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7 Insights That Inform How You Talk About Money With Your Church

Date: Feb 16, 2016
Church Fundraising, Church Giving, Church Health, Financial Campaigns, fundraising, Online Giving In The Church, Taking Special Offerings & Church Tithing, Talking About Money With Your Church

Insight #1: Sermons On Money Are Powerful

There have been a lot of sermons on money. Some good, some bad. Some helpful, some not so much. Some true, some completely false. Some normal, some ludicrously insane. In our opinion, here’s what makes a money sermon a good one:

  1. Biblical accuracy. Like all other sermons, money talks need to be true to God’s word. The good news is the Bible has a ton to say about money. Make sure you’re teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word and not cherry-picking a verse to back up what you want to say.
  2. Hope. This is huge. Why? Because God is a God of hope. But most people don’t feel it. They are bombarded with fearful messages from the world. They know that they need to get out of debt and start living generously, but they don’t feel like it’s possible. A good sermon on money will teach them truth, but it will also give them hope in the process.
  3. Help. We have to stop beating people up about tithing and start offering them practical help in other financial areas. In addition to understanding generosity, your congregation needs to learn about debt, savings, and spending. Many churches talk about money for three or four weeks so they can unpack truth in multiple areas.
  4. A next step. The best money sermons have a practical next step that people can take. Maybe it’s a small group that goes through a finance book. Maybe it’s a one-time money seminar. Maybe it’s individual coaching with a trained leader. Maybe it’s a weekend retreat for married couples to fully examine their finances.

Offering immediate help is critical to a sermon or series on money. When you help people, you earn trust.

People in your congregation—and in your community—are struggling with money.

They have questions. Maybe a good move for you is to offer a two-hour financial seminar and open it to anybody in your area who wants to come. Let them know that it’s not a “give-money-to-the-church” ploy. Provide free food and childcare.

There are probably people in your church who are making wise financial decisions. If you can connect them with people who have questions, it can go a long way. You can even form a team with two or three people who are willing to help individuals or couples develop a spending plan. Regularly announce that this team is available. Even people who don’t utilize it will be reassured knowing that your church provides it.

 

Insight #2: It’s Okay To Talk About Money

Many preachers fall to one extreme or the other when it comes to preaching about money. Either they avoid the subject out of fear of offending people, or they harp on the subject and play on people’s emotions.

Like all things money related, balance is key.

You need to talk about money because Jesus talked about money.

In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus said that our hearts will follow our treasure. In fact, if you read all of the Gospels, you’ll discover that Jesus had a great deal to say about the subject. Because Jesus didn’t shy away from it, you shouldn’t shy away from it, either.

You need to talk about money because people struggle with it.

Married couples argue about it. Single mothers worry about it. There’s a good chance that 90% of the people in your congregation have financial pressures. This isn’t a theoretical topic for them—it’s real life. When you preach about money in a helpful way, you’re meeting a gigantic need.

Let’s face it, you’re going to talk to your church members about financial issues. Those conversations, however, are better on the front end than the back.

You can teach them about Biblical finances, or you can counsel them through bankruptcy.

You can teach them to generously fund the vision of your church, or you can beg them for money because you’re way behind budget.

It’s the same with marriage. Wouldn’t you rather teach about—and model—a Godly marriage than counsel couples on the brink of divorce? In that same way, it’s better for you to intentionally communicate what God says about money and model good stewardship for your church body.

People are bombarded with worldly financial messages. You may think you already talk a lot about it. But if you do a four-week series on money, most people will only hear two or three of those messages. Not because they’re skipping church—certainly there’s no one who skips your church services! But because they’re volunteering in the nursery or humbly serving some other area of your church…

…right?

If they do hear (and pay attention to) three sermons, that’s 90 minutes of Biblical teaching on money. Stack that up against the thousands of commercials they see, offers they get in their mailbox and inbox, and sales pitches they hear. Not only should you do at least one financial series a year, you should also sprinkle messages on generosity throughout your teaching calendar. Don’t assume that preaching on money once a year is enough.

When you do a marriage series, devote one of the weeks to finances. After all, money is one of the biggest causes of marital conflict. If you talk about faith, connect it to the idea of giving by faith. If you teach through a book of the Bible, you’ll probably encounter a passage or two on giving and stewardship. Don’t shy away from those passages. Lean into them in a healthy way. Remember, giving isn’t just a financial issue—it’s a measure of where someone’s heart is.

