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5 MINISTERIAL MYTHS ABOUT MONEY AND MINISTRY


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I'll never forget his response.

We were in the locker room of a racquet club getting dressed after playing several games of three-way racquetball (which I lost badly).

One of the players was Bob, a church consultant friend of mine. The other was a pastor whom I'll call Mike.


Within Pastor Mike's hearing, Bob said to me, "Why don't you tell Mike about how you've been able to increase your church's giving?"


So, while Mike combed his hair, I gave him a quick summary of how I had developed a stewardship system that had increased our church's giving by 32 percent the first year, 23 percent the next, and 27 percent the following year—a 105 percent increase in just three years.


I waited expectantly for Mike's response.


While I watched, he finished brushing his thick, wet hair back over his head, put the brush in his gym bag, zipped it up, and, without a word or a backward glance, walked out of the room.


Since his hearing was fine, and since his church’s giving was in trouble (by his own admission), I could only conclude that Mike had been victimized by one or all of the common ministerial myths about money and ministry.


Like a computer virus, these insidious myths—spread from seminary professor to future pastor, and from pastor to pastor—had wormed their way into his brain and paralyzed the parts that think about church stewardship.


Let’s run a virus scan on your thoughts to identify and destroy any of these myths that may have attached themselves to your brain.


These five ministerial myths about money and ministry keep pastors and churches from reaching their giving potential:


Myth # 1: A Truly Godly Pastor Will Never Talk about Money.


Many pastors and church members think it is a sign of great spirituality never to preach or talk about money in the church.


In his two-volume biography of the great Welsh Bible expositor and pastor Doctor Martin Lloyd‑Jones, Iain H. Murray mentioned with apparent approval that Dr. Lloyd-Jones had never preached on money or giving.


His implication was that a person of integrity is above handling such a profane subject.


There is no question that Martin Lloyd-Jones had great integrity.


But he (and many other great preachers) did not set a godly pastoral example in this area.


The Truth: A Faithful Pastor Will Regularly Talk about Money.


We know it isn't ungodly to teach about money because the Bible is full of instructions on the subject. You’ve read the statistics:


☑️ The Bible has five hundred verses on prayer, fewer than five hundred verses on faith, but over two thousand verses dealing with money and possessions.

☑️ The book of Proverbs alone is filled with instructions about money.

☑️ It has been said that Jesus talked more about money than about any other subject. Of Jesus’s thirty-eight parables, sixteen deal with money management.

☑️ One out of every ten verses in the gospels has to do with money or possessions—a total of 288 verses.

☑️ There is more said in the New Testament about money than about heaven and hell combined.


If God thought it was important to talk to His people about money management and giving, you and I have no right to neglect these parts of His word.


Based on the apostle Paul’s example, God has not given us preachers the option of shrinking from teaching what His word says about giving.


Twice in one speech, Paul made the following claims:


  • I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable (Acts 20:20).

  • For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God (Acts 20:27).


If we fail to teach biblical principles of giving, we rob our people of the profit they could receive from knowing and practicing the truth.


Let's not shirk our responsibility to declare the whole purpose of God.


Myth # 2: I Can Build a Great Ministry without Raising Money.


When the average pastor dreams of building a great ministry for God’s glory, he never thinks about the necessity of raising money to make it happen.


Bible college and seminary professors don’t talk about it, so we think that all we need is knowledge of theology and the ability to preach.


The Truth: God Has Inextricably Linked Ministry to Money.


When I was called to minister in Portugal as a missionary and, later, as my wife and I set out in 1987 to plant a church, I quickly realized that if you can't raise money, you can't build your ministry.


Most of us don’t like it, but this is a fact of life.


As Margaret Thatcher said, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well.”


It costs money to:


☑️ Support missionaries.

☑️ Pay utility bills.

☑️ Buy land and build church facilities.

☑️ Hire staff.

☑️ Pay the pastor’s salary.

☑️ Extend the gospel to your community.

☑️ Buy Sunday school curriculum for children’s ministries.


We could spread the gospel to everyone on planet Earth within a few short years if we just had the money required to send the needed missionaries!


There are many examples in the Bible that confirm the truth that God has linked money to ministry advancement.


Here are just a few:


☑️ Moses had to raise money to build the Tabernacle (Exod. 35:4–9, 20–20; 36:1–7).

☑️ David and Solomon had to raise money to build the temple (1 Chron. 28–29).

☑️ Even Jesus had to be financially supported by contributions from his female followers (Luke 8:1–3).


What next step would you take in your ministry if you had the money?


Myth # 3: It Is Not My Responsibility to Raise the Money for My Church.


Many pastors (and their governing boards) believe that the pastor should only deal with "spiritual matters" and leave money matters to others such as the lay leaders or businessmen in the church.


After all, on his salary, what could their pastor really know about money?


The Truth: It Is the Senior Pastor's Responsibility to Raise the Money for His Church.


Again, the vast majority of pastoral training institutions fail to teach this, but it is true.


As the senior or solo pastor, you have the primary responsibility, and the greatest ability, to raise the money for your church.


You have the primary responsibility to raise the money for your church because you are the leader.


People look to the senior pastor for direction.


In the matter of teaching on money management and giving, as in every other area of church leadership, the sign, “The buck stops here,” belongs on the pastor’s desk.


As the pastor, you have the primary ability to raise the money for your church because you have the power of the pulpit.


No board member or key deacon has this kind of influence for good.

If you don't use the power of your pulpit to teach your people to give, no one else in your church can.


Myth # 4: If I Just Pray and Preach on Giving, People Will Give as They Should.


I believed this the first few years of my pastorate. 


