Money is one of the most prominent life topics, so why are church leaders so shy to broach the subject? Just peruse the internet for the biggest headlines and you will discover topics like the economy, government waste, Wall Street roller coaster, countless articles on how to earn money quick and easy, or how to feel better about yourself while shopping. Then, open your Bible and search for words like money, treasures, gold, silver, etc. The Bible actually has a lot of great stuff to say about money. So, before I provide some simple, quick, and easy ways to discuss money in church, let me remind you of how we got here.
The money conversation at church has been largely influenced by three major epics.
First, the 3-year capital campaign industry has limited the money conversation to big donors with deep pockets for major projects. Over the past few decades this fundraising strategy has been the leader in the clubhouse.
Second, in the 1980s several national ministries came under fire for misappropriation of funds, moral failures, or spurious fundraising tactics. These individuals garnered national attention for years and the church took the hits. This led to a long period of silence in the church. Quite simply, pastors were afraid to discuss the topic and sought to avoid all appearance of association with the church money issue.
Third, over the last 15 years a few national events have highlighted the need for a new money conversation. The pain of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Recession brought financial need to the forefront in our nation, communities, and homes. This led to a new conversation in pop culture of generosity. It could be seen with Extreme Home Makeover, Oprah’s Big Give, and American Idol Gives Back. Still, the church has been hesitant to re-engage the conversation. So here are some tips to help overcome fear and build confidence.
Fun Ways To Talk About Money
- Start Small- Church leaders need to be aware that they probably exist in a poor money culture for two reasons. First, people may still be holding on to the myth that all churches can’t be trusted with money. Second, most pastors have been absent from the conversation so you do not have a strong history or culture to lean on. Ramp up the conversation slowly over time before going big. If you go big to start, people will question your motives.
- Be Personal- Share a personal story of how God has been at work in your life teaching you about money. Maybe he met a need unexpectedly, provided beyond your wildest imagination, or has just revealed to you simply how blessed you are. Be personal and practical.
- Lead Well-You will probably need to disciple your staff on what the Bible says about money. If you have been silent, then few have been growing. Your staff and church leadership look to you to lead the way so pick up the towel and serve them. You may want to read a book together like, Plastic Donuts by Jeff Anderson, The Genius Of Generosity by Chip Ingram, or Leading A Generous Church by yours truly.
- Pray Weekly- During your weekend worship service pray for the careers, financial provision, and needs of your people. I am confident they are most likely under-discipled in this area. They are chasing the wrong things, worrying about the wrong stuff, and unaware of the powerful ability of God to provide. They need a money shepherd and a God who cares about their finances.
- Read Scripture- God’s word is full of his promises to provide for our needs. Each book of the Bible contains tremendous principles to apply. God is never-ending in his promises about our futures. Take the time to lead your people, allowing God to speak to them about one of the greatest life pressures.
- Reveal Process- You are probably going to need to build confidence in the subject. If people are assuming that churches do wrong things with money or are nervous about trusting your church, then help increase their confidence. Share openly about the checks and balances your church has in place. Talk about how wisely you invest money to make a difference. Don’t hide financial facts or important items about your books. Handle God’s money with the highest regard so that you are never afraid to have a money conversation.
- Deliver A Message- Or even better, try an entire message series on money, but never mention the word tithing or giving to the church budget. (I am for both, by the way.) Topics you may consider addressing:
God Is A Giver
Money Is A Blessing
Lies We Believe About Money
Giving Like God Is Fun (How does it feel to give a gift?)
God’s Principles For Money
God’s Promises For Your Future
- Thank Them- Your church is making a difference every week in the lives of kids, youth, and adults. You are changing the face of your community and a heart on the other side of the world. Thank your people for their generous spirit. Show them how their money is making a difference. Celebrate God’s resources going through your church toward the kingdom. It’s okay to talk about money in church. God created it to bless our lives and bless others through us. He wants our lives to flourish pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Get confident. Redeem the topic. Refresh, renew, and release your people.