One reason this idea exists is because a lot of preaching on giving and finances is rooted in greed and selfishness. And when other pastors see that, they tend to think all preaching on giving is like that. As a result, they shy away from it. These pastors have a genuine desire to reach people; however, they’re afraid they’ll make them feel alienated and uncomfortable.
That is a lie from the Enemy. Why did God create giving in the first place? God wants us to give because it helps drive greed and selfishness out of our lives, and that’s why it’s important for pastors to preach on giving.
Here’s how you can fight the fear of preaching about giving.
1. Preach with Confidence
It’s amazing to me how many pastors confidently preach about marriage, grace and prayer, but they’re not confident when they preach on giving, finances and stewardship. We come to the Bible for guidance in every area of our lives, and as pastors, we should be able to preach from the Bible with confidence in every area. Why then are we scared to preach on finances? Jesus talked about finances. Shouldn’t the truth of the God’s Word guide us in this huge aspect of our lives?
Because I feel so strongly about addressing this issue, I created a six-week series on giving that I preach every two years. During those messages, I make it a point to share personal illustrations about giving. And I don’t just talk about giving money, although that is a big part of it. I also share stories about giving my time and laying down my way for God’s way.
2. Don’t Apologize
A pastor of one of the leading churches in America once asked me for some advice right before he was about to preach a series on giving. I told him, “Don’t be afraid, and don’t apologize. You can’t apologize for preaching on giving and financial stewardship because people need this information.” A year later, he called me and said that in the 20 years since the church had begun, the number-one-selling sermon series at his church was the one he preached on giving. This only exemplifies how hungry people are for solid, biblical teaching on the topic. If people can get free in this area, their lives will be better and churches will grow. Isn’t that a good thing? The message of giving serves a two-fold purpose—it builds the kingdom of God and it builds the people who are citizens of that kingdom.
3. Get It Right in Your Life.
If your finances aren’t in a healthy place—if you don’t live below your means—get some personal financial counseling. You must get that in order first if you’re going to preach and teach it to others. Avoid the temptation to justify living above your means. If you aren’t under the authority of the truth of God’s Word related to giving and stewardship, you won’t have authority to teach about it. Without that submission, you won’t have the authority you need to lead your congregation in it.
It’s a matter of personal integrity and accountability. For me, I truly live below my means, and I give extravagantly. I’m not preaching something I’m not living. So there’s a lot of confidence, motivation and desire in me to preach it because I know firsthand how much it has helped me. I want to see other people helped and set free in this area of their lives.
Preaching vs. Teaching
It’s not enough to just preach on giving; you have to teach people how to do it. This is crucial in creating a culture of giving. I’ve learned most people want to give, but because they’re in bondage, they don’t know how to give.
If you only preach on giving and tithing, you end up with people who know they’re supposed to do it, but they don’t know how. And because they know they’re not doing it, they start feeling guilty about it. While I don’t think any pastor intends to guilt people, if you tell people they’re biblically mandated to do something without telling them how to do it or giving them the tools they need, guilt is a natural result.
People must be equipped to walk out what they’ve been taught in regards to giving. Preaching the “what” and the “why” motivates them and creates a desire—teaching them “how” moves that desire into action.
Part of teaching means initiating, creating and developing programs to help people find freedom from the bonds of guilt, debt and financial disaster. This is why, from the very beginning, we knew we wanted a financial stewardship ministry at Gateway. Today, we offer classes like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and our own Generous Life Journey. We also have biblically-based equipping classes on how to be a responsible financial steward taught by our stewardship ministry. We developed our stewardship ministry not just to teach people but to actually sit with them in a one-on-one setting and equip them to steward their finances. This is foundational, because if you’re in debt and unable to manage your personal finances in a healthy, godly way, then you’ll never be free to be an extravagant giver.
In the end, it’s all about the heart. Creating a culture of giving is about surrounding yourself and creating a leadership team of people who support the vision of your heart. It’s about helping people, freeing them from bondage and releasing them into service for the kingdom of God.