Why Do Pastors Always Talk About Money?

Giving at Church

“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!

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33 Comments
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  1. A good article. I can definitely reasonate with the third one. However, one time I “worked” with a pastor who apparently used to work for Dave Ramsey (and used that for his resume) mostly cared for the rich people in his congregation (at least in my view). To be fair, he was in a tough situation since the church had a big mortgage when he was “called” to be the pastor at that church. I am not sure if I was really reasonate with that kind of behavior, though. It became very obvious as more people were leaving and other church staff were resigning. His successor did a great job bringing people back and actually increase the attendance and members, though.

    • John, thanks for your comment. I wonder…do you know if that pastor ended up finding a good fit at another church? Or did he find that pastoral ministry wasn’t a good fit for him after all?

      • Hi Rich. He was unemployed for a bit – doing some consulting work (used to work for Dave Ramsey is a good resume). Then I think he got a job at a non-profit organization. I think that he would’ve been a good administrative type of guy, not sure if I would consider him to be a good pastoral material per se.

  2. #3 is a great summary of the Bible’s teaching about money. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21. I love the positive affirmation from this quote from the article: “Christians [should] really believe that their money belongs to God and that they are stewards of the resources He has chosen to entrust to them.”

  3. The wife of a young married couple made broccoli one night for dinner.

    “Yuk! I hate broccoli!” exclaimed Hubby. His wife duly omitted broccoli from the menu and nothing else was ever said. One day, about thirty years later, she thought: hey, tastes change, let’s see. I found this recipe and it looks great.

    That night, the new recipe was put to work and broccoli made its encore appearance. As hubby sat down and saw the broccoli, he was aghast. “What!! Broccoli again!!?”

    Some people are just fixated on some things, what can you say?

    On a more serious note, not all pastors talk about money. Ours almost never does, and there is no offering. There’s a box in the back of the church and you do your thing with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. The Lord provides and the church is in the black.

    Of course, there is one other thing our pastor does: he spends less money than comes in. Simple prudence, and a way to not let money become more than what it is: a simple tool, one of several, to get the real job done.

    Generalizations never apply to all cases. (And I just made one there, didn’t I?)

    • William, thanks for the broccoli story, and also for sharing your church’s experience with the giving boxes. :)

    • This is great! I often questioned why a church would need to know what individuals give…unless they are seeing it and keeping record of who gives who does not.

      Instead of talking about money for a third of the service(I Went to a church like this) why not make a list of the needs(electric bill, office supplies, etc…) and let the people see the list and have them pray about what God would have them give to help keep the ministry working and sustained.

      Pastors want the congregation to give by faith and hope God meets your electric bill, but they want a guarantee….they don’t practice what they preach.

  4. douglas

    I have witnessed the power of tithing and i know how God blesses one who gives willingly. I have seen the hand of the Lord that blesses. People should not think that their giving the 10% to their pastors but they should know its God they are giving thanks to.

  5. I give gladly at my church on Sunday. I know that the money goes where it is needed. I have no doubt about that.Thank you for this thoughtful article and God Bless You!

  6. Great article! Love the story you used in the beginning. It makes a excellent point.

  7. Sadly, a fourth reason might be because the church is struggling to pay the bills. You put it well in your third point. If the church body was already giving generously, there probably wouldn’t be any reason to mention money!

    • Zach, thanks for your comment. Yes, a lot of churches are struggling to pay the bills. I think it is best if the pastor communicates the need in terms of the church’s mission and vision that will be accomplished by people’s giving, rather than the fact that it needs to pay the bills.

  8. I recently read George Muellers book again. Without ever making his need known to people the work that was accomplished was incredible and all the glory went to God.

    I appreciated your article and the thoughtfulness of your experience. The one thing that always puzzles me is why pastors assume that all who attend church are Christians. Maybe all the Christians are already tithing. Maybe the giving is the true representation and rather than a message on giving a message on salvation, baptism, or surrender to God in all areas is really what is most needed. The tithe or lack of it is just the symptom, not the disease. And the Pharisees all gave a tithe diligently but still did not even recognize the Messiah.

    • Carol, yes, it is important to remember that in any church there will be some who haven’t yet crossed the line of faith. And that should always be the case, if we’re active in inviting people to come to church.

