Talking About Money: The 10 Biggest Mistakes Churches Make (and How to Fix Them)
Talking about money can be taboo, right? But churches have to do it! Avoid making these 10 big mistakes in your church when having the money talk.
June 1, 2018
Here's the deal: Talking about money is tough.
Some consider talking about money to be taboo
Some just feel uncomfortable with the topic
Some barely have money to survive on
Some people have so much money but don't want to part with it
Some people are controlled by the pursuit of money
You get the point.
There are a lot of feelings and issues to navigate.
Having the money talk is tough.
Due to all these issues, it's inevitable that you're going to make mistakes when you talk about money. You’re going to fumble your words, say something you regret, or totally forget what you meant to say. You're going to tip-toe around the point, sugar cote it, drill the point home too harshly, or simply not speak with conviction or confidence.
But even though you’re going to stumble along the way, you can plan and prepare to avoid making common mistakes when it comes to talking about money in your church. Being aware of these potential pitfalls will help you to avoid walking into them and falling on your face.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the following common mistakes that people make when talking about money:
Not talking about money
Not using the Bible
Not preaching the gospel
Not sharing stories
Not casting a vision
Not inviting people to give
Not giving your visitors a pass
Not saying “thank you”
Not talking to wealthy members
Not telling your church how they can give
I know it’s not fun to talk about the things we get wrong. But I hope is to shed some light on your path as you talk about money in your church.
#1. Not talking about money
Not talking about money with your church is similar to not warning someone of impending danger.
I understand this topic is uncomfortable for many pastors. But talking about money is essential to equipping the members of your church to live out their faith in Christ.
Besides, God has a lot to say about money in the Bible.
There are more than 2,000 scriptures on tithing in the Bible, money, and possessions in the Old and New Testaments. That’s double the number of references to faith and prayer combined. Wowzers!
God has a good reason why he spends so much time talking about money.
Money will be one of the fiercest idols you face in your relationship with God. In the words of Jesus, “You cannot serve God and money" (Matt. 6:24).
God desires our devotion, and he knows that you and your church will be tempted to devote yourself to money instead. Avoiding this conversation in your church will do a great disservice to your people.
The way money affects the people in your church will vary case-by-case. A wealthy member of your church may sense a level of pride and independence from God because they don’t need anything. A member of your church struggling financially may be tempted to doubt God’s goodness. A middle-class member of your church may be tempted to covet a bigger house, newer car, and more income.
Regardless of the struggles or temptations your congregation faces with money, lead your church to manage their money in such a way that glorifies God, is good for others, and is beneficial for him or herself, which leads me to the next point.
#2. Not using the Bible
No one expects pastors to double as financial advisors.
When it comes to preaching about money in your church, fight the temptation to share general financial advice alone. The members of your church want to know what God says about money, how they should steward their resources, and how God can redeem their financial situation if they’re in trouble.
Be bold when you talk about tithing in the Bible, giving, and generosity. Know that the Lord is at work in the life of your church and that when you share what the Bible has to say about money, you will lead your congregation to experience the grace of God in their life when it comes to their money management.
Now, outside of your pulpit, it’s a good idea to consider providing additional financial coaching through courses like Financial Peace by Ramsey Solutions.
#3. Not preaching the gospel
You cannot build a culture of generosity in your church with tactics and tools alone. In the words of Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, the authors ofContagious Generosity, “Well-executed tactics fail if there is no culture of generosity to support them.”
Leading your church to become generous givers will require more than one sermon about tithing in the Bible or a sermon series based on stewardship in the Bible. Building a generous church culture will revolve around whether or not you regularly preach the gospel.
The gospel is more than a message for non-believers. It’s a message we need to hear regularly. This is one reason why Paul wrote a letter to the churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:1-3).
So, If you want to build a generous church culture, then preach the gospel.
Remind your church that Jesus has given them new life. Regularly let them know that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so that they would be forgiven of their sins, receive his perfect righteousness, and become children of God.
In time, as you preach the gospel and lead people to meet Jesus, you will see your church members respond to his generosity by being generous themselves.
#4. Not sharing stories
God is at work in your church.
He is giving people new life in Christ. He is transforming people into the image of Jesus. He's restoring marriages, changing lives, and building his church.
As a pastor, you have a front row seat in observing God’s work in the life of your church. But most of the members of your church will have no idea how God is at work unless you tell them.
Sharing stories will illustrate God’s tangible work in the lives of people. The stories you share will encourage people to know that they are participating in God’s work by financially supporting the local church.
