Speaking of money in church

The spring issue of Leadership Journal had me with the cover and then continued to reel me in with article after article on two of my favorite topics – money and ministry. I could have done without the tagline, “Funding your ministry without losing your soul.” But I understand the editors’ dilemma. It’s likely the journal’s predominantly clergy readership wouldn’t have read on without the disclaimer.

And I’m okay with that. If disclaiming gets pastors and other church leaders talking/thinking/preaching stewardship, disclaim away.

holy_bible_text_11021You’ll want to track down the money issue of Leadership Journal for yourself, but in the meantime, here are snippets from my heavily highlighted copy.

  • Jeff Manion, pastor of Ada Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI, on developing a culture of contentment

The chief inhibitor to generosity isn’t greed; it’s fear. Fear of not having enough. And the only remedy for fear is trust. Trust and generosity walk hand in hand, and it is really difficult to pursue the generous life while scared. God delivers us from fear as we trust our Father to unleash generosity.

When a person begins to tap into generosity, they’re dialing into a core of God’s character. Trying to squeeze dollars out of individuals who do not comprehend grace is futile.

A generous spirit is cultivated by acting magnanimously; allowing small, insignificant insults to evaporate rapidly; forgiving faster; being gracious with individuals, whether it’s the person in the checkout line or someone taking too much of our time. That generous spirit is called relational generosity – financial generosity is a subset of that. A person who is staggering financially can grow in multiple areas of generosity, knowing that the financial area will flow out of the others.

  • John Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Park (CA) Presbyterian Church on tithing, law and grace

Tithing is a bad ceiling but an excellent floor.

Tithing is not the last word in generosity; it’s the first word. But it’s a word that God takes with deep seriousness; perhaps because when human beings get vague around finances, they grow deeply evasive.

Tithing was never meant to be a way to ‘pay our debt to God.’ It has always been a training exercise to cultivate a generous and God-centered heart.

  • Tim Stevens, executive pastor at Granger (IN) Community Church on to know or not to know about individual giving

I’ve heard pastors say many times with pride, ‘I don’t know the giving records of anyone in our church. I want to be able to treat everyone equally without giving favor to someone because of the amount of money they give.”  This sounds great and preaches well. . . However, I really question whether it is wise.

Wouldn’t it be strange for a pastor to say the same thing about volunteering? ‘I don’t want to know who any of our volunteers are. I want to spread myself equally among those who give none of their time to the church as much as with people who volunteer 20 hours a week.’ That would be ridiculous.

. . . it comes down to what we believe. Do we really believe there is a spiritual gift of giving (Rom. 12:8)? If so, why would we not spend some time and energy in discipling (equipping) givers to grow in their generosity (Eph. 4:12)? We don’t apologize about identifying and equipping those with gifts of teaching, administration, mercy, and serving. Why not also identify and equip those who have the spiritual gift of giving?

HERE’S AN IDEA. Order two copies of the money issue of Leadership Journal, passing one along to your pastor. A week or so later, invite him or her to coffee and a chat about the contents. Knowing there’s a stewardship champion in the pews may be all it takes for a shy preacher to get up and say what needs to be said about money and the life of faith.

For more on this topic, see:

Ten reasons why people become generous stewards

10 things pastors should remember about giving

For faith and generosity, it’s deja vu all over again

 

Comments

  1. dorothy gish says:

    Our pastor at Carlisle BIC Church sees that each board member gets the Leadership Journal. So, I had read this giving-packed issue. Thanks for highlighting it.

    • What a great idea. It’s helpful for boards to engage in common readings, and what better way than for all to be provided with subscriptions to a magazine or journal that the CEO/pastor values. Thank you for mentioning this, Dorothy.

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