Talking about money is generally not an appropriate topic in day to day conversation. We wouldn’t dare ask a neighbor or coworker how much money they make or how much they spent on their last big purchase. 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 in America to have about $132,000 in personal debt according to Bloomberg’s 2016 report. The message of the world and the real impact of debt has placed a huge burden on the average family. It’s no wonder that the topic of money and finances is so difficult to address in the Church.
As an Executive Pastor, I generally prefer to be behind the scenes. 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 and with conviction talk about money. This is what I learned.
- The Bible is clear. From Genesis through the New Testament the Bible clearly states that we are to be people that live a life of generosity. We are encouraged to give to the church (Malachi 3:6-10). We are 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 is clear on matters of giving we must be faithful teachers to proclaim the message of Scripture.
- Giving is part of discipleship. Matthew 28:18-20 is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. Here Jesus gives clear instructions to the disciples who would form the early church. His instruction to them was to “make disciples.” He further expresses that this process of disciple making takes place by going, baptizing, and teaching. The Bible goes one step further and asks for us to teach all the instructions of Jesus. Jesus clearly taught on giving and generosity, so we must teach generosity and cultivate generous Christians. This is how we fulfill the Great Commission in our churches.
- 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 we don’t just see the church singing and reading the Bible. An example of this is in Acts 4 were we are introduced to Barnabas who sold a field and brought the proceeds to the church. From the beginning of the Christian Church, giving is a part of worship and an expression of how we give thanks to God (2 Corinthians 9:10-15).
- Encourage people to take the next step. You have different types of givers in your church. Some don’t give at all. Some give regularly but not much. Others give a tithe and meticulously calculate the 10% of their income. Still others give generously above their tithes. Our ultimate goal for every believer should be generous giving, but most people won’t be able to take that big of a step. It might seem impossible for someone on a fixed income to go from never giving to giving a regular tithe. We need to challenge people to take the next step.
- Some people won’t be able to give if we don’t teach them basics of 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. 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.
- Giving is all about faith. If you talk to a seasoned giver they will probably tell you a couple stories 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. When we talk about giving we need to encourage people to take that step of faith.
After a while I realized that I shouldn’t be afraid or challenged to teach people about giving. I could be bold and speak with conviction, because giving should be a part of every Christian’s walk with God. The Bible often calls us to be countercultural (Romans 12:1-2). No matter what the world around us is saying, we need to speak boldly about giving to God.