#5. Not casting a vision
You know what’s not exciting?
Whether you’re taking care of your family’s finances or reconciling your church’s financial statements, taking care of your bills isn’t exhilarating.
Unless you’re casting a vision of the work God has called you and your church to accomplish, your congregation will not sense a calling to participate in the work of the church.
The members of your church will give as the Lord leads them. But, by painting a picture of how God is at work in and through your church, you’ll be able to help your congregation see that their financial sacrifices are supporting God’s work.
So, let me ask you a few questions:
What is God leading you and your church to do in your community?
Has the Lord compelled you to support missionaries around the world?
Have you baptized new people?
Is participation in your community groups increasing?
Have marriages been renewed in your congregation?
Take time to reflect on God’s work in your church, and share these stories with your congregation. Casting a clear vision and showing people how God is at work is one way you can inspire people in your church to give.
#6. Not inviting people to give
Asking for money isn’t easy.
Regardless if you’ve been pastoring for years, you probably feel a tinge of anxiety when it comes to asking people to donate.
But here’s the deal: If you don’t ask people to give, then most people won’t give.
Think about it this way.
Would giving in your church decrease if you never took up an offering? What if you never encouraged people to use your church giving app? Would giving decline?
Yea, some members of your church will donate regardless if you ask them or not. But many of the members of your church may not give for a variety of reasons.
At the end of the day, you have to invite the members of your church to participate in God’s work by financially supporting the work of the Church.
Instead of asking people to give, invite them to respond to the grace of God in their lives and to participate in the work of God in your church.
In the words of the apostle Paul, “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7, NIV).
#7. Not giving your visitors a pass
It’s wonderful when you have new guests visiting your church’s worship service. They’ll have an opportunity to hear the gospel, meet someone new in your church, and possibly get connected.
Every week, make it a habit of acknowledging visitors during your offering time—even if no one new is visiting you that day.
Let visitors know that they’re not obligated to give. Make them feel comfortable to pass the offering plate or keep their phone in their pocket so that they don’t feel guilted into giving.
You may have some visitors give during your offering, and that’s okay. Just let them know that the offering time in your church is a family thing for your church members.
As a church leader, it can be easy to forget about expressing gratitude.
The offering time in your worship service can become a task to accomplish, and remembering to say thanks can slip your mind.
Expressing a lack of appreciation is usually a result of forgetfulness or a broken system. In other words, if you don’t have reminders in place to say “thank you” during your church's offering or an automated system that sends a thank you note when someone gives online.
It’s essential to express thankfulness to the members of your congregation who support your church financially. Regularly expressing gratitude will help you to set a tone of appreciation in your church.
#9. Not talking to wealthy members
This mistake catches people typically off guard. I mean, we’re not supposed to show favoritism to wealthy people, right (James 2:1-13)?
Yes, that is true.
But that’s not the mistake I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about is not speaking into the unique challenges wealthy people face.
You see, it’s difficult “for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24). Whether it’s their status, power, or possessions, a wealthy person may not see their need to place their faith in Jesus Christ.
As for the wealthy members of your congregation, as a pastor, you're charged to challenge them to set their hope on God—not their money or possessions (1 Tim. 6:17).
What is more, you are to encourage the affluent members in your church “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:18-19).
As a pastor or church leader, you may feel intimidated to spend time with the wealthy members of your congregation or want to avoid giving the impression of showing favoritism. But receive your call from the Lord to speak into their life to help them live and love like Jesus.
#10. Not telling your church how they can give
Do you regularly let people know how they can give?
This question may seem obvious. But you’d be surprised by how many churches fail to regularly let people know about the different ways they can give.
When promoting giving in your church, you don’t need to orchestrate a light show or drop balloons from your ceiling. All you need to do is to let your congregation know how they can give.
For example, during your offering, you can quickly let people know they can give with cash or check or use mobile giving or an online giving option.
If your church uses a projection screen, you can easily let people know how to give by including a graphic during your offering. Here’s one example:
Also, review your church’s communications to make sure you’re at least letting people know how to give. You don’t have to include a direct promotion every time. But it’s a good idea to at least add a short blurb about giving in your communications with your church.
How to avoid mistakes when you talk about money in your church
Reading these types of posts can feel like a punch in the gut. In this post, it’s like getting hit 10 times over-and-over again. Not fun!
Have you made a mistake talking about money?
Well, I wouldn’t be surprised. Everyone has (at least the people who are being honest).
In the end, don’t spend too much time navel-gazing. That’s not going to help you to move forward.