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What Happens if You Fail to Preach on Money

Mark Brooks more from this author »

The Charis Group

Date Published: 8/30/2013
Clergy often tiptoe around the topic of money as if they were taking a walk through a minefield.

Sixty-eight percent of American church members reported that they had not heard a sermon on the relationship between faith and personal finances in the previous year! Robert Wuthnow discovered that fact in  a study a few years ago. Wuthnow stated in his report that “clergy often tiptoe around the topic of money as if they were taking a walk through a minefield.”

My own personal experience in the stewardship ministry confirms what countless studies have found. Simply put, sermons on stewardship and giving are rarely heard if ever from the pulpits across America. While there are some exceptions to this, on the whole the vast majority of preachers ignore the topic like a plague. 

At the beginning of every engagement with a church we probe to discover what kind of stewardship climate exists in the church. Sadly, we find that most rarely if ever talk about stewardship. At best it might be an annual sermon or for the rare few a series of sermons on giving.

Americans used to give 3.11 percent of their incomes to the church but now give only 2.4 percent. I believe our failure to teach stewardship is a leading reason for this decline. What is the result of this failure? Here are a few that are impacting the church:

We are in danger of losing a generation of stewards. It has been said that Christianity is always one generation away from extinction. While Christ ultimately sustains His church, there is indeed a kernel of truth to the above statement. Perhaps nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the area of stewardship. 

Multiple studies have shown that giving as a percentage of one's income has declined significantly since the Great Depression. Each succeeding generation of Christians appears to be less committed to giving than the last. One cannot help but think that the failure to talk about money plays significantly into this decline.

Our offering plates are emptier as a result. It is no revelation that giving as a percentage is declining in America. The lack of stewardship education and expectation are leading reasons. In the book Passing the Plate, the authors found “good evidence to think that low expectations in Christian churches for financial giving contributes toward the unimpressive financial contributions of American Christians.”

We have robbed people of one of the great joys and rewards of the Christian life. Either we believe the Bible is true or we don’t. We cannot pick and choose the passage we think our people might like. Avoiding preaching on stewardship ignores the truth that giving brings great joy and blessing to believers. We are made to give and not teaching people how to be responsible in this area robs them of a crucial Christian discipline. Giving is not only about the church it is also about the giver. I need to give for my own well-being not simply to add to the churches coffers.

We endanger our ability to do ministry and missions. At the end of the day if you do not effectively teach stewardship you will find yourself limited in the amount of ministry you can do. In the current economically challenged times that we are going through the ministries that are suffering the most are those that have not focused upon stewardship. They are the first to have to cut staff and ministry. While no church is immune to recessions and giving challenges, those that are consistently preaching stewardship raise more funds to fuel more ministry than those that ignore the topic.

A few years ago Bill Hybels, in a roundtable discussion with pastors, made the following comment, “If I could do one thing differently at Willow Creek it would be how we would approach giving and offerings.” He recognized that in our rush to avoid criticism of talking too much about money we have not talked about it enough. It is not that people mind that you do talk about giving it is more in how you do talk about it that matters.

Cast a compelling vision, and you can talk about giving to support it.


Mark Brooks is the founder and President of the Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions.

