Summary: Why is it so hard for pastors to preach about giving? Why is it so hard for church members to hear about giving? Here are 3 reasons why preachers should NOT apologize for a sermon on giving - from a layperson!
What is On Your Mind?
One of the most intriguing challenges for anyone who steps behind one of these (pulpits) is trying to figure out what¡¦s going on in your minds. What are you thinking as we speak? It¡¦s not always easy to read. But there is one time where it¡¦s really not all that hard to figure out. You know when that is ¡V whenever the talk comes around to giving ¡V what Jesus (Luke 12:42) calls being a ¡§faithful and wise steward (manager).¡¨ I think I can pretty accurately guess what a lot of you are thinking then.
When a handful of believers started WCCC ¡V now one of the largest congregations in the U.S. ¡V they went around to every home in their neighborhood, asking a few simple questions:
o Do you attend a church?
o If so, why? What keeps you there?
o If not, why not? What keeps you away?
I¡¦ll bet you can guess the #1 reason why people stayed away from church? ¡§It seems they¡¦re always asking for money!¡¨
Now, you can imagine this kind of complaint makes it just about as uncomfortable for me to be up here preaching a sermon about giving as it is for you to listen to it. (In fact, it¡¦s perhaps more uncomfortable for me since I can¡¦t go home and complain to my wife about my own sermon). And yet here I am, about to preach a message on how we can be faithful stewards/managers of the financial resources our Lord blesses us with.
It¡¦s almost enough to make me want to start out with an apology. But something I read a while back showed me how wrong that would be. A number of years ago I ran across a positive article on giving ¡V not by a pastor, mind you (you¡¦d expect that), but by a church member! ¡§What¡¦s this,¡¨ I thought, ¡§she¡¦s demanding her pastor to tell her church more about giving!¡¨ Hmmm!
I want to share with you today the 3 reasons why she wrote such an article, such a plea. All are deeply anchored in our Christian handbook ¡V God¡¦s Word.
For some of you this will be affirming ¡V you have been faithfully giving ¡V think of this as a reminder of why.
For others this will be challenging ¡V why it¡¦s time to begin taking this part of following Christ seriously.
1. Giving Means Taking Part in the Greatest Cause in the World
That¡¦s the first truth we need to cling to when we¡¦re challenged to go beyond our comfort zones. It¡¦s the first of three reasons why preachers throughout the world can stand up here without apology. Because giving to God¡¦s work means taking part in the greatest cause in the world! Something bigger and more exciting than anything we¡¦ve ever known.
Ten years ago I was offered the opportunity to fly out to Atlanta to perform a wedding. It was only a week before the Olympics were to begin. In fact, I visited Centennial Park and stood just a few yards from where the bomb went off two weeks later. What a mess that city was! Construction, detours, traffic jams seemingly everywhere! It was already flooded with people ¡V visiting the sites, buying the overpriced souvenirs, desperately trying to get tickets to the Opening Ceremonies which just couldn¡¦t be had. They¡¦d sold out months ago for an average price of (get this) $632!!!
Why would people pay such an outrageous amount for a few hours of entertainment? Why fight all the crowds and traffic? Why endure the stifling heat and humidity? Because, even with all of the headaches and hassles, there was a sense that this was something special, something memorable, something big ¡V something bigger than perhaps anything they¡¦d been involved in before. And they were willing to let go of their hard-earned money to be a part of it.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I¡¦ve got news for you. What those people experienced during those special two weeks in Atlanta can¡¦t even hold a candle (or, should I say, a torch) to what we¡¦ve got going on here in Christ¡¦s church! Christians are a part of something which is bigger, greater and more lasting than the Olympics or anything else on the face of this earth! It¡¦s the greatest cause of all! It¡¦s called the gospel, the Good News of salvation and freedom and acceptance and forgiveness and love through Jesus Christ! And giving to that cause ¡V whether it¡¦s time or energy or money ¡V makes an eternal difference!
There was a group of Christians in Greece 2,000 years ago who caught this. The great apostle Paul even brags on these believers to another of his churches.
"For your giving does not end in meeting the needs of your fellow Christians. It also results in an overflowing tide of thanksgiving to God. Moreover, your very giving proves the reality of your faith, and that means that people thank God that you practice the gospel of Christ that you profess to believe in..."