      I have always been inspired by George Mueller’s example. I fully believe he did what God called him specifically to do. But I also contrast his work with that of the Salvation Army, which began in England around the same time as Mueller’s ministry and is still going strong today. The Salvation Army reaches millions of people for Christ in nearly every country in the world, and as we know from the red kettles at Christmas, it has never been shy to invite people to partner with them to do the work God called them to do.

  9. I would urge every pastor to teach people on money matters since it does not only benefit the church but the congregation too. It is easy for people to give when they understand the principles and when there is accountability too.

    Thanks for the article.

  10. Walt S.F.

    As a newcomer to the Church, I have found this topic to be the most uncomfortable for me. It’s been difficult to give what I feel I “should”, (I make a nonprofit salary and am determined to be financially secure in the future) but at the same time I give what I can and always of my time. It’s what I feel most called to do and has helped me see that time is also a treasure and giving it generously has been more of a blessing than I can explain.

    • Walt, thanks so much for sharing your insights as a newcomer. I hope you feel welcomed at the church you are attending. I am praying that you’ll feel God’s smile on your life as you take new steps of faith and grow in the grace of giving. And you’re right, giving of your time is a valuable gift as well.

  11. “There is a direct correlation between what we do with our money and what we truly believe.”

    I agree with that. However, if we accept this is true then telling/teaching people to give is surely the worst response, as it doesn’t change what they believe. It is not dealing with the root of the issue. I think Paul says if you are not a willing giver then it profits you nothing, so why not build people up in the Gospel so that they give freely?

    Personally, I am uncomfortable with the Church talking about money. People shouldn’t be coerced into giving. It strikes me as religious, rather than Christian.

  12. Good article, and point of view. Funny it has been my experience is that many pastors avoid talking about money, because they don’t want to percieved as money hungry, they still have bad memories of the church scandals of the 1980′s. But many are coming around to the fact of the importance to talk more about it, for the reasons you gave.

  13. James Corbin

    I’m always amused by pastors who say the Ten Commandments were only for the Israelites and have not much other use for the Old Testament except for the topic of tithing. Suddenly, this is something that carries over from Old Testament to modern times! They could at least be a bit more consistent.

    • James, yes, I would agree that if a pastor doesn’t think the Old Testament is relevant, there is a problem. They may make the point that we are no longer under the law but under grace. And I agree with that…and that’s why I think the tithe is a great place to start, but not stay at, when it comes to our giving.

  14. Johnny Upsdell

    Great article, and comments. As I person who is learning to give more (im not a pastor but support a church plus other ministries) and have been increasing my giving over the years I want to share a few thoughts. I have in church long enough to have heard similar statistics before (that people don’t give regular 10percentage and will blessed if they do). I also saddly that quite often (no not everyone) but often the causes or churches asking for money are to maintain building expenses and salaries, you could argue that these things ultimately are bless people and I would agree. The question does come eventually what did the jews spend their ‘tithe’ on. It wasn’t buildings actually, that was covered under he temple scheckel (bad spelling). There was a levitical tithe, a tribe that did support the temple but were mainly based near levitical cities and were priests in the temple for briefly periods of time. There was also two festival tithes, and also the poor tithe. To be complete I worth studying first fruits, since that is different specific gift, and no 10 doesn’t come before 1. Although ‘tithe of tithe’ was the first and the best. If you reading and think I am talking nonsense, I only takes 5mins to check Wikipedia or consider what Rabbis think about tithing. My long point is all those churches that were pushing for more money never mentioned anything like this (my two favourite forbidden truths is the verse that talks about the people cashing in their tithe and spending it amount other things on hard liquore! Also the context of Malachi, crazy a book clearly written to the priests is used to put pressure on people.) Anyway, to my point when spent a lot o time reading about giving he bible, I really did learn that giving is important but the story of why we give changed for me. God has already poured out his eternal love to us, and through Jesus we are now under grace not law. If I believe that then ultimately giving is how I express my gratitude, not due to old testament law (and yes I do know about malkesidek and jacob, the other thing people never told me though was that malkesidek was a Babylonian priest). Also
    , giving is so important that it is important what we give to as well, people who run churches will always have a bias to paying off buildings and salaries. I just think you should know how any organisation you give money to is spending that money and I think in some cases people shouldn’t be giving as much since the money isn’t spent well (maybe only a few cases but still it happens). It amazing to me that giving to the poor is all though the nt and there was also that poor tithe, and yet this is far less of a push than giving to church organisation. I am not saying in any way that giving to church isn’t worth while (I do regularly give to a church) but give having a good idea of what they spend. I also give to charities that are devoted to making a difference in their communities, practically show Jesus love. My final point is a do this because god has ‘made me rich’, Compared to so many others I may not have much but I get clean water out of tap and can flush my toilet, therefore I am already in top 20percent in the world. God has already blessed me through Jesus death, and as gods kingdom advances I need to make sure my finances are helping that cause. The law of paying 10percent doesn’t actually give me motivation it just let’s me know whether I meet a certain percentage requirement. If churches want people to give more then preach gods love and people’s suffering, all churches should be continually looking at what they are doing with the money they have not what they don’t have.

