On Monday I talked about stewardship preaching and/or preaching on money. That brought to mind an article I had seen last fall from Leadership Network. If you missed it, it is worth repeating here. It’s not really kosher to just cut & paste, but I don’t know how to point to the original of this. If you do, let me know and I will edit this to that I only give excerpts and point to the entire article.
Churches that embrace generosity and benevolence often avoid talking about giving money to the church. Some churches view it in conflict with stewardship ministry, which is to communicate what the church wants for its people, not from its people. However, churches occasionally but inevitably must conduct capital campaigns, the very nature of which requires asking people in the congregation for money. This built-in tension can be avoided with prayer, planning and advice from other churches that have successfully navigated those waters.
Televangelists of the last generation make discussions about money uncomfortable in the church. But Larry Dean, president of INJOY Stewardship services, asks, "Why are we trying to protect people from God’s work? If it doesn’t make sense, it won’t make sense to God’s people. If it does, it will make sense to God’s people."
One church focused on "honesty and results" in its most recent capital campaign. Because everyone agreed the church was crowded, talking about a new building wasn’t a surprise to the congregation; the idea of a campaign was actually met with applause. Another church, located in an affluent area, admitted that money was a hot-button issue for their members. Their stewardship pastor advises, "To convince people to participate in what you need before you convince them that you care for them—that’s too difficult to overcome. You have to talk about money before it’s a need." Other pastors advise church leaders to cultivate a culture of stewardship, stressing that the need of the giver to give outweighs the need of the recipient to receive.
Other advice about "money talk" from the pulpit:
- Don’t tiptoe around the subject. Don’t be secretive. Talk straight. Go in through the front door. Whispering and talking behind closed doors actually makes it worse.
- A focus on giving is an opportunity for your church. Many pastors worry about whether their congregation will step up, and that somehow their response is a referendum on the pastor’s leadership. But giving is a lifestyle issue. Some families who make a good living still spend more money than they make. That’s an opportunity for the church to step in and provide discipleship.
- View stewardship as a process. Be patient. Offer incremental steps; if they aren’t giving, ask them to give one percent. If they are giving one, could they give two? This feels more manageable.
- Consider using a consultant in some cases. Even churches with stewardship teams can occasionally use outside guidance. Consultants are helpful in studying trends and avoiding pitfalls. They also have proven methods to train leaders and manage the stress of a capital campaign.
Excerpted from Alexis Wilson, "Avoiding the Money Conflict" Leadership Network, 8/26/08.