Pastors, don’t say these 7 things about money to your church
When pastors talk about money, they have a list of things they commonly say. Some are more helpful than others. Below is a list of things pastors often say, but don’t motivate people to give. I’m sure I’ve said most of them over the years, or some version of them. But I now think I was wrong.
1. You ought to give (or give more). A sense of obligation does not motivate people What does motivate them: a conversion of the heart and a commitment to a clear vision. In your preaching and teaching, stand alongside people in their quest for greater freedom, and stand in front of them telling them where you’d like to go.
2. Please give so we can meet our budget. You will receive far less for a budget than you will for a vision.
3. Our culture is too materialistic. While your people may need to grow in their relationship to their stuff and their shopping habits, bashing materialism will not help them grow. Instead, try celebrating the alternative vision the Christian faith offers.
4. If every one gave (fill in the blank), we would have plenty. No church has givers who all give the same. People do not have equal resources, or equal motivation. The “equal share” approach to stewardship is a fallacy.
5. Money is the root of all evil. You know this is not biblical – the quote is “the love of money…” Sometimes we act like money itself is evil, when in fact, given and used properly it can be a great blessing. I’d love for churches to celebrate that blessing more.
6. Don’t worry if you can’t give more. At least, don’t say this one too much. If people can’t give more, they won’t. You may need to give permission to those whose circumstances have changed through job loss, divorce or other life change. But don’t make excuses for people in advance.
7. Nothing. They need you to say something. It may be that any of the above is better than saying nothing at all. Your people need to hear from you about money.
All of these approaches to the conversation about money make people feel bad, try to constrain them, or expect little from them. What I want for the people in our churches is greater spiritual freedom in relation to their resources, and for them to experience the joy of giving.
Read thisto see what you can say instead,
Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources. Margaret is the author of Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry and MoneyandYour Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance. She served as a pastor for 15 years.
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