We all know pastors are gripped with an extreme fear when it comes to preaching sermons about money. They’re not afraid because they are talking about money; they’re afraid because church members usually highly dislike sermons where they feel like the pastor is trying to get them to give more, or even greater, give at all. It’s a negative perception church members have, when in fact, the topic should be welcomed because giving is a Biblical foundation first introduced in the Old Testament.
10% has been the “standard” of what to give in terms of percentage of your income. So should pastors be asking for more? Or should pastors be driving home the concept of Biblical stewardship and how that translates into giving, not only of financial resources, but time, energy, talents and more?
There is no doubt that pastors have an enormous role in cultivating a culture of generosity in their church. Part of generosity means tithes and offerings, and it’s important that pastors make sure that they are communicating generosity to their members the right way. It’s also vital that pastors make sure that money goes where it’s intended.
How many finance and accounting classes did you take in seminary? Didn’t take long for you to answer that question, huh? I thought it was zero too. Hopefully you took at least one basic accounting class or finance class in undergrad, because you need a basic understanding of general finances. I’m not advocating for the pastor to be the one handling any of the money. Far from it. But there does need to be a system in place that ensures checks and balances on all levels.
If you don’t already, make sure you have a finance committee in place. Most churches have this taken care of. Ensure there are a few members in the church who are leaders you can trust. Bankers, people in financial positions and accounting teachers are a good place to start. Meet quarterly, at least, to discuss where the money is coming from and where it’s going.
Transparency and consistency with your congregation will go a long way towards building and keeping the trust of your church members. If members don’t have any clue as to where their tithes and offerings are being made effective, they will probably stop giving and even find another church. Also, consider sending out annual budgets at the beginning of the church fiscal year. At the end of the year, send out a yearly report showing where all of the money went, to which ministries, with any variances.
Stewardship starts with the pastor. It is your role to cultivate a culture of Biblical stewardship. It’s also your role to keep the members of your church informed and updated as to how their tithes and offerings are impacting Jesus’ call of disciple-making in your church, your community and across the world.