Anne
August 31, 2013
Hi I just want you guys to understand something about giving.You guys please you do not use the bible like a tools to force people to give to you because of your selfish needs.The apostle Paul ask people to give because their is a poor Israel Christian who need a help.Apostle Paul did not use Christian money to buy his own car or his house or his jet plane or live a wonderful life."No,No,No and No"Stop robbing people and preach the true gospel .My God is not a God of Money but He is a God of life.More you give More you receive is not a true gospel because God is not a casino God [delete comment]
Anne
September 1, 2013
You guys still give God an image of a beggar.God is a giver.In the OT tithe is for the Jewish people and even that Jesus Himself came here and live among us.He never talk about tithe.But he always say give to the poor.Tithe is to give to the poor who really needs.and Jewish people do not tithe every month like Christian people do.When you go to some village in Africa or India you will really know the truth about who God is.Give to the needy that is what the Bible. [delete comment]
Zachary Bartels
August 31, 2013
All of these "why would definitely need to be absolutely sure that we speak on X" posts just reveal the problem with primarily topical preaching. Just PREACH THROUGH GOD'S WORD (either expository messages through books of the Bible or using a Lectionary) and all of these topics people either avoid or dwell on week after week will come up in the concentration that God wants the to. I've been going back and forth between a book of the OT and a book of the NT for years and I've preached occasionally on money, on sex, on marriage, on workplace ethics... but you know what I preach on the VERY MOST? THE CROSS! Because I'm not "choosing topics." I'm preaching God's Word--the stuff I'd have sought out anyway as well as the stuff (like that "women covering their heads thing I had to preach on two weeks ago) that I never would have chosen to tackle if I were "choosing topics." [delete comment]
Minister Sanders
August 31, 2013
The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver". People are not giving the way they once were is because they aren't allowed to give freely from the heart. We try to force or people to tithe when we don't have to.People also are afraid to give due to many preachers manipulating their members with the "prosperity Gospel" and prospering due to those tithing, while the people in the congregation continues to be deceived and continues to give while struggling financially. People will give freely and cheerfully with love from the heart when we first let them know that "Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."-2 Corinthians 8:9 We must first show God's people how God gave cheerfully and freely for our sakes, and then we must teach them about being good stewards over what God has blessed them and how to be a blessing to God, his people, and the empowerment of his ministry through cheerful giving according to the purpose of God's Love within their hearts God Bless You All and Keep Standing On The Wall For Jesus!!!! [delete comment]
Richard Murray
August 30, 2013
This has been the topic of many conversations, and people are being led in some cases to believe that they no longer have to tithe, this is wrong, God commands the the tenth, but the offering is a tool God uses to bless the giver, if you sow sparingly you will reap sparingly. Its up to you. But look at it this way. Paying your tithes and offerings is something you get to do because you are blessed with a job and income. So talk to your people about tithes and offerings, to ignore this part of your responsibility, is to rob God's people of and opportunity to worship God in their giving and thus ensure that every need can be met, and that they receive their blessings as well. Remember Malachi 3:8-12. [delete comment]
Friend the tithe is never bound upon Christians. Rather, as Christians we should give as "the Lord has prospered us." We no longer live under the Law of Moses, which commanded a tithe. The whole book of Galatians was written to combat using the Law of Moses as a standard. Nevertheless, I hear folks use Moses' law to command tithing but I never hear anyone teach Deuteronomy 14:28-29 that every three years don't give a tithe to the church but give it to your community. You can't have it both ways. You can't say on one hand God teaches Christians to tithe but then don't follow the law concerning tithing. Your best bet is to stick to NT teaching on the subject. [delete comment]
I understand that the law has been abolished as through it no one will be.justified. But my question is to what extent? can I now commit murder? can I now covet, can I now steal because the law of Moses doesn't count? No, that makes no sense. sure we understand that we are in.need of grace but the law is still the law. So is God's law of stewardship and giving. we won't be saved by it, but the principle stands forever... everything we have our ever will have.comes from Him. we give to him as a demonstration that.we believe.this truth. 10 is just a starting point. and our faithfulness to this truth will open the floodgates of heaven in our lives.. just some thoughts.. [delete comment]
John Collier
August 31, 2013
I understand what you're saying Clay, and I agree with you, however, Gen 14:20 says Abram gave tithes to Melchizedek. This was BEFORE the law. Also, Lev 27:30 says the tithe is the Lord's. Then, of course the familiar passage, Mal 3:8-12. But not focusing on verses 8 and 9 look at 10-12, the PROMISE of blessing. There is so much more that can be seen from scripture, but for the sake of time, lastly, look at II Cor 1:20 where it says ALL THE PROMISES of God are yes and amen. The blessing that come from tithing is a promise. Let's do it and receive the promise. We can't beat God giving!! Love you my brother! [delete comment]
Guy Landers
August 31, 2013
John,we should also look at chapter 17 of Gen. God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his seed about circumcision. This also was before Mosaic law. Yet we don't demand circumcision on our male children. There again we are picking and choosing. As Christians we need to adhere to the New Covenant. We also need to understand the dividing line between the old and the new. Hebrews tells us it is a blood covenant, meaning blood had to be shed, thus making the cross the dividing line. Many people don't understand this or have never thought about it. In reality when Christ walked on earth during his ministry they were still under the old covenant. The new covenant is from the cross forward. Tithing is not found there but giving is. [delete comment]
Anne
September 1, 2013
Dear John .abram tithe is not that God tell him but he did because of his will.Not because of any law.And also Abram is the father of tithe and he did only once and even he was rich later he still not go back to tithe ask a Christian people are doing every month.That is not biblical.And tithe is use to bless poor people.And remember that when you talk about tithe is not about money is about everything you have who can help poor people. [delete comment]
Guy Landers
August 31, 2013
Amen to what you just said Clay. If we are going to be New Covenant churches then that is what we should be. We can't pick and choose what we want from the Old Testament. Galatians 3:10 clearly states that a man is under a curse if he is under the law. If you keep one you have to keep them all. I agree with you totally. [delete comment]
Anne
September 1, 2013
You are bless Clay Gentry.God bless your family [delete comment]
Gail Surrago
September 2, 2013
Thank you. So many times I have been asked the question "should we be tithing?" I always answer, give what you can realistically give without putting your self/and or family in jeopardy. The reason being, most every one I know is struggling just to pay their rent. The church I attend is constantly bearing down on the congregants to give more and quite frankly it makes me feel uncomfortable. However, I am not going to give over money I need to pay my monthly living expenses and I do not believe God even wants me to do that. I do give generously and consistently out of what I have left after I pay rent, electric, car , decent groceries, etc...Why do Pastors insist on the tenth? I would like to give even more than that but just don't have it and, I do know am not alone. [delete comment]
Also, I can't help but think about 1 Corinthians 8:1-5, "We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints? and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us." Christians first have to whole give themselves to the Lord before any teaching on stewardship and money will yield any result. For more on the Corinthian collect you can see my notes at: http://wp.me/phJ8R-2dp (I don't think that violates the no HTML tags allowed rule.) [delete comment]
I've often said that if you want Christians to give more, you have to give them these three things: 1) A compelling reason to give. When Christians gave in the NT, especially in Acts and the epistles they had a compelling reason to give, helping poorer saints or supporting ministers. Building bigger buildings is not a compelling reason, at least in the long term. 2) People need a way to get their hands dirty. By that I mean folks need to do more than give but become actively involved in their giving. Such as selling lands, or homes, or sacrificing daily food or pleasures in order to give. This kind of giving is transformational, while just opening up one's wallet is not. 3) People need to see results. If we ask people to give for a cause they need to see that their money did indeed work for good. With results folks will continue to give. Without them, they will not. [delete comment]

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