Asked how he led his congregation in financial stewardship, the pastor fidgeted, crossed his arms, closed his eyes, sighed and then confessed: “I’m just not comfortable asking people for money.
No surprise there! More folks are comfortable with polar swimming in the nude than are entirely comfortable asking for money.
But did you notice the error in the pastor’s thinking? It’s a common mistake. To him, leading in financial stewardship equates asking for money. In fact, asking for money is only one aspect of leadership in money, and not even perhaps the most important component. (Although asking is essential. For tips on asking see this previous blog entry.)
The model you can use is Jesus, who talked about money all the time, throughout the Gospels. However, Jesus never asked anyone for money. Not even once. Not for one mite.
Here are other ways to lead financial stewardship without asking for money:
Teach what the Bible says about money. Scripture provides clear guidance about the role of money and wealth in the lives of God’s people. Check out Deuteronomy 8:12-18. Or Malachi 3:8-10. Or John the Baptist’s instructions for how people live into the Reign of God, in Luke 3:10-14.
Teach how to use money. Many folks live paycheck-to-paycheck, dangling on the edge of financial ruin simply because they lack basic knowledge of how to manage money. Dave Ramsey has cornered the market with Financial Peace University, but your congregation might offer workshops led by accountants or smart business leaders.
Talk about how your church uses money. Once they have put their offerings in the plate, many parishioners have absolutely no idea where the money goes. Often the only time they hear about the budget is when it’s in the red. Regular information helps them see their money in action. Celebrate donations to other ministries, or money spent for improvement projects. Share stories of how the money given to church is making a difference in people’s lives. Go beyond the line-item budget and try a narrative budget.
Warn people about money. If the Old Testament beat around the bush, Jesus made it perfectly clear: Money can be corrosive to your soul. If you don’t watch out, wealth will turn you in on yourself and away from God and your neighbor. Check out Matthew 6:24, Mark 10:23-25 orLuke 12:13-21.
Celebrate money. God has blessed North Americans with an abundance of wealth that far exceeds that of most of the world. That’s a story of abundance that we need to hear and celebrate, even as we put it into faith and biblical perspective. We can ask why pockets of poverty exist in our wealthy country, and what are the responsibilities that wealth gives us for our poorer neighbors at home and abroad.
All these teachings – and more — comprise good leadership in financial stewardship. These all form a good foundation for that most difficult of all tasks: Asking people for money!
© Copyright 2019, the Rev. Rob Blezard. All rights reserved.
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