By Paul Rice
Have you ever considered teaching about money in church, but decided against it?
If you answered, “Yes”, I'd bet you have one of two reasons in mind:
People might see me differently.
People might get offended and leave.
Most likely, your fellow pastors wouldn’t blame you because they’ve experienced the same reaction from people, even over the small things. As one pastor jokingly said, “Sometimes, people leave or get upset because you sneezed while you were preaching.” Sarcasm aside, you can probably relate.
The fear of offense and misperception runs deep in the human psyche. In ministry, it can lead you to avoid teaching on certain topics, like money, to the detriment of your congregation. However, for the benefit of the people God has placed in your care, you must press through those fears. A small church pastor who dealt with his own fears in this area realized:
“I think what we have to move away from is being afraid of what people will say, and really preach and teach the whole counsel of God. It’s selfish to withhold something beneficial from your church because you are afraid of how people might perceive you.”
In these next two articles, I want to help you understand why talking about money in church is so important and equip you with an approach that shows people you actually care about them and aren’t just after their money.
Before we discuss how, let’s discuss WHY you should talk about in your church.
Reason #1: You Care About People
If you are a pastor, you probably care about people.
Jesus cared about people too, and that’s exactly why Jesus talked about money... a lot. In fact, over 1/4 of Jesus’ recorded parables, and even more of his teachings, address people’s relationship with money.
Jesus talked about money so frequently because He understood that people’s relationship with money was a direct reflection of what they valued. As He said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
People are naturally attracted to money because they care about things they need to survive. However, caring too much about money can lead a person to depend completely on money instead of God.
A high level of dependence on money results in stinginess and selfishness, the opposite of what God calls us to be. Instead, you should help people not only see that God is their source of provision, but also what their relationship with money should look like - a generous lifestyle.
If Jesus showed His care for people by correcting their relationship with money, then you can too. In this way, you show people that you care about health in ALL areas of their lives, even finances.
NOTE: You might need to address your own relationship with money before helping your congregation with theirs. Maybe you need to go through a devotional, workshop, or finance class. Whatever that looks like for you, make sure you have a healthy relationship with money before trying to help someone else.
Reason #2: People Struggle with Their Finances
Money struggles are real.
Only 50% of American households save for emergencies and about 55% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The average American has over $29,000 in student loan debt and the average car loan has topped $30,000!
In short, the average person feels financially stressed, and that means you have people in your church that do too.
Over and over, Jesus urges good stewardship over the resources God has given us, especially financial resources, and for good reason. Not only can mishandling money impact our relationship with God, it can also have negative consequences for our relationships with other people and our individual health.
In many studies, like this Family Relations journal article, disagreement over finances is cited as the number one reason for divorce. Additionally, the American Psychological Association says money is the leading cause of stress for Americans.
By teaching on personal finances, or providing an outlet for financial education, you are literally helping people worry less and potentially saving a marriage, things God cares about tremendously.
Reason #3: People Want to be Generous
Before your next worship service, ask people the following question:
Do you wish you could be more financially generous with other people?
You will likely get answers similar to, “I would love to, but I don’t have enough money to be more financially generous.”
This is completely understandable, considering a majority of people live paycheck to paycheck. Many people want to be generous, but feel like they can’t because of their financial situation.
I’ve always said it this way: “You can’t give what you don’t have.” It is very difficult for people to be financially generous with others when their own needs are barely taken care of. However...
What if you could show people how healthy finances can help them meet physical needs AND fulfill their God-given desire to be generous? What if people could be more generous with their church and community because they’re not perpetually strapped for cash?
This vision of a more generous church advancing God’s kingdom is a driving force behind this blog and podcast.
Pure motives are only half of the equation when it comes to teaching about money. People respond to what you actually say, not just your intentions. That’s why how you talk about money is so critical.
In the next post, I will share some practical strategies you can use to start a conversation about money that will engage people instead of offending them.
Until then, if you haven’t broached the topic, I encourage you to reconsider preaching and teaching about finances for the sake of the people under your care as a pastor.
God cares about people’s relationship with money, and as disciple makers, we should too.