How to Talk About Giving So People Won’t Tune You Out

When it comes to finances, most churches are just getting by. A recent study by LifeWay Research found a third of Protestant senior pastors say their church’s giving was under budget in 2015.

LifeWay Research began studying the effects of the economy on churches in 2009, when the country was engulfed in economic woes. In October 2010, most pastors (80 percent) said the economy negatively impacted their church. That number dropped to 64 percent in 2012. In 2015, more than half (51 percent) of Protestant pastors said their church’s offerings were still affected negatively by the economy. Only 13 percent said the offerings were improving.

Many pastors hesitate to discuss money from the pulpit, not wanting to offend seekers or overburden members. The struggling economy and stories of high-profile church leaders’ misappropriation of funds and moral failures have caused some pastors to avoid the money issue. But generous giving is a biblical instruction—and an important conversation to have with members. So here are some tips to help overcome fear and build confidence to start a conversation about giving.

  1. Start small. Church leaders need to be aware they probably exist in a poor money culture for two reasons. First, people may be holding on to the myth that no church can be trusted with money. Second, many pastors have been absent from the conversation so there isn’t a strong history or culture to build on. Ramp up the conversation slowly over time before going big. If you start big, people may question your motives.
  1. Be personal. Share a personal story of how God has been at work in your life teaching you about money. Maybe He met a need unexpectedly, provided beyond your wildest imagination, or has revealed to you how blessed you are. Be personal and practical.
  1. Lead well. You’ll probably need to disciple your staff on what the Bible says about money. If you’ve been silent, it’s likely that few have been growing in that area. Your staff and church leadership look to you to lead the way, so pick up the towel and serve them. You may want to read a book together on giving.
  1. Pray weekly. Pray for the careers, financial provision, and needs of your people during your weekend worship service. I’m confident they are most likely under-discipled in this area. They are chasing the wrong things, worrying about the wrong stuff, and unaware of the powerful ability of God to provide. Churchgoers need a money shepherd and a God who cares about their finances.
  1. Read Scripture. God’s Word is full of His promises to provide for our needs. Each book of the Bible contains tremendous principles to apply. God is never-ending in His promises about our futures. Take the time to lead your people, allowing God to speak to them about one of life’s greatest pressures.
  1. Reveal process. You’re probably going to need to build confidence in the subject. If people assume churches do wrong things with money or are nervous about trusting your church, then help increase their confidence. Share openly about the checks and balances your church has in place. Talk about how wisely you invest money to make a difference. Don’t hide financial facts or important items about your books. Handle God’s money with the highest regard so you are never afraid to have a money conversation.
  1. Deliver a message. Or even better, try an entire message series on money. Here are some topics you may consider addressing:
    1. God is a giver
    2. Money is a blessing
    3. Lies we believe about money
    4. Giving like God is fun (How does it feel to give a gift?)
    5. God’s principles for money
    6. God’s promises for your future
  1. Thank them. Your church is making a difference every week in the lives of kids, youth, and adults. You are changing the face of your community and hearts on the other side of the world. Thank your people for their generous spirit. Show them how their money is making a difference. Celebrate God’s resources going through your church toward the kingdom.

It’s OK to talk about money in church. God created it to bless our lives and bless others through us. He wants our lives to flourish pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Get confident. Redeem the topic. Refresh, renew, and release your people.

> Read more from Todd.

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Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at or 205-223-7803.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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