There are few topics that scare pastors like raising money. After all, you were neither called nor trained to be a professional fundraiser. It can, understandably, be intimidating.
But Jesus said people’s money and people’s hearts were connected.
That makes money a spiritual issue, not just a financial one.
That puts money right at the heart of how a pastor should help people.
You can't make disciples without getting into financial stewardship. And you can't lead a healthy and growing church without leading people into generosity. These two things go hand in hand. In more ways than one, the stakes are high.
Don’t abdicate spiritual leadership by refusing to talk about money in a healthy way.
In addition to being a spiritual entrepreneur, teacher, counselor, and outreach specialist, you are also a fundraiser. Many pastors shy away from this reality, deciding to delegate financial responsibility to a group of people.
But this cannot be delegated. This is something to be learned by example. You must lead well in this area, and in order to do so, you must talk about money.
Here are the three ways to talk about money in church.
1. Talk about money consistently.
Every week when you receive an offering, you have the opportunity to cast vision for your church.
Before you receive an offering, take one or two minutes and explain the “why behind the what.” Use Scripture, testimonies, video, and creativity to connect the dots for people. Here are some ideas of what you might say during this time:
- “In just a few minutes, we’re going to receive an offering. It’s something we do every week here at Cross Church, and here’s why…”
- “Every week, we receive an offering and it helps make all of this possible. Today, I just wanted to let you know what we do with the money you give. 42 cents of every dollar goes to…”
- “Do you know there are actually four other services happening right now? All over this building, children are learning about Jesus. Your gifts make this possible…”
- “Before our ushers pass the plate and we receive an offering, I just wanted to share this verse with you…”
- “In just a minute, ushers are going to pass the plate and people from all walks of life are going to make donations to the church. Before we do that, I wanted to show you this video of the impact this church is having in one family…”
I bet if you spent one hour brainstorming, you could think of 15-20 more creative, inspiring, and effective ways to “set up” the offering time in your church. You’re already receiving an offering; why not make it more meaningful to those who give and more effective at the same time?
A healthy approach to talking about money in church is not built around preaching tougher sermons after a few weeks of low offerings. Instead, be intentional and plan your communication throughout the year, carefully deploying your key messages at strategic times.
Your communication calendar might look something like this:
- Every week – a short giving emphasis in the service just before receiving the offering.
- Every week – thank you notes to those who give for the first time.
- Every quarter – extended time in a sermon talking about money or a stand alone message on Biblical stewardship.
- Every quarter – email or printed updates to the donor base, sharing stories and results.
- Every year – a stewardship series on giving, saving and spending.
- Every year – an emphasis on digital giving and recurring contributions.
- Every year – launch financial education like I Was Broke or Financial Peace University.
- Every year – a “thank you” event for all donors and volunteers to cast vision for the future.
2. Talk about money with purpose.
Non-profits around the world know the power of communicating with their donor base, but local churches leave so many opportunities on the table. The people who contribute to your church need to hear from you more than the annual contribution statement required by the IRS.
Your donors are a part of a larger story. They aren’t giving to pay the bills or repair the roof, they are giving to advance the gospel around the world. They are giving so the world may know Christ and so their neighbors might experience grace. They are giving so children can learn about Jesus and the community will know the church is for them.
Make sure you let every donor know what they have given and what’s happening with their donations. Make sure they hear stories.
Here are some ideas:
- Send a video recap of ministry highlights along with a PDF of a donor’s giving statement.
- Let children in your children’s ministry write thank you notes to those who help make ministry happen.
- Turn a baptism picture into a refrigerator magnet and send it to all of your donors with a thank you note.
- Send a letter encouraging donors to set up automated, reoccurring contributions.
- Pull your staff or key volunteers together and write personalized thank you notes to accompany a giving statement.
Make sure you’re connecting their contributions to a greater story. These stories are not just opportunities to say thanks; pepper them throughout your church service and mix them into your member communication.
Paint a bigger picture and tell a greater story.
3. Talk about money with hope.
Jesus had a lot to say on the subject of money, so it should frequently show up in your preaching.
But your stewardship series should not just be about giving money to the church. When you talk about money, be sure to talk about more than just giving.
There are a lot of people in your church who feel generous, but don’t yet act generously. They have a generous spirit and they want to give. But for whatever reason, they believe they are not in a position to make a significant contribution.
As a pastor, bring people along—don’t beat them up.
Help people with their finances. Talk about spending, savings, and debt. Preach on the broader issue of stewardship. Offer people help and hope.
Talking about money is so much more than talking about giving. You want to talk about whole-life stewardship. You want to help people with 100% of their money, not just ask for 10%.