How I Learned to Love Preaching about Money

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Few subjects are as fraught with danger for the unsuspecting pastor than preaching on stewardship.

“Beware of preaching on money.”

That’s not in the Bible, but it ought to be.

And somewhere in the Proverbs we could insert this one:

“He who preaches on money to a new congregation should expect the honeymoon to end abruptly.”

Few subjects are as fraught with danger for the unsuspecting pastor than preaching on stewardship (money, giving, tithing, contributions to the Lord’s work, greed, materialism, however you want to put it).

As a new pastor of a church that had broken ground for a $5 million sanctuary just before I arrived, I found we were running behind the budget and were facing some hard financial decisions quickly. So, I did what I had always done in previous churches with a fair amount of success: I preached on giving.

It seemed the logical thing to do.

In fairness to myself, I wasn’t harsh or demanding, legalistic or judgmental. I thought my approach was balanced and scriptural.

Almost immediately, I began receiving anonymous notes from longtime members, all saying pretty much the same: “We are not used to our pastor preaching on money all the time. Please stop.”

I got the message.

There is no use in doing something the congregation is rejecting.

Another approach would have to be found. (I never did find it, and my ministry there—which got off to such a rocky start—lasted a very short three years.)

The preacher is in a no-win situation. If the money to support the church program does not come in, he gets blamed. The staff’s ministries grind to a halt (or are seriously curtailed) and the pastor, being the point man, is accused of not inspiring the congregation to give. However, in order to get the money in, he has to talk to the congregation about it, whether in sermons or letters or other means, depending on his creativity.

If the congregation rejects this direct approach, there is nothing more to be done. (At least, nothing I could think of at the time.)

The next church I served had a different kind of financial problems. Eighteen months before I arrived, the previous pastor had split the church and taken away a group to begin a new congregation. I came into a church with millions of dollars in debt but a fraction of the income they had received prior to the upheaval.

Guess what I did.

Right. I preached on money.

I came up with a cute idea—or so I thought.

Joe McKeever After five years as Director of Missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner where he's working on three books, and he's trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way. He loves to do revivals, prayer conferences, deacon training, leadership banquets, and such. Usually, he's working on some cartooning project for the denomination or some agency.

More from Joe McKeever or visit Joe at http://www.joemckeever.com/mt/

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  • Jaspher Earnest

    Very useful

  • Silas

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us doing this season of financial struggle for many congregations…

  • Daniel

    The one thing that I concur in this article is that one should speak/preach giving at some point, when led by The Spirit (not the need). However, The Scriptures that were given does not specifically deal with stewardship or giving.

    Jesus pointed out to not favor things of this earth over money.

    The widow that gave all she had was dealing from her heart and possessed the faith that The Lord would supply her needs, which would not be much, considering she was poor. But most (probably 99.5%) members (parishioners) would not give all the money that is in their possession or control in the good ole U.S. of A. or any other nation.

    The money collected by Paul from the outlying churches (Corinthinans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc.) was for the ministry to help support the Israelites in Jerusalem. They were the “God’s people” that Paul was referring to. He was requesting the Gentile and Jews of these other cities give to support the ministry of the first apostles.

    None of these stories specifically speak of giving and tithing on the basis that is necessary or would be practical.

    Actually, tithing is under The Law of Moses (Old Testament). We, Gentiles and Jewish people live under The New Covenant (Testament). If we are to live by the law of tithing then we should follow the tithing law to the letter. I have never witnessed that in my entire life in all the churches and denominations I have been privy to, but I do study to show myself approved and Malachi 3:10 is not as scary as people are led to believe.

    God loves a cheerful giver. So when you give, do not give out of necessity but for the love of God and His people. (para.) God will ensure His church will survive and not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it.

    Those of you with church buildings/ministries/organizations in need…step out and hold on in faith. For God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. Believe!

    • Patrick

      Abraham lived before the law and he gave Melchizedek (king of Salem) a tenth of everything.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Maikzone Michael Bell

        Patrick, I think you will find that Abraham gave a tenth of all the spoils that he captured from his victory over Chedorlaomer; so that was not necessarily Abraham’s personal wealth, however Abraham was totally yielded to God; money was not the issue. If you want to raise how Abraham came before the Law consider this: the covenant of circumcision made between God and Abraham is not a part of the New Covenant; so how much more is tithing not a part of the New Covenant. However, if you want to tithe that is up to you but don’t impose it on others. Well written Daniel.

  • Brian

    Lack of giving in the church isn’t a knowldge issue, or a lack of asking issue. It is a heart issue. If people have a coreect understanding of their relationship with our Lord, if they have a REAL relationship with Him, the giving will come naturally. After all, if the Lord has your entire life….He has your wallet as well!
    Not to say teaching on the subject or even asking isn’t needed. But when we preach and ask until we’re blue in the face and still don’t have the funds….maybe the issue lies in a more basic area….