Talk about money throughout the year. In Giving Rocket, we’ll show you how to preach about money and grow your giving throughout the year. It provides simple, ready-to-use solutions and includes several messages.

 

Insight #3: People May Get Mad When You Talk About Money

Some people leave a church because it’s not deep enough. Some leave because the music is too traditional. Some leave because the music is too contemporary and the bass player has a visible tattoo of a sand lizard. Some leave because they don’t like the children’s ministry, the student ministry, the discipleship ministry, or the geriatric women’s recreation ministry. In some cases it’s sad, but people leave churches. It’s always been this way, and it’s always going to be.

There are legitimate reasons people choose other churches. But many times, it’s about personal preferences.

If you’re a pastor who’s willing to talk about money, you might aggravate some people’s personal preferences. You might as well get used to it.

If it makes you feel any better, liars get offended when you talk about lying, and people who are having affairs get uncomfortable when you bring up infidelity. So who knows what’s going on with people when they get mad about you preaching on money. That’s not your primary concern. Whether you talk about faith, sin, evangelism, forgiveness, or money, you’re responsible to preach the truth of God’s Word.

You’re called to “rightly handle the Word of Truth,” which means you can’t always cater to what makes your audience happy.

People might get mad and leave your church when you don’t lead the way they want. But you are where you are for a reason. God has called you and gifted you! If you’re honoring Him and walking in His steps, then you’re being faithful to His calling and your character.

It doesn’t mean you should be insensitive. Sometimes people aren’t offended by what you say as much as how you say it. It’s possible to talk about money in a way that is Biblical, helpful, and challenging without sounding judgmental or condemning. You have to work on it. You can’t be a jerk and blame it on your God-given personality. You can’t be rude and say, “I’m just preaching God’s Word.” Don’t offend people on purpose.

But don’t avoid the tough topics, either. You can handle them with love and kindness and, in the process, be helpful to people and faithful to God’s calling on your life.

 

Insight #4: There Are Multiple Ways To Inspire Generosity

Every weekend, you have the opportunity to motivate your congregation to give. But it’s time to abandon the tired, canned speeches. Spice it up, people! And in the process, you can motivate and inspire people to give.

Here are three tools you can use:

  • Stats. Does your audience know where their dollars go? Do they know how many guests have attended your church so far this year? Do they know many children are in a particular environment, how much aid you’ve given your community, or how many volunteer hours it takes to execute a weekend service? When you offer stats that answer questions like these, you not only highlight specific ministries, you connect the ministry of the church to the offering time.
  • Stories. People who don’t care about statistics often connect with a story. How has Jesus changed someone’s life? How has your church helped a particular family? Which marriages have been restored? What child has placed his or her trust in Christ? Who is going public with their faith through baptism? If lives are being changed, you can explain how tithe dollars make it possible.
  • Scripture. Many people simply do not know what the Bible says about generosity and giving. They don’t know the difference between a tithe and an offering. Perhaps they grew up in a church that misinterpreted Biblical principles. Nothing cuts through walls like the Word of God.

Every Giving Talk from Giving Rocket is based on one of these three things. We take a stat, story, or Scripture reference and write a Giving Talk that you can use in your weekend gathering. It’s a ready-to-use service available to every Giving Rocket member. It’s a great way to inspire and motivate your church to participate in the offering. You can get started for just $1.

 

Insight #5: You Can Invite Guests To Give

We want to reach the unchurched, not steal sheep from other local churches, and unchurched people are tired of the church talking about money. Studies show that people think the church harps on money all the time, so we don’t want to scare them.

This is a common excuse given by pastors for low giving in young churches. The problem is the same with most excuses—it’s just not true.

Unchurched people may not know Jesus, but they’re certainly not stupid. They understand that it takes money to run an organization. They know that you can’t write “Pay To The Order Of Faith” on a check. Plus, they appreciate honesty, whether you’re talking about faith, prayer, or money.

It’s time to stop using evangelism as an excuse not to teach people what the Bible says.

You don’t have to dance around the subject of money out of fear of alienating people who are new to your church.

You can talk about it in a way that’s sensitive to outsiders and newcomers. It may take some skill, counsel, wisdom, and practice on your part, but it can certainly be done.

