I get it, it's not fun to talk about money as a pastor. Sometimes it feels like all we do is have our hand out for one thing or another. We see the hucksters on TV talk about their private jet (because you can't stand and worship in coach) and their lavish lifestyle. You're scared to upgrade your beat up car because you don't want people making comments.
But pastors, we shouldn't be scared to talk about money. Jesus did. Of the 38 parables recorded in the Gospels, 16 of them deal with money/possessions. Almost 300 verses in the Gospels are connected with money. (HT to Preaching Today) Jesus covers the spectrum, calling for the rich young ruler to sell everything he has, commends the widow for her small offering, declares that camels can squeeze through needles more than money lovers can enter heaven, and reminded us that we are to render to Caesar what is his.
Why should we preach/teach/talk about money as pastors?
1. The way we handle money is a mirror to our worship - I've always said the ways to tell what someone's worship and devotion are to look at their calendar and checkbook. If we hang on to our money like a miser and fail to give sacrificially, we've proven what we really worship. We can sing and shout all we want, but the rubber meets the road in our worship when it comes to what we're willing to give as a sacrifice.
2. Giving is theologically rich and pragmatically necessary - First the necessary: you have to pay your bills. Utility companies are a blessing but they like to get paid to keep the lights on. Ministry costs money. The outreach drive? It costs. The church fellowship? It's not free. The staff to lead and equip? They have mortgages. But beyond the pragmatism is a rich theology of giving. God gives incredibly gracious and generous to us in how He provides, and the way we give back is a theological treatise far more than any systematic textbook.
3. Giving leads to a generous spirit - Teaching about giving is a spark towards cultivating a culture of generosity. Generosity is more than money. Generosity means giving our time, opening our homes, pouring into the lives of others, fostering hospitality, deepening fellowship, and more. Generosity comes when we realize what's ours isn't really ours to start with, and for many of us that begins with our finances.
4. A Giving Church is a Healthy Church - I know we've all heard the horror stories about churches that hold pastors and ministries hostage with giving (a handful of people withheld their giving until they get their way), but the overwhelming number of churches are fertile ground for health. There's no magic number for how much a church should have to be a healthy giving church, but if a church is marked by generosity, it'll permeate every layer of the church climate.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.