Every year as a pastor I’ve taught a 3-5 week series on giving and generosity. One year we titled our series The Treasure Principle, based on Randy Alcorn’s book by the same name. We also sent a copy of the book to every giver on record and encouraged the church to read a chapter each week that matched the upcoming sermon theme. I highly recommend it. If you’re a pastor, you’ve probably felt the same angst I’ve felt when I’ve taught on giving. Even though I believe my heart has been in the right place, I can’t help but think some people felt I was being self-serving as I taught. Here’s what I now do to help mitigate those thoughts in people’s minds.
How pastors should prepare before teaching about money
First, make sure your heart is right by asking yourself these questions.
- Do I faithfully give?
- Do I tithe and give beyond a tithe?
- Do I teach from a desire that others will experience the joy of generosity or because my church is not making the church budget?
Second, at the beginning of each message, acknowledge what some people feel. I actually say something like this. “I recognize that when a pastor talks on money it can appear self serving. I know that some of you may be thinking, I really don’t want to hear some preacher talk about it. I would simply ask that you lower your guard a bit, listen to what I have to say, and then decide how you want to respond. It’s between you and God.”
Third, share your giving story. In one message I explaineded that my wife and I had faithfully tithed and beyond since we were married. I also shared that my parents taught me to give at an early age and that a comment from my 5th grade Sunday School teacher left an indelible imprint in my life that put me on the path to generosity. When people hear our honest stories, it can help lower their guard and resistance to the message.
When I began serving in ministry 35 years ago, I’d often shy away from the money subject. However, I now realize that giving is as much a part of discipleship as is Bible reading and prayer. I can’t shy away from it, but must approach the subject with tact and grace.
What has helped you get the generosity message across?
If you are not a pastor, what advice would you give to us about how to effectively encourage people to give?