Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Money and Your Spiritual Growth

In the book, Plain Talk about Churches and Money, Loren Mead talks about a “conspiracy of silence” in regards to money. This “conspiracy of silence” is the belief that everyone will be more comfortable in church if money isn’t talked about, especially by the pastor. As long as the silence holds, everyone can continue to imagine that the financial and spiritual health of the church remains strong, and not have to experience any personal discomfort.

Every Christian should understand this vital truth: When the financial part of our lives is SHIELDED from our relationship with Jesus, then our finances will always be a problem in our relationship with God. Read that last sentence again; it’s that important. As long as we imagine that finances and faith don’t mix, then some of God’s people will wrongly believe that their money has nothing to do with their relationship with God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your relationship with money has a direct bearing on your relationship with God.

Some want the “conspiracy of silence” to continue and therefore will get angry if the pastor talks about money. On the contrary, it is FOR THIS VERY REASON that the pastor MUST talk about money and be involved in the stewardship development of Christians within his flock. The pastor needs to shatter the “conspiracy of silence” by talking about money, Biblical stewardship, and generosity. As long as the pastor remains silent about money the conspiracy continues.

How should the pastor talk about money?

1. The pastor should preach on stewardship issues when the Biblical text deals with these issues. Since the Bible and the gospels talk so much about money and possessions, it is inevitable that the text for the Sunday sermon will contain these passages. When this happens, the pastor should preach it and teach it will as much enthusiasm as any other topic.

2. The pastor must be involved as part of the stewardship team. Stewardship ministry is too important to the spiritual lives of members in the congregation for the pastor to not be involved. Because of his Biblical & theological training, as well as his ministry work experience at leading a church, the pastor is in a unique position to keep the stewardship emphasis on tract, understanding that stewardship is mostly about developing generosity within members (rather than being about crunching the numbers to "pay the bills").

3. The pastor should model stewardship and generosity himself. Despite all the taboos, the pastor needs to talk about money, and talk about his own personal financial stewardship. If the pastor tithes, or goes beyond that level, the congregation should know about it.

4. The pastor should know what each person gives. Yes, that’s right. I am aware that this creates a little indigestion for some people. The common complaint is, “If the pastor knows how much people give, then it will influence his ministry to people. He will cater to the big donors and neglect others.” My standard response to that criticism is this: “If you believe your pastor is so easily corrupted that he would cater his pastoral care around the giving levels of people in his congregation, then you have much bigger problem with your pastor than whether or not the he knows this information.”

I wrote on this very topic once. You can read it here.

Because wealth and possessions is such a huge issue in our relationship with Jesus, the pastor has to know what people give. Quite frankly, it is a reflection of their discipleship. How can a pastor develop his flock towards discipleship if he is kept in the dark about how much people give? That’s like a choir director not knowing who can or cannot sing! The pastor needs to have this information just as he has access to other sensitive matters in people lives, and needs to handle it the very same way – confidentially and pastorally.

No comments: