Preaching Articles

Church leaders can find it difficult to talk about money. Pastors list many reasons why: they don’t want to offend people by talking about it too much; they are reluctant or uncomfortable because giving pays their salary; they know that people are struggling in recessionary times. But leadership is essential to fund the ministry of the church (not simply our salaries). We have a pastoral responsibility to address an issue which touches people’s lives every single day; helping people grow in generosity is critical to their spiritual development.

If you struggle with preaching, teaching, and talking about money at church, here are some reminders to ease the way:

1.  Remember to lighten up.

Money, like all anxious topics, causes people to get serious. If you can cultivate your sense of humor about it, you’ll find it easier. When I was a pastor, I started making a file of money humor and cartoons. I took a look at it before money-related meetings. (My favorite was the cartoon about the church treasurer running off to Las Vegas with the endowment.) Sometimes I shared one of the cartoons, sometimes I didn’t. Either way, it helped me lower my anxiety (and made the meeting more fun for me and others). 

2.  Remember it’s not about money, it’s about leadership.

To live out God’s purpose as a church requires resources. To become reality, a vision needs not only energy and creativity, but also money. Remember why you are challenging people to grow in financial stewardship. In your own thinking and speaking about giving, keep the vision in the forefront. (It doesn’t have to be a big vision to start—if you’re stuck, keep it small.)

3.  Remember it’s not just about money, it’s about ministry.

People need a spiritual context for their financial lives. If you talk about money more often, you can help them develop a way to think about their resources, apart from funding the church budget. In today’s money-minded world, this is an essential part of our pastoral ministry.

4.  Remember it is about you.

It’s not about your salary or your personality, but your own presence in the congregation, courageously addressing these difficult questions about money. Take the time to figure out what you think about money, and little by little, tell your people what that is. You are not responsible for what everyone else thinks or does—but you are responsible for yourself. Learn more about your family story regarding money, and little by little, share that with people—and give them the opportunity to tell their stories in return.

5.  Remember it takes time.

Increasing your comfort level with these conversations won’t happen overnight. Seeing a shift in your congregation’s relationship to money won’t happen in a week, or even a year. But, over time, you can look back and say, "See how far I’ve come—see how far we’ve come. We handle money better. We give more. We are more faithful in our lives and our ministry together." That’s a reason to celebrate.

6.  Do it more often.

If all our financial teaching takes place during three weeks of the year, it's not enough for people who deal with money every day. If you preach and teach about faith and financial life at a time when you are not asking people to give, people won't say, "They are always asking for money." At the same time, you can talk about financial stewardship at points throughout the year. When I was a pastor, I found when we implemented a year-round stewardship program, doing something related to stewardship every month of the year, it was much easier to launch the fall campaign, and we had better results.

7.  Tell your own story.

Rather than trying to get people to give more, tell them why and how much you give. You can share your own challenges in making these decisions. Joe Clifford, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, spoke in a stewardship sermon about his journey toward giving: "I talked about a time in my life when I was giving $500 to the church. I felt like I was doing pretty well, I'd never given $500 a year to anything in my life. But I realized I was giving basically 1% of what I was earning, and that really wasn't a big deal. We got on the journey toward tithing. We couldn't start at 10% but we started at 2% and we worked our way up and over time we got to 10%.  I was very honest about the fact that we set a personal goal to be at a tithe, but there are years we make it and years we don't.  I spoke very openly about it, and I had so many people who came to me and said, 'Thank you so much for being that honest.'" Telling your story helps you stand alongside your people as they make these decisions for themselves.

8.  Enlist others.

Recruit leaders who are generous financially and otherwise, and who are a calm presence in the congregation and on the board. A treasurer with a sense of humor is a gift from God!

9.  Limit media exposure.

The more anxious you are, the harder it will be to have conversations about money. The media intentionally tries to raise anxiety to get attention—about everything, and these last few years especially about money. You might want to know in general what's going on in the world at large and to have a sense of what your people are taking in. But consider whether it's necessary to spend hours watching CNN or reading news online.

10.  Read the gospels.

Jesus' words about money again and again challenge me to grow and help me manage my anxiety. In Matthew 6, Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and wealth" and "Seek first the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Rev. Margaret Marcuson works with churches that want to create a ministry that lasts and clergy who want more impact on the people they serve best. Get the free mini-course, "Five Ways to Avoid Burnout in Ministry" at

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Dennis Cocks

commented on Feb 6, 2012

My comments, I'll let the Bible speak for itself. 1 Timothy 2:11-3:7. Ephesians 5:23-24; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

Dean Johnson

commented on Feb 6, 2012

Thanks Margaret--some helpful ideas.

Stephen Gaines

commented on Feb 6, 2012

Speaking the truth in love Dennis - you need to expand your reading and understanding...I'll let the Scripture speak for itself as well. Joel 2: 28-29, Galatians 3: 28. With special attention to Ephesians 4: 29.

John E Miller

commented on Feb 6, 2012

Stephen Gaines, scripture never contradicts itself. If you understood that you would not have quoted the scriptures you have, for they do not negate the scriptures quoted by Dennis Cocks. The scriptures that he quoted refer directly to church order and are most apposite. Your attempt to dismiss the authority of the Apostle Paul who penned these words by the power and unction of the Holy Spirit of God shows a disregard for the word of God.

Robert Sickler

commented on Feb 6, 2012

You make some good points but they almost have a secular ring to them. They would work for a club or a society trying to drum up funds. Again, good points but they would be so much more powerful if they were written from a scriptural perspective. I believe we need to let the Holy Spirit and the Word of God guide our sermons more than we use our limited mental capabilities.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Feb 6, 2012

Stephan Gains, if "neither male nor female" means that Christianity recognizes no differences in nature between men and women, then their roles are totally interchangeable in marriage (what could be wrong with a loving homosexual relationship?) If this verse is taken out of its INHERITANCE context and taken to abolish all sexual differences (i,e. in Christ we are virtually neutered) as well as social and racial distinctions, it would contradict Paul's teaching on homosexual relations (Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9) on duties of husbands and wives (Eph. 5:22-23; Col. 3:18-19) on slaves' attitude to their masters (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 4:1) on God's future plans for the Jewish people (Rom. 11) and in particular, on his qualifications on women's ministry in the church, which I already quoted. To accuse Paul of such inconsistency is a serious charge, with implications for the inspiration of Scripture. To enlarge one verse of Scripture (Gal. 3:28) into a scocial or an ecclesiastical manifest is unwarranted and misleading, particularly in view of Paul's other specific teaching on the subject. In regard to Eph. 4:29 all I can say is, "Wow!" Am I to take this that quoting Scripture isn't edifying? Or that Scripture is corrupt? Or that it doesn't minister grace unto the hearers?

Stephen Gaines

commented on Feb 7, 2012

Mr. Cocks and Mr. Miller my previous posting had nothing to do with Spriptural contraditions (I too believe that Scripture does not contradict itself), or "spiritual neutering"...My references were directed at Mr. Cocks inference in his original posting that women should not speak on spiritual matters....God can and does speak through a variety of individuals (male and female)...if I misunderstand your inferences then I apologize...if not, I will continue, with a gracious heart, continue to allow God to speak through whom He like regardless of Church order...So if I'm correct in my interpretation then Ephesians 4: 29 speak to Mr. Cocks motives in his comments and nothing else.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Feb 7, 2012

