Why do so many Christians struggle to trust God with their finances?
We trust Him with our lives when we make our daily commute or fly cross-country. We pray for guidance in relationships and jobs. Yet when it comes to the cash in our bank accounts . . . well, we think we know best how to use it.
A Universal Struggle
As a pastor, you expect that new believers will have to work through certain financial issues, such as trusting God with their finances and accepting that security doesn’t come through money. Many come to Christ with mixed-up money priorities. Let’s be honest, before any of us give our lives to Christ, we live (and spend our money) according to our own whims. When we decide to follow Jesus, though, we begin the process of learning to live like—and for—Christ, and that means managing our finances for God. Related: Why Start With Money?
But this isn’t just a baby Christian issue. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of longtime Christians struggle with money—even when they’ve given so many other areas of their lives to Christ! And these are average Christians of all income levels. Most aren’t bankrupt, but they are living paycheck to paycheck. Some may have even limited their giving or stopped showing up for church. They just don’t have the margin anymore and, sadly, often aren’t as spiritually mature as they may seem. It’s a serious issue in American churches because it hinders individuals’ spiritual growth and churches’ ministry.
The Link to Stewardship
At its core, poor money management is a stewardship issue. Psalm 24:1 tells us, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.” God owns everything, including the money He blesses us with, and we just manage it for Him. Embracing this idea of true biblical stewardship naturally leads to good money management. Unfortunately, most Christians haven’t been taught stewardship, so many of them continue to mismanage money.
This is why only about 25% of the families in churches provide 50-80% of the funding, according to State of the Plate, a research study conducted in 2013 on the behavior, motivations and lifestyles of 4,413 Christian tithers. It’s also the reason pastors need to financially disciple their entire church on a regular basis.
Ministry and Resources
So what can you do? Well, you can start with ongoing financial discipleship in the form of a stewardship ministry, which creates an intentional culture of knee-to-knee financial discipleship. A healthy stewardship ministry should include resources for people across a wide range of money issues. That means it’s not limited to crisis situations, and it’s not really about benevolence or fundraising. Think newlyweds, parents sending kids to college and couples planning for retirement, to start.
The members of your congregation also need you, their pastor, to make stewardship a part of your church’s culture. After all, whatever happens at the head of the church will affect the entire body. Stewardship will live or die by the place the senior pastor gives it in the church! So talk about it from the pulpit and weave it into your ministries. Regular exposure to the concept, and modeling it yourself, lead to heart change.
Imagine What Could Be
Malachi 3:10 tells us that God dares us to be generous:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
If Christians understood this and trusted God with their finances, they’d see Him show up in amazing ways! It’s no surprise that tithers are better off financially than non-tithing Christians, according to State of the Plate. While we never want to fall into a “give to get” mentality, few people ever regret tithing once they start.
That’s why financial discipleship is so important for all Christians. A renewed commitment to generous giving could energize your members’ faith and clear the way for greater ministry in your church. Your people could find the margin to engage in worship, serve, give and live like never before. They could grow spiritually, and your church could make a difference for the kingdom like God intended.
Money may be just a small part of a believer’s journey to Christlikeness, but it has the power to change everything!