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Giving as a Conversation

John Gilman May 30, 2016

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There is some sort of social stigma that makes people think that talking openly about personal finances is a bit off limits. That stigma drives up arbitrary walls that I’ve found wouldn’t exist otherwise. Somewhere along the way, people were taught that it was awkward to talk about money. But, why? It’s an important part of our lives. We talk about our kids, we talk about our jobs, we talk about our cars, homes, and vacations. We even talk about politics and religion, in certain circles. But, why not money?

The Bible talks about money a lot. With well over 2,000 verses related to the topic, it isn’t shy to bring up the subject.

If managing our money is an important part of our physical – and, as most Christians would argue – spiritual lives, why don’t we talk about it more? To be fair, there has been an increasing willingness to teach and train on the topic in recent years. But still, sometimes it can seem quite a one-way street. Pastors and leaders are thinking, “Let me just say this and move on”. Attendees are thinking, “Okay, let’s get this yearly talk over with”. And visitors are thinking, “Why is it so awkward in here?”.

I’ve found that when people have a relationship with and trust in their friends and leaders, talking about money becomes a welcome relief rather than an awkward encounter.

The truth is, people are concerned about money. They want to know how to manage it, how to be good stewards, and how to honor God with it. But, it’s hard when there is so much silence on the issue.

People need to have a conversation within the church about finances. This conversation can answer questions like: “Should I give exactly 10% or what I’ve purposed in my heart to give?” “Is the Old Testament tithe principle relevant for today?” “Where does the money go, once the church collects it?” “How much have I given already this year? I can’t remember.” “Why do we need so much money for staff and facilities?” or “I had no idea the other church members gave so little, when I was giving so much. Do only a few of us really tithe?”

In a church, people view the issue of giving and finances through a wide variety of lenses. How will you teach and guide them to honor God with their stewardship, if you’re not even having a conversation?

Here are a few things you can do, to get the dialogue going:

  • Teach on giving and financial management. Not just from the stage, but in small groups, too; where you can have a real conversation and share experiences.
  • Offer resources such as Financial Peace University or Crown Financial that provide tools for people to get comprehensive health in their finances, not just to promote giving.
  • Use your church’s financial management software to issue giving reports every quarter so people know where they stand. Take this opportunity to send a personalized letter with budget updates.
  • Designate funds for certain initiatives and talk about the initiatives. Then people can better understand where their money is being appropriated.
  • Show people how supporting a church financially enables the context and community for a myriad of other life transformation opportunities.
  • Send out a survey to hear from your people about where they need help and understanding in their finances. Then offer solutions.
  • Model openness in talking about money, acknowledging it’s a big factor in our daily lives and we should all work together to achieve financial health.

If churches can treat giving and finances more like a conversation to be had, than a budget to meet or an obstacle to overcome, we might just find that people are willing to open their hands, open their mouths, and open their hearts to what God wants to do through the resources He’s given them.

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