You are 2 ½ times more likely to see an increase in giving after preaching a series on giving rather than preaching on stewardship once or even twice a year.1. If that is true, why is it that so many pastors fail to even preach one sermon a year on stewardship, let alone a whole series? It’s been my experience that many are unaware of the impact preaching on stewardship can make. Others are afraid any talk of money will drive people away. So, one of my first tasks, when I start coaching a pastor, is Making a Case for a Stewardship Series which is the title of this edition of the Coach.
The problem is that the majority of pastors simply don’t like preaching on anything related to money. Here is my reply to that. “Tell me what you don’t like, and I probably agree with you.” Typically, the answers I get when I ask that question are based on past sermons that were built around guilt. Guilting people into giving never works past that Sunday’s sermon. No one likes that kind of preaching, including preachers. The other kind of stewardship preaching I often see or hear is preaching on giving solely as a command to be obeyed. Yes, the Bible commands giving, but I want people to give from a heart of gratitude, not servitude.
That is why you are probably not thinking about preaching on stewardship the same way I am. My goal and focus for stewardship preaching is discipleship. Here is how I summed up my view from last week’s Coach:
“As pastors, one of our goals should be to capture people’s hearts when it comes to giving so they can experience the blessing and joy of a life of generosity. We don’t give to get, but I have found that giving leads to financial security. Why would you not want members and guests to hear how to order their lives in such a way as to have financial security?”
You’re not going to drive people away with a stewardship series if you do it right. Christianity Today recently reported on a study done by Grey Matter Research entitled, 9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long. Here is a quote:
Grey Matter reported that few young churchgoers are bored with preaching; just 10 percent of those under 40 want shorter sermons. Of those 70 and older, 11 percent would like the pastor to preach shorter.
And younger evangelicals are the ones most likely to want more in-depth teaching from their churches. Evangelicals under 40 are twice as likely as their seniors (39% to 20%) to want more substance from the pulpit.
“Virtually no evangelical churchgoers wish their church would lighten up a little on [in-depth teaching], but three out of ten would like more of it,” according to the Grey Matter report. “So maybe it is time some church leaders push just a little bit more in terms of the depth of teaching they are providing.”2.
Maybe it’s past time you pushed out more substance with a killer stewardship series! Your fears are unfounded.
Helping pastors to get over their fear of preaching a series on stewardship is one way of making my case. The other way to make my case is to show you how to plan out and preach a series on stewardship. To that end, here are some key thoughts I wrote a few years back.
- Teach don’t preach! No one likes to be preached at. So, make your series come off more as teaching life principles than being preachy. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
- Make it positive. Most sermons I hear on giving are laden with guilt. They are “ought to” sermons given to a crowd of which 99% already know they “ought to” give. Don’t beat your listeners with the altar Bible, show them the positive benefits of a life of generosity.
- Make the series about the stewardship of life, not simply about giving to help you make the budget. There are so many passages that teach God blesses those who are generous. Yet, often, those you are preaching to are not giving because of poor financial decisions that leave them, in their minds, with little to no ability to give. Show them another way. Set them on the path to freedom so that they can discover God’s blessings.
- Be creative. You know if you polled the congregation, a series on giving would not be ranked highly. So, make those that come to listen to you want to come back. Use whatever means to make the series winsome and attractive to your listeners. This will require work on your part. Engage your staff if you have a staff to help you. Use a group of lay leaders if you must. Whatever you do, make the series engaging and thus more impactful.
- Put it on the calendar and then work toward that date. It will be easy to discard this edition with all that you have to do. The tyranny of the urgent will press in upon you. Before you know it, you will have forgotten about this and then a week will go by, followed by a month and then another month.
It’s time to stop putting off planning out your next stewardship series! For stewardship series ideas see the Bonus Section.
What is more important? I work with churches that preach a series every year on either serving in some ministry at the church or the importance and value of joining a small group. How much time and energy do you think they put into those important and much-needed messages? Compare that to how much time and energy they put into a stewardship series, which most seldom if ever preach. Is serving in a church more important than giving to the church? Both are acts of worship. Why is one elevated and the other shunned?
Pastor, I believe that in many ways, it is because we have had a bad attitude about preaching on stewardship. I want to change the conversation about how to preach on biblical stewardship. I wrote the book, The Forgotten Sermon: How to Preach On Giving Effectively, a few years back. I would love to write a new edition called The Remembered Sermon: How Rediscovering Preaching on Giving Reversed the Decline in Giving. You can help me by starting plans for your next stewardship series. If you do it right, you not only increase giving for this year but for the years to come.
The 21st Century Sermon is my working title for next week’s Coach; the final of my three-part series on preaching on stewardship. As I have been writing, I’ve been exchanging texts with my friend, Dr. Jason Bunger, pastor of Hope Church in Dayton OH and an adjunct professor at Moody Theological Seminary, for his thoughts on the topic. I think you will find the topic interesting. Let me know your thoughts on the 21st-century sermon.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach
- Barna, George Barna. How to Increase Giving to Your Church. Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 1997. 93
- 9 in 10 Evangelicals Don’t Think Sermons Are Too Long…… | News & Reporting | Christianity Today