Some churches encourage first timers to opt out of the offering time. Pastors will tell them it’s for members and regular attenders only. While the intention is good—not to make guests feel uncomfortable—it’s a big mistake. For one thing, it’s not completely honest. You do want guest to participate. Second, you never know how people will respond if you invite them to be part. For that matter, you never really know what your guests are thinking or feeling. They could be dying for someone to offer them a tax write-off!

If you put some thought into it, you can come up with a way to talk about giving that challenges all people to participate and doesn’t alienate unchurched folks in the process.

 

Insight #6: People Give For A Reason

Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “People don’t give to need. They give to vision.” Well, that’s not entirely true. The truth is, people give for a variety of reasons. Just like people have different personality types, they have different motivators for being generous. Everybody in your congregations isn’t motivated by the same thing.

Let’s talk about the five reasons why people make a donation to your church:

Reason #1: They See A Need

The bottom line is that most people will not give without being asked. You need to present the need, offer the opportunity, and then encourage people to get involved. Some people will be moved to give to the needs of your student ministry, a need for facility repair, or for the filling of a much-needed staff position. You probably want to avoid over-communicating church needs to your congregation. But you also want to avoid keeping all needs out of the public eye. Oftentimes, when you present the need, people in your church will step up to meet it.

 

Reason #2: They Believe In The Vision

People want to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves. Let’s face it, keeping the staff employed, paying the mortgage on the church building, and staying current on all bills—not very sexy. It’s important, it’s just not inspiring. But being a part of a church that’s making an eternal difference is a mission that will inspire people.

Like we’ve previously mentioned, stories and stats keep the vision in front of people. When you share stories of real life change and show people the kind of impact their church is making, it connects their financial contributions to dynamic ministry.

 

Reason #3: They Have A Relationship

People give because they have a relationship with someone. Whether it’s with a pastor, staff member, or volunteer, relationships in the church are very powerful. We’ve seen it over and over again. Once people get connected with a small group or volunteer team, they “buy into the church” on a much deeper level.

One of the most helpful things you and your staff can do to increase the generosity levels of your church is get to know people. Don’t manipulate them or invite them to small groups where you ask for money. Just hang out with them. Better yet, connect them with groups and teams in your church and watch relationships develop.

 

Reason #4: They Are Taught How

Many people don’t give because they don’t know how. It’s second nature to you, but you’re innately familiar with how the church works. There are a lot of people, especially people who are new to your church, who don’t fully understand the process. You have to educate them! Tell them why you pass buckets or provide envelopes. If you had never been to church, you have to admit that it’s odd when a stranger sitting to your left passes you a huge bucket with 11 dollars and 37 cents in it. You must explain why. Talk about the process of giving online. Show them how to set up recurring contributions. Let them know that they’ll receive a giving statement for tax purposes.

 

Reason #5: They Want To Obey God’s Word

In addition to stats and stories, you must teach people what Scripture says about giving, stewardship, and generosity. Show people what the Apostle Paul said about giving intentionally, generously, and in response to God’s goodness. Talk about the Old Testament commands to tithe, and the New Testament goal of stewardship. Help people understand what Proverbs says about money.

You can create intentional offering talks built around these reasons. And in the process, you can connect the dots between generosity and ministry.

 

Insight #7: Giving Should Be Celebrated

It’s a big deal in your church when someone makes a decision to follow Christ. You celebrate when someone is baptized. You get excited when someone chooses to serve or get connected.

But it’s time to a celebrate another decision—the decision to trust God by making a financial contribution to your church. With so much skepticism about the church these days, it’s a giant step when someone overcomes their concerns and entrusts you with their money. In essence, they have decided to part ways with their hard earned money and give it away to help your ministry thrive. That’s a major decision.

And it’s also a spiritual act.

When people give money to the local church, it’s a sign that their heart is beating more in step with Jesus. It’s about faith more than it is about finances. Your church should rally around their decision.

That’s why you should send handwritten, personalized thank you notes when someone tithes to your church for the first time. It’s also why you should appreciate—and update—people who support the ministry on a regular basis. It’s not about manipulating or showing favoritism—it’s about helping people follow Jesus with their whole heart. Yes, you are funding your operation. But much more than that, you are leading people in a healthy and humble way.

One of the greatest benefits of jumping in with Giving Rocket is not just that we’ll help you talk about money, but we’ll also show you how to appreciate your givers. 

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