How your congregation uses money speaks volumes about their hearts. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This means that the way we use money is a reflection of our priorities, but it will also help direct them.
Many pastors are uncomfortable talking about money in church. But Jesus’ teachings about money make it clear that we cannot neglect its impact on people’s spiritual health. It is not just about cultivating generosity either. We are stewards of God’s resources, and that means we need to use them responsibly.
Here are five tips to help you model financial health as you are pastoring your church.
1. Teach about money regularly.
Money is a notoriously difficult subject to talk about in church, but there are more than 2,000 Bible verses that talk about money. Within that, there are several financial categories with plenty of material for dedicated sermons (or sermon series), including:
Clearly, financial matters play an important role in our spiritual lives. Paul even goes so far as to say that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). If you want a spiritually healthy congregation, do not skirt around financial issues. Your congregation needs to hear what the Bible says about money, and God has called you to teach them what it means.
Speaking openly about money at church can help reduce the pride-driven stigma that keeps us from talking about our finances.
2. Use financial examples in spiritual teaching.
Even when you’re not preaching through a passage that talks about money or planning a sermon series dealing with financial matters, you can still use illustrations involving money to teach other spiritual principles and reinforce healthy financial habits.
When you create illustrations, you probably focus on common experiences that resonate with the greatest number of people. Money plays such a prominent role in our lives (and in Scripture) that there are plenty of important financial experiences that could work into an illustration, such as:
- Buying a house
- Using credit
- Taking out student loans
- Starting a savings account
- Making an investment
As you use more financial illustrations, it will become easier for your church to make the connection between spiritual truth and healthy financial practices.
3. Find opportunities for financial experts to teach.
When it comes to your finances, seeking expertise can be incredibly healthy. Your church probably already has people who work in financial professions, and they may be willing to share that expertise in your Sunday school classes, premarital counseling program, or other trainings where it would be relevant. Your leadership team could also work with these experts to develop a curriculum that covers spiritual and financial health together. Or you could consult them as you create financial illustrations or teach what Scripture says about money.
Even if your congregation does not have any professionals, there may be some in your congregation who have done well with investing or have a history of making wise financial decisions. You could help these people find opportunities to serve as financial mentors in your church. They also might be able to point you to trusted financial professionals who would be willing to lend their expertise and teach a class.
By turning to financial experts, you are modeling that this is what your congregation should do as well.
4. Be vulnerable about your financial mistakes.
Sharing your personal failures is hard. But unless you talk about how poor financial choices have affected your own spiritual life, it can be hard for your congregation to recognize it in their own lives. Making yourself vulnerable creates powerful opportunities for God to speak into the lives of your congregation and makes your message personal.
Church members can often learn as much from your missteps as they do from your victories. Hopefully when you are willing to share your mistakes, they will not have to experience them.
Making yourself vulnerable creates powerful opportunities for God to speak into the lives of your congregation and makes your message personal.
5. Include financial stewardship in discipleship.
The church is in danger of becoming less generous. Of all the generations alive today, Baby Boomers account for the highest percentage of charitable giving (43 percent), despite only making up 23.6 percent of the total population. Generosity is falling out of practice.
The Bible has enough to say about the importance of generosity and its impact on our spiritual health that financial matters deserve a role in your discipleship strategy. As believers grow in spiritual wisdom, their understanding of God’s expectations for our finances should too.
Want help making generous disciples? Start by understanding the unique giving habits of every generation. Click below to read our full study.