Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let’s talk about money

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21

There are some who believe that the church should not talk about money. It will scare the “seekers” away. Barna research discovered that only 7% of people who stay away from church do so because they are afraid they will be asked for money.

Jesus didn’t seem to mind losing that 7%. He told the Rich Young Ruler to get rid of it all and did not negotiate when the young man walked away. In fact, Jesus spoke more about money that any other topic. There’s the widow with the mites, render unto Caesar, the parable of the talents, the wages for the vineyard workers, the lilies of the field, and many more.

The issue of money is discussed in the Old Testament and it a repeated theme in Proverbs. If stewardship is such a hot topic in the Bible, how can the church ignore it? How we spend our money is a sure indicator of our personal values. Both generosity and tithing are marks of Christian maturity. Also, financial problems usually are spiritual at their root.

I have noticed that when I teach and preach about tithing, offerings go up. Often it is because new believers hearing this for the first time. Sometimes veteran church attendees need a reminder. I have never had anyone tell me that they were offended by my preaching or teaching tithing.

I have had a few people argue with me against tithing. In each case these were people who would not help support their church. One guy in particular was very stingy in his personal life and made a convenient theological argument for not giving.

I encourage other church leaders to be as bold as Jesus about money. If a few people get offended then they clearly needed to hear that message. Generous givers and those who financially support the church will not leave nor be offended. (Unless, of course, the church is mismanaging finances.)

Beyond tithing churches need to teach about generosity and financial responsibility. Financial disasters lead to divorce and to Christians dropping out of church life. Courses in budgeting, simplicity and saving money are all available from Christian publishers.