Stephan, My problem with the article is that she claims to have been a pastor. "We have a pastoral responsibility to address an issue which touches people?s lives every single day; " and "When I was a pastor," 1 Tim. 2:12-13 "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve." Paul was speaking in the context of teaching in the local church. He did not prohibt women from teaching other women (Titus 2:3-4) or from teaching children (1 Tim. 2:15, 5:10) Neither is rebuke directed at Priscilla who, along with her husband, privately taught Apollos "The way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:24-28). But Paul ABSOLUTELY reserved the teaching role in the church for men. Why? Verse 13 "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." The word "formed" means "to form or mold something as from clay or wax." It is used in Rom. 9:20 where Paul asks, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, 'Why hast thou made me thus?'" The emphasis is on the unquestionable right of God to order things as He sees fit. God created Adam first, then Eve. Adam was a direct creation from God: Eve was formed from that which was taken from Adam. In doing so God established an order, a primacy, a headship in human afairs. The problem I have is that Sermon Central compromised God's Word by posting an article by a woman who claimes to be a pastor. Are we to be true to the Word of God or not? It is in perfect harmony with the Scriptures for women to instruct in the privacy of their home, or in a Sunday school class. The believing woman has a perfect right to win souls, to teach anywhere she doesn't usurp authority over the man. When it comes to matters of buisness in the church, God appointed men to take care of the affairs of the church, to PASTOR, to serve as deacons, as stewards of the church, as elders, and teachers insofar as men are concerned. This doesn't make women second class citizens. It doesn't mean we are better or smarter for that matter. It is simply the way God ordered things. And again Sermon Central compromised the CLEAR teaching of God's Word by posting this article. And by me pointing that out with my first post by giving Scripture references is in no way rude or out of line.

Stephen Gaines

commented on Feb 8, 2012

Dennis I do not want to argue with you and I am not. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and certainly your thoughts on these texts, within their historic context were valid, but Paul was clearly speaking to a specific set of issues in his day. You cannot really question how God has used women in big ways and little ways to advance His Kingdom. I bellieve that God speaks through men and women - His gifts are imparted to men and women, young and old. I for one will continue to keep an open mind on the role of women in the church. Your intent may have been to "edify" but it came off differently - that's my opinion. We can look back through history and see how those same texts, and others like them have been used to subjugate human beings for centuries. I just don't believe that is what God intended.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Feb 8, 2012

"You are certainly entitled to your opinion and certainly your thoughts on these texts, within their historic context were valid, but Paul was clearly speaking to a specific set of issues in his day." Really Stephen? You mean to say that the Bible is out of date? That things taught some 2000 years ago are no longer in effect today? I do not see anywhere in Scripture where Paul was "CLEARLY" speaking to a specific set of issues in his day. I do not read where Paul said, "Only for right now women are not to teach men or usurp authority over men. But the day will come when this is no longer in effect. When that is you will have to figure out since I'm not giving a time period when this will no longer be in effect. " I want to be careful not to put words in your mouth, but it certainly seems like you believe the Bible is dated. God is very clear that we are no longer under the Law, we are not under the sabbath, dietary laws, sacrifical laws (Col. 2:16) but I see no where in Scripture where he changed His mind on the authority He gave to men. If Jesus really wanted to establish that women had the same authority as men, then why didn't He choose 6 men and 6 women to be His disciples? If He did that then we would not be having this discussion. But He didn't. And don't use the argument I have heard some try to use that Jesus wouldn't do that because it would not have been right for men and women to travel together. Luke 8:1-3 says women did travel with the disciples, even married women. The principle of men as the leaders over women is found throughout all of the Bible. Paul was is no way speaking to a set of issues in his day, he was speaking the Word of God for all time. And BTW, this is not my "opinion" it is the clear teaching of the Word of God. When I make an argument, I use Scripture to back up what I say, I don't see you doing that. All I see is your opinion. Why don't you use Scripture to back up what you say? You tried to use Gal. 3:28 but that in no way speaks to this issue we are discussing as I pointed out. You say you do not believe the Bible contradicts itself them you turn around and say it does. Because God doesn't contradict Himself women are not to be in authority over men period, not only in Paul's day or He would have said so.

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