    If anyone thinks I was having a laugh with what I said about tithing just let me know and I’ll post a complete list of bible verses that talk about tithing. It took me a long time going through but there really is a lot more to the story than , ‘test me in this, give 10percent’.

  15. I have enjoyed reading to the comments in addition to the original post. @Johnny – yes, I did that same research and the Jews actually gave 20%. 10% to the temple maintenace which they no longer do since the temple is destroyed (instead they do offerings to their local congregation that are not a %) and an additional 10% to the poor or organizations that help them.

    One of the things that is important to me is the scripture about not letting the right hand know what the left is doing. I tithe/offerings in cash and do not report it on my taxes. I don’t want any report within the church or gov’t of how much I’m contributing, and more importantly I want the Lord’s knowledge rather than men’s. The story of the widow’s mite made a big impression on me. 100% not 10% is a more challenging goal.

  16. Linda M

    My pastor gave a talk on tithing and offerings. He said “test me in this” Many did in our church family and our church giving has increased . Many families have been blessed over and abundantly by God. The math doesn’t work on paper , but if you give 10% all your needs will be taken care of. I don’t feel bad when the plate is passed, I feel blessed that I can give. After all It is God that has given all that you have… and He can take it away.

  17. Tithing is not ever mentioned in the new testament, in fact it states we are not to give out of need or necessity but from the goodness of our hearts for God loves a cheerful giver. Jesus also mentions the pharisee how they boasted of their much giving, his example was the meager giving of a woman who gave all she had and the value was placed not on the monetary value but the love by which the giving was.
    I find most pastors who preach money constantly always also preach faith and belief in the reciprocation from your giving, ask yourself where is this faith placed in concern for the needs to be met for the church or as this person states the seeds sewn into the ministry of the person and their calling.
    If they are called of God then they will not make a habit to constantly ask for that which they know God will sew into their ministry, for the calls is not theirs but God’s. So I say that there is faithlessness in the everyday worry over finances and that displeases God.
    This minister said God talked more about money then anything else that’s utterly ridiculous, I suppose in a conversation without context then by numbers only he may be right , personally I focused on behavior which i personally feel Christ spoke about far more than money, I mean i could count the times Christ talks to us about our attitude and where sin creeps in due to behavior.
    Personally i think behavior is spoken of far more than money and even the behavior towards money. Consider the lily’s of the field for example.
    If constant pressure from a pastor is coming every church night or morning and the conversation is always made about a need for this or that, then one needs to ask and start a dialogue with their minister. There is a difference between what convicts him and what convicts the church, his calling may place him in an area where he feels compelled to participate in, that does not mean by association you have that burden as well. Give with gladness not out of pressure, be mindful of your needs and do not overextend yourself.
    The analogy of the grocery store and the gas station doctor and such are basic needs of your family and yourself. They must be met, he that does not provide for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.
    If your pastor feels a need to involve the church on missions givings and then overextend the missions to a multitude by which the church becomes strained to meet and yet still preaches tithing youth group giving etc etc etc then he is taking on too much to sate his own pride and not considering the flock. The Shepard must feed the flock not shave it to absolute baldness so they die in the winter of their life. God is not pleased with these money hungry churches, if pastors preach faith let them then live it as the example.
    Jehova Jira, God is our provider.

    Any other doctrine is one born from manipulation.
    Go with God.

