Money and church.

Whenever you combine those two subjects, it can get tense.

Pastors walk the line between avoiding the subject and using guilt to get people to give.  Are we talking about it too much?  Are we not teaching it enough?

Maybe that tension should never be resolved.

When you consider money and the church, and the larger principle of stewardship, here are three truths that might be hard to hear.

#1 – People don’t give just because something is important. 

A lot of people are passionate about a lot of causes.  And there are a lot of important causes in the world.

But just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to someone else.  And just because you’re passionate about a project doesn’t mean anyone else will share that concern.

There are lots of important causes that go unfunded.

That’s why leaders must not solely rely on passion or vision to raise money.  More inspirational sermons filled with a bigger vision of the future might not be enough to encourage someone to cross the line of generosity.

People generally won’t give to something they believe is unimportant, but they don’t necessarily support everything they believe to be important either.

#2 – People spend their money in unwise ways.

Every year, Americans spend $350 million on Halloween costumes.

For their pets.

That’s a lot of money for what I think is a pretty silly thing. But apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t see it like I see it.

Chances are, if you looked at my spending, you’d label a few things as waste.

That’s because we all have different financial priorities.

You can teach people about money.  You can show people what God’s Word says about stewardship (see Romans 13:8, Proverbs 13:11, Exodus 22:25, Deuteronomy 15:7).  You can challenge people to give generously.

But you don’t really have a say in how people spend their money or what they feel is important.

This is why laying on guilt or encouraging people to skip the cup of coffee won’t usually motivate someone to give.

#3 – The church is not people’s only source of charitable giving.

In 2019, Americans gave $390 billion to charitable causes.

Only 32% of that went to religious causes.

In fact, people are generally reducing the amount of money they give to churches, even as charitable giving is on the rise.

As church leaders, we know giving to the church has a tremendous ripple effect throughout the community.  But individuals in your community are dividing their donations among several causes they deem equally worthy.

For a family, they may decide to give a set amount of money.

Then, they will divide that between the church, the Humane Society, and the national faith-based non-profit.  In their minds, it’s all coming from the same place and going to good causes.

If you want to read more about national trends and statistic, here is a great summary.

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Talking about money in church doesn't have to be awkward.

We've created a guide that helps pastors and church leaders with finances and discuss them in the church without feeling like you're guilt tripping people. The Senior Pastor's Guide to Stewardship is an insanely practical eBook that will help you navigate why people aren't giving, ways to increase giving, and more.