Health and Growth

Interview with Paul Tripp: Why Budgets Are Insufficient to Resolve Our Money Problems

Dr. Paul Tripp fields a few qustions about "Redeeming Money" from Dean Sweetman, the CEO of

Interview with Paul Tripp: Why Budgets Are Insufficient to Resolve Our Money Problems

All of us struggle with money in some shape, way, fashion, or form.

But the problems you'll have with money are not actually with money. The conflict you’ll face with money is within you.

God knows this about all of us, which is why he talks about money and stewardship in the Bible more than anything else. He wants to crush any sinful desire we have for money so that we’ll be wholly devoted to him.

This struggle within is the driving force behind Dr. Paul Tripp’s latest book, Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts.

Like a skillful surgeon, Dr. Tripp uses the scalpel of the gospel to cut open our hearts, untangle the grip of sin, and lead us to experience grace, redemption, and renewal in Christ.

I had the opportunity to send Dr. Tripp some questions about his new book, and I know you’ll hear an encouraging word from the LORD through him.

1. In Redeeming Money, you actually don’t start talking about money in the beginning. Instead, you talk about the way we view the world. Why did you decide to begin your book this way?

I have written about this before and will probably write about it again: no one is neutral in the way he or she thinks about life. No one is truly open-minded. Everyone carries with them a worldview that shapes their understanding of everything. Everyone is a philosopher; everyone is a theologian. All are meaning makers.

We never leave our lives alone. You just can’t understand anything in isolation. Everything in our lives is connected to everything else, and everything is shaped by what we understand to be true. Handling money right—being in control of it, not being controlled by it, and not asking it to do for you what it was never intended to do—requires examining the worldview that should shape how we think about money and everything else in our lives.

See why thousands of churches trust with their online giving and mobile giving solutions.

I want to help you look at money and money problems through the lens of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am deeply persuaded that we will never make proper sense of the world of money, which influences us, perhaps more deeply than we realize, unless we first put on our gospel glasses. If you and I don’t let the gospel of Jesus Christ correct our assumptions about life, we won’t be able to evaluate and gain ground in the way we understand and relate to money and make practical money decisions.

2. You wrote, “There is no better indicator of the identity you have assigned to yourself than the way you use money.” How do our money habits reveal what we believe about God and ourselves?

The answer is in the idea of identity. Why does one person proudly throw money around? Why does another person use her money to buy all the cultural markers of success? Why is that neighbor of yours so proudly vocal about his charity? Why has yet another person never been able to stay out of debt? Why does that couple quietly give away such a big portion of their income? Why is your friend so gripped with money fears? Why did Jesus talk about this topic more than any other? Why is money such a big deal?

Related: 106 Scriptures About Tithing in the Bible, Giving, and Generosity

In a fundamental way, the drama of identity often plays out in the arena of money. You and I again and again make clear who we think we are by the way we use our money. We have to think biblically about identity to be able to live rightly when it comes to money.

3. Many financial advisors insist on creating a budget to get out of debt, but you believe budgets are insufficient to resolve our debt problem. What led you to this conclusion?  

There are many important things to understand about money, and a personal budget can be practically helpful, but it cannot be our starting point. That would be like teaching a little boy to throw a football but not helping him to understand the basic purpose, rules, and fundamentals of the game. You could have all kinds of money information and still be tragically mastered by it. You could have a clear sense of how to budget your funds and still not be thinking about and using money in the way God intended.

4. Money is arguably the leading cause of stress and anxiety in the United States. How does knowing we are a child of God through faith in Christ address our financial anxieties?

In Matthew 6:31–32 Jesus argues that because we are now the children of God, we don’t have to give way to the normal anxiety that most people feel over the question of whether their needs will be met. Because we now have a wise and loving heavenly Father, who owns everything and is in control of everything, we can rest assured that all of our needs will be met. This means we have been freed from the fear of want that causes us to focus all of our time, energy, and money on making sure all our needs are met.

5. Often, when we’re in a mess financially, we feel alone, defeated, and try to hide our situation from others and ourselves. What hope does the gospel provide someone in this situation?

It is not what you have done or are doing, but what God has done and is doing for you. Being a saint means you never carry your money burdens alone. It means that God is with you in every money struggle. Being a saint means you don’t have to deny responsibility, shift the blame, run and hide, or be paralyzed with guilt when you’ve made a money mess.

In your darkest moment of money foolishness, you can run into God’s presence assured of his forgiveness and help. Being a saint means God has opened your heart to his existence and your mind to his wisdom. You are now blessed with knowing that, at its very core, your life isn’t about your comfort, pleasure, and satisfaction, but about his glory.

Editor’s Note: Content adapted from Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts by Paul David Tripp, ©2018. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.


Interview with Paul Tripp: Why Budgets Are Insufficient to Resolve Our Money Problems