Money can be a taboo topic, can’t it? Money has torn families apart. Money has torn businesses apart. Money has torn churches apart. It can be a difficult subject and, because of that, we sometimes avoid it.
But this doesn’t need to be the case!
Given that money is a sensitive subject in churches for any number of reasons—from sin, to past church hurt, or others—we should talk about money strategically.
Here are five intentional ways churches can talk about money that lead to openness and Christlikeness rather than fear and sin:
1. We should talk about money frequently.
One of the most common mistakes church leaders make is avoiding talking about money and generosity until it’s time to initiate a building campaign or another kind of fundraising initiative to support the work of the church. This not only hinders consistent giving, but it can inhibit the trust of people in your church. Learning to manage money with wisdom and in accordance with Christian values are important to life and pursuing Christlikeness. Discussions about how to manage money or cultivate a heart of generosity should not be reserved for when one aspect of the ministry needs a new or expanded space.
Obviously, talking about money too frequently can hurt trust in another way…by making it sound like all your church cares about is money and gathering money from its people—a fear of many Christians that is all too legitimate.
Talking about money is important. Stay consistent with it. Find a healthy rhythm and balance to keep it at the forefront.
2. We should talk about money without shaming people.
Many churches struggle with church members who consume sermons every week and benefit from the ministries of the church without giving of their time or their money to further the work of the church in the community. It is a sad reality, but this is common, and it should be addressed by church leadership. But handling poor giving and stingy hearts by shaming church members who rarely give or don’t give at all is not the way to approach this difficult situation.
Instead, we need to approach how people give with grace and invitation, just like Jesus did. It’s an opportunity to live a life of generosity. This isn’t forced; it’s an invitation to take a step deeper into their walk with Christ.
3. We should talk about money in relation to discipleship.
Sex and money are two of the most common idols that we humans worship instead of our Creator. Part of the reason we are too afraid to talk about money in relation to our faith is because, deep down, we recognize that we hold on to our money a bit too tightly. How we handle our money is a discipleship issue. Mishandling money by being greedy, cheating people out of money we owe them, or other issues like those are spiritual problems, not just ethical or moral problems.
The sooner we start treating our relationship with money as a discipleship issue and not just a “money” issue, the sooner we will start handling our money in a more Christlike, God-glorifying way…and the sooner we’ll be generous with the money we’ve been given.
When church leaders talk about money, it is imperative they lead their people to see their relationship with their money as a matter of spiritual concern. This leads people to understand that money is to be handled with great care because it is so intertwined with their worship.
4. We should talk about money in our children’s and student ministries.
Adults give the most money to the local church, so it is only natural that church conversations about money tend to focus on how adults can be more generous with their money. But because our relationship with our money is a discipleship matter, not just a financial matter, church leaders should be sure that the topic of money makes a regular appearance in children’s and student ministry curricula as well.
Because the church is called to lead children and young adults to have the mind of Christ and pursue godliness in all aspects of life, the church should educate its young people on how to handle money in accordance with their young faith.
Just because young people can’t give very much doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach them the value of generosity!
5. We should talk about money with eternity in mind.
This point has been hinted at in passing throughout this post, but to wrap it up, let’s reiterate: Our relationship with our money is a discipleship matter, which means our relationship with our money is a matter of eternal importance. By God’s grace, those of us who trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ are saved by Him and what He has done for us. But this gracious salvation does not exempt us from opening our hands and giving back to God those dollars which He gave us in the first place.
God sacrificed His Son so that we might know Him and come to salvation, spending eternity with Him in His presence. In return, we can entrust Him with our finances by pursuing the life of generosity He calls us to.
Leaders, let’s be generous. Let’s encourage a culture of generosity in our churches. And let’s not be afraid to talk about money.