10 things pastors should remember about giving

Unless you’ve been asleep for the past 20 years or so,  you’ve likely heard about the not-so-funny thing that’s happened on the way to church.  Research reports, one after another, tell us that North America’s pastors have decided not to talk about money. Except for the once-a-year obligatory stewardship sermon, seldom is heard an encouraging word from pulpits about the joy of faith-filled generosity.

It’s little wonder that giving by church-goers in Canada and the United States is not what it once was. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, we can’t expect folks to hear what no one is preaching.

So when my friend Nate Yoder, bishop of the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church, mentioned that he had included a presentation on stewardship during a Pastoral Enrichment Day, I was all over it. Nate checked with Emerson Lesher, president of Messiah Village and author of the presentation, who graciously granted permission to post his “10 Things I Want Pastors to Remember about Giving” here at Generous Matters.

Check out Dr. Lesher’s challenge to a group of should-be stewardship educators.


  1. Don’t pretend money isn’t important. Integrate talk about giving into everything. Spend time thinking about it and creatively raising it.
  2. Be challenging and inspiring when preaching giving, but don’t threaten, intimidate, show desperation, or spiritualize.
  3. Present a winsome case. You’re up against stiff competition from other non-profits. So don’t shy away from doing well in this area and don’t assume the church is entitled to your parishioner’s gifts.
  4. Keep the congregation informed about where the church stands financially and how each person’s gifts make a difference.
  5. Don’t make assumptions about who in the congregation has money and who doesn’t. And don’t play favorites or go on appearances.
  6. Involve youth and young adults in giving, while paying attention to generational differences.
  7. Understand the connection between giving and expenses. The church’s finances are not just about gifts/income, but expenses as well. Make good business decisions.
  8. Let people know they can talk with you about giving and overall stewardship of their resources.
  9. Remember that people pass through different stages of life and financial situations.
  10. Say thank you. Have a grateful spirit.

Talk back: What do you want your pastor to remember about giving?

For more on this theme, I hope you will (re)read the following posts:


  1. Wm. Enright, The Lake Institute on Faith & Giving says:

    Good counsel: “Say thank you!” Ah, but what does that mean and how is it done? Is the generic public thank you printed in a newsletter or mentioned from the pulpit sufficient? When was the last time you received a personal letter of thank you from your pastor? If pastors don’t know who gave what how can a thank you be personal and meaningful? Something many churches can learn from nonprofits!

  2. You’ve raised great questions, Bill, and I know what you are asking will have pastors squirming — especially those who are adamant that they don’t want to know who has given what to the church (which I think is a silly and self-defeating stance). It’s nice to know that pastor appreciates the generosity of parishioners, but when the thank you isn’t to someone in particular, it feels a lot like it’s to no one. Obviously you and I are on the same page on this one.

What's your take on this topic?

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