  18. Post script, I believe in giving to bless people, I give, of what I refuse to say, for who ever brags of their much giving or speaks to what they give, they have their reward already as per Christ, whatever you do, do it faithfully unto God, not man. Let no man shake your faith, for God is pleased by obedience over sacrifice.
    Your money is minute to God he prefers your will, your life and your dedication over your dollar, God will always make a way, even if it is out of the mouth of a fish.
    One thing to note in impoverished nations these ministers that preach so do not do it in poor countries, I never see the name it claim it prosperity preachers doing that in Africa Indonesia Malaysia or any other extremely poor nation, it simply does not happen, and if your pastor sales it as a tax deduction then there is your reward, it inst about altruism any longer and the real reward cannot be reciprocated because the purpose is no longer a sacrificial giving but one done to escape a certain bracket.
    The Love of money is the root of all evil, greed kills a willing soul.

  19. Tina Martin

    I work in the treasury department at my church, so I know what comes in for tithes and offerings. My pastor said he is going to ask if 50 people could commit to giving $200/month on top of their tithes and offerings to help out with the bills of the church. I also feel sometimes he preaches on money a lot. it seems like every Sunday, he’s talking about money in his sermon and says if you don’t tithe, you’re cursed with a curse. Now, if Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us, how can we be cursed if we don’t tithe? He ties our tithe into our health, wealth and other things if we’re not tithing. I have been struggling with this for quiet some time now. I love my Pastor and my church, but this money thing has become a bit much.

    • Tina, thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear that your pastor seems to using guilt and manipulation to get people to give.

      I don’t believe we are cursed for not tithing, like the people of Israel were cursed in Malachi’s day (Malachi 3:6-12) when they gave God left-overs and tried to get by with giving Him as little as possible. But I do believe a sure sign of our allegiance and obedience to Christ is our cheerfulness and generosity in giving back to the Lord a portion of what He’s given to us, and I believe God honors and blesses our generosity.

      I’d be interested to know if you keep records of how many households are giving? Do you have a lot of families who are giving nothing, or who perhaps seem to be giving very little? I think it would be better to do a tithing challenge that encourages non-giving families to start giving something, before you ask those who are already very faithful givers to do even more.

      • Darlene

        Just a general question, is it right for a pastor to give to someone in need and remind them he did it? My daughter has been struggling , my father gave her 80, which I am to pay back, because I always have paid back money that I borrowed from him, because I have the guilt of not paying it back. But when she called him to, my advice to talk to him about her situation, he reminded her he had given to her. I have always believed that if you give to someone in need, you don’t ask for it back, nor do you mention it to them that you have helped them recently. I know this may seem as a bad thing to say, but it really bothers me.

  20. You have to admit there are some TV preachers that talk about money a whole lot more than they do anything else. I was thinking about the “hundred fold return” gimmick they push at those telethons on TBN. Why don’t the preachers send us the money, and then THEY would get the hundred fold return. Makes sense.

  21. Carmen A. Mahon

    I understand the principle of tithing and offering, and at one time I tithe off my income before taxes were taken, because this was money earned before I had to pay the government, And I felt that I was a cheerful giver. When I lost my job, I continued to tithe and it was very difficult and started to become a rare occasion, I couldn’t pay my bills and my praise and worship, and prayer life I felt was strong. But then something happened. I began realizing, especially at special events or service, by Preachers who would visit or be a host for something special. You get there and it was a positive strong sermon and service, but throughout the service there would be little drops on do you want this or that, do you believe this or that, and when the service is summed up, they lay on you giving back and for some preachers the amounts would be large, as you stand in faith believing God would provide, and those who didn’t – basically you don’t believe, or you won’t get your blessing or something like this. And for me this is a complete turn off. I don’t have a problem giving separate as an offering because there service is good, but to make me feel as if I won’t be blessed because I didn’t give, Many of the mega churches do this and my own church did a powerful series only to tell us by showing a huge stack of papers that were suppose to be the monthly bills and how we weren’t this or that for not doing our parts. And then scriptures come out where because this was your last, and you gave it, you will be blessed. I think this is when it is wrong. What do you think? I believe there is more to the bible then is being taught, which makes us all feel as if we are lacking, and prayer, praise and worship should really be strong and powerful, and not to hurry this up in order to get home and watch the sports events on TV. I want, yes, however, isn’t our faith, belief, trust and hope in God, as well as prayer suppose to be the tools to teach us about debt, savings, tithing and if we are to be rich, how to be without being financially abusing, Giving and receiving and so many other tools in the bible is what we should be incorporating into every area of our spiritual walk, right?

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