giving. By doing so, you foster a culture of generosity and a deeper understanding of the spiritual discipline of giving that aligns their hearts more closely with God’s will.
Challenging your congregation to give is not merely about funding the ministry, but cultivating hearts that are wholly devoted to God.
We must not underestimate the power of money to turn the hearts of our people away from God. As leaders, we should ask God to instill in us the vision of how we can unleash generosity in our churches. Standing in front of your congregation and challenging them to give is one of the most effective ways to bring your people closer to God. Remember, where their treasure is, so is their heart.
To watch Rick Dunham’s full session from Give Conference 2022, click here.