Let’s Change the Conversation About Money and Giving

Let’s Change the Conversation About Money and Giving

A few years ago, I asked a pastor what my biggest obstacle was in helping him increase giving at his church. He replied, “My staff.” I thought he was kidding until I held my first meeting with his staff. I walked into the room to bored looks, and everyone had their arms crossed across their chests. I looked at them and said, “Last year, giving at this church declined for the first time to a tune of $458,000. In this room, your leadership met to discuss cutbacks and layoffs. I’m here to help reverse that decline.” Everyone sat up and leaned in. Suddenly the conversation changed.

In my last issue of the Coach, I started a series on taking up the offering in this crazy COVID impacted world we live in. Last week’s title, and the point, was that everything rises and falls with the offering when it comes to being fully funded. I’m continuing the series on taking up the offering with the title and direction, Let’s Change the Conversation About Money and Giving. Unless I can convince you to change your attitude or the attitude of your staff, your offering will never be what it could be, and you will always struggle financially. So, let me share why we need to change the conversation.

In my opening story, which occurred exactly as I wrote, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the staff’s initial reaction. I find that staff and, often, the Senior Pastor are some of the biggest obstacles I face when attempting to help a church increase giving. Why is that? There are several reasons, but most of those reasons are based on incorrect assumptions leading to erroneous attitudes and actions. I will get to that in a moment. Here are the most common reasons the staff leadership pushes back against talk of money.

  • The staff leadership “thinks,” I’m proposing policies that will drive people away when they are working hard to attract people.
  • The second reason is they are jealous of the platform time during worship, and giving any time to the offering takes what they see as valuable time. Therefore, churches spend more time on announcements than the offering.
  • Another reason is that it requires additional work, and, in their view, they are overwhelmed as it is.
  • The final reason is uglier. They struggle with being good stewards. The cold reality is that in many churches, not everyone on staff faithfully gives to the church paying their salary.

To be fair to my peers, few, if any, have ever been trained on anything stewardship related. Most never even think of the finances of the church. It’s an out of sight, out of mind, sort of thing. All of this adds up to the typical church never saying anything about money and giving. And we wonder why giving is declining?

Last week I borrowed a line from my old boss, John Maxwell, who famously said, “Everything rises and falls upon leadership.” When it comes to changing the conversation about money and giving in the church, it must start with our leadership. You cannot lead your congregation to a place that you and your staff are not already at.

How Does the Staff/Church Change the Conversation About Money? The following are some key thoughts on how.

  • Be like Jesus. Jesus talked more about money and finances than any other topic. If our Lord saw the importance of talking about this topic, why would we not follow Him and do the same? Let’s let the Bible establish the conversation. Jesus called us to make disciples and a part of discipleship is being a good steward.
  • Stop letting the desire to attract a crowd determine our agenda when it comes to talking about money and giving. I’ve heard the stories of churches asking the community what they don’t like about the church. The answer was that we always talk about money. Yet, what if we misinterpreted the answer to that question? I believe we have misinterpreted the answer because Americans are giving to charities in record numbers and dollar amounts. I contend that it is not that churches ask for money that turns people off, but how we ask.

    Basically, we have made people feel guilty by telling them what they ought to do rather than giving reasons why they should give. Whether we like it or not, we have not positively set the agenda or conversation. What results is that we too often apologize when asking for funding rather than simply sharing the importance of giving. The church needs to set the conversation and not retreat from it.
  • Have a compelling vision and tell a compelling story. You must connect how a dollar given to your church impacts the world for good. I call that connecting the dots. Non-profits are masterful in telling their story and asking people to give to support it. People give to a compelling story! Make your story compelling, and people will give to it.
  • It’s not about money. It’s about missions. The Church is in the business of bringing the Good News of Jesus to a lost and dying world. Missions start at the church’s parking lot and go around the world.
  • It’s not about money. It’s about ministry. Who visits you when you are in the hospital? It is not your Congressman! Who counsels you when you have a crisis? It is not Dr. Phil. Gifts to a church allow that church to do ministry. That ministry impacts people locally, but it also impacts me. My gifts are returned to me through meaningful ministry that I can get nowhere else.

The amazing thing is that the church ministers to people whether they give or not. I can’t get into a health club without paying dues, but no one at the church shuts the doors to people who haven’t paid their dues. When I give to my church, I am giving to ministry.

  • It’s not about money. It’s about obedience. Who is it that complains most about churches talking about giving? Lost and carnal people complain. People who lack obedience to the call of Jesus complain about giving. True Christian disciples understand that giving is a part of being a believer. It is an obedience issue. When I give to my church, I am being obedient to the call of Jesus. And, God blesses those obedient to His command!

Non-profits never apologize for asking for donations. Yet I have heard countless sermons on giving begin with the minister apologizing for talking on the topic. If we truly believe that what we are doing is God’s work, why would we hesitate to ask Christians to support it generously? Let’s stop apologizing for asking for money to fuel missions and ministry. It is high time we set the conversation about giving in a new light and context. This Sunday, make giving about missions and ministry and see what a difference it will make.

What happens if we fail to change the conversation about money and giving?

  1. Our members will struggle to become good stewards and thus fail to reach their financial potential.
  2. Your church will struggle to be financially solvent at a time when giving continues to decline.

Are your arms uncrossed? Let’s Change the Conversation About Money and Giving.

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

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