“Why do pastors always talk about money at church?” It’s a question I’m asked every now and then when someone finds out I’m a pastor.
When I ask what they mean, they say that when they go to church it seems like their pastor always talks about the financial needs of the church right before the collection plate is passed each week, and asks people to give more money to help meet those needs.
On top of that, pastors preach sermons about money from time to time, and some of those sermons also seem meant to motivate people to give more to the church.
In essence, what they’re saying is they believe that pastors talk so much about money, and they ask their people to give so often, that it makes them feel uncomfortable about how they manage their own finances, and a little guilty about how much, or little, they give to the church.
So why do pastors and churches talk about money? Is it meant to make people feel uncomfortable or guilty? Do we do it too much? Here are three reasons why pastors talk about money at church.
Three Reasons Why Pastors Talk About Money
1. To invite people to help the church fulfill her calling to impact the community and world.
When people ask me why pastors always talk about money, I usually begin my reply by jokingly saying,
“If you think pastors talk too much about money at church, you should see what they do at the grocery store. Every single time I go there and put something in my cart, they ask me for money. And when I go to the doctor, he asks me for money too. When I go to the gas station, they ask me for money. When I go to the movies or out to dinner, they ask me for money. Come to think of it, wherever I go, people are asking me for my money in exchange for some service that they provide for me.”
My point is this: No business, organization, or ministry survives without money. Businesses charge their customers for the products and services they receive. Churches do not (though they may charge a fee for a particular class or workshop). Instead, churches invite people to give to meet their financial needs so they can accomplish the work God called them to do, and serve people who cannot repay.
Our ultimate goal as pastors in asking people to give is not to make budget, save for a new building, fund programs, or employ staff. We need to show people how their tithes make a real – and eternal – difference in the lives of real people through the daily ministry of the church inside the four walls, across the street, across town, and across the world.
2. Jesus talked about money a lot! In fact . . . .
- Jesus talked about money more than He talked about heaven and hell combined.
- Jesus talked about money more than anything else except the Kingdom of God.
- 11 of 39 parables talk about money.
- One out of every seven verses in the Gospel of Luke talk about money.
- About 25 percent of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels relates to money, stewardship, and the resources God has given us.
Why did Jesus talk so much about money? Because…
3. There is a direct correlation between what we do with our money and what we truly believe.
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). In other words, where and how we spend our money is a reflection of where our heart is.
As pastors, we have an opportunity to not just ask people to give, but also a God-given obligation to show them how to earn it, save it, and give it in a way that honors God. That’s why a lot of churches offer money management classes and coaching.
I think we can all agree that the world does not tell us how to spend our money according to biblical principles. So where else will we hear this? It needs to come from the church.
But if you think pastors and churches talk too much about money, and ask people to give too often, consider these facts:
- Only 4% of Americans tithe (give 10% of their income to their church) according to a 2011 survey by the Barna Group.
- 25% of American Christians gave away no money at all (according to a 2008 Christianity Today article – from which the following points are also taken).
- The average regularly attending churchgoer gives 6% of after-tax income (but it was noted that this figure is skewed by a handful of very generous givers).
- The median annual giving for an American Christian is $200 – just over half a percent of after-tax income!
- About 5% of American Christians provide 60% of the money churches receive (it’s these people who skew the average mentioned above).
What this tells us, I believe, is that few Christians really believe that their money belongs to God and that they are stewards of the resources He has chosen to entrust to them. Few make a priority commitment to give from the heart. Most of us just “tip” God by dropping a few coins or bills in the plate here and there.
I believe pastors and churches probably wouldn’t need to ask for money if all Christians gave at least the 10% tithe. Our church has tested this assumption by holding a “Tithing Demonstration Weekend” once a year, where we we ask everyone to tithe 10% of the income they earned that week. Our goal was to see how much money would be received if everyone tithed. We’ve found that our income increased by nearly 50%!
We also challenged non-tithers to a 90 day Tithing Challenge to give tithing a try for 90 days and see what would happen in their lives as a result. After the challenge, we heard amazing stories of how people grew in their faith and watched God provide for their needs when they committed to giving Him at least 10%.
Of course, if you can’t give 10%, you can start where you can and try to add a percent every 4-6 months until you get there. But don’t stop there. Keep on going, and growing, in the grace of giving.
I don’t know how it is at your church when the pastor announces it is time for the offering, but at our church, people applaud and cheer now when the time comes. Why? One simple reason: because God loves a cheerful giver, and more and more people in our church are learning to give with gratitude, from the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).
What about you? Are you growing in cheerfulness and generosity when the offering plate comes your way in church, and when the pastor preaches on the subject of money? Leave a comment below!