However, I soon discovered that, even when I preached bold biblical messages on giving, without giving a challenge for a specific giving commitment, the results were poor.


The Truth: To Get People to Give as They Should You Must Also Ask For a Specific Commitment.


In order to get your people to give as they should, you also need to exercise leadership by asking your church family to make specific giving commitments.


 We follow the “asking principle” in almost every area of church life except giving.


☑️ We ask members to commit to teaching a boy’s fourth-grade Sunday school class for six months.

☑️ We ask people to commit to serving on the music committee for one year.

☑️ We ask unbelievers to trust Christ as Savior and to let us know of that faith decision.

☑️ We ask married members to sign up to attend a weekend couples’ retreat.


And yet we are afraid to ask people to make a specific commitment to give financially.


I was nervous the first time I asked our people to fill out a card with a definite giving commitment.


But the first year I preached a series on biblical financial stewardship and asked for a concrete giving commitment, our giving increased 32 percent.


In our Abundant Giving Church Capital Campaigns, we ask members to sign a commitment card with the amount they plan to give over and above their regular offerings in a three-year period.


As a result, our campaigns bring in an average of two times annual giving in three years.


At the same time, general fund offerings increase by 10 to 15 percent.


All because we asked for a specific, concrete giving commitment!


As in prayer, so in stewardship development—

  • “You do not have because you do not ask” (Jas. 4:2).



Myth # 5: If I Ask For a Giving Commitment, It Will Hurt the Church Because Many People Will Be Offended and Will Leave.


Probably the main reason pastors fail to teach their people about giving is that they are afraid of offending and losing people.


“Fear of man” is alive and well in the hearts of many of us.


The Truth: Only Non-Givers May Be Offended and Their Departure Won't Hurt Your Church.


If you ask people for a giving commitment, here's what will happen:


☑️ Your faithful givers will rejoice.


These rare church members (the 2–23 percent of your congregation who tithe) will be thrilled that you are preaching on an important value of theirs.


They will rejoice that you are challenging the rest of the congregation to help them share the financial responsibilities of the church.


A godly church elder once said to me, “I’m 74 years old and I’ve been in church all my life, but I have heard very few sermons on stewardship.”


He would be thrilled to hear his pastor preach on giving.


☑️ Many non-givers will repent and become givers. 


God will use the power of your bold leadership and His word to bring many to obedience in the area of giving.


As a result:

  • Your newly generous people will benefit spiritually, emotionally, financially, and eternally.



  • And your weekly giving will jump dramatically by at least 10 to 15 percent.


☑️ A few non-givers will resent it and leave.


In the eight years that I asked our people to make specific giving commitments, I’m not aware of losing even three families because of it.


That was far fewer than I expected.


But of course, it does happen.


However, as we think about losing people, it is important to ask this question, “If you lose a non-giver, what have you really lost?”


Answer: You have lost a rebellious Christian who was not contributing to the financial needs of your church.


Leadership expert and former pastor, Dr. John Maxwell, tells pastors, “If you teach on giving, you get to choose who you lose. You lose your whiners and keep your winners.”

He’s right.


No one who gives faithfully is offended by a balanced presentation on financial stewardship by a loving pastor.


Since faithful givers will not be lost, choosing to ask people to give is simply choosing to possibly lose a few people who are unwilling to obey God’s word.


That's sad--but out of our control.


  • However, even knowing we might lose a few members should not keep us from asking people to give.


It would be a tragedy to allow a few disobedient church members to control what we preach and how we lead God’s people.


Cowardice and Courage


It is important to remember that you will always offend and lose people, whether or not you ask people to give.


The question should not be, "Will someone be offended and leave?”


The question must be, "What is the right thing to do as a spiritual leader?”


I constantly had to remind my staff and lay leaders that the primary purpose of our church was not to keep people from leaving it!


The real problem is that most pastors (and their governing boards) live in fear of personal rejection.


I know.


I struggled with it constantly myself.


But in order to be great spiritual leaders, we cannot operate out of fear.


Our primary motive must not be to avoid criticism and conflict.


Our primary motive must be to obey God’s word and love God’s people.


Don't ask, "Will I be criticized?" Instead ask, "What is the right thing to do in this situation?”


Every pastor needs to memorize and internalize 2 Timothy 1:7:


  • For God has not given us a spirit of timidity [the Greek word is “cowardice”], but of power and love and discipline.


Never be afraid to teach the truth.


That is our calling as pastors.


Love Gives You Courage


When you realize that one of the most loving things you can ever do for people is to help them live out God’s principles of giving, it gives you the courage to ask them for concrete giving commitments.


Asking people to give is an act of love because when they get their giving in order:


☑️ Their marriages improve.

☑️ Their spiritual lives deepen.

☑️ Their faith grows.

☑️ Their financial condition is dramatically enhanced.


Teaching stewardship is more than raising money; it is God’s way of raising people.


My church members told me repeatedly that the single most life-transforming teaching and leadership I ever gave them was in the area of stewardship.


And they respected me deeply for loving them enough to talk about it.


If you really love your people, you’ll ask them to become generous givers.


Conclusion


There are five common ministerial myths about money and ministry:


Myth # 1: A Truly Godly Pastor Will Never Talk about Money.


The Truth: A Faithful Pastor Will Regularly Talk about Money.


Myth # 2: I Can Build a Great Ministry without Raising Money.


The Truth: God Has Inextricably Linked Ministry to Money.


Myth # 3: It Is Not My Responsibility to Raise the Money for My Church.


The Truth: It Is the Senior Pastor's Responsibility to Raise the Money for His Church.


Myth # 4: If I Just Pray and Preach on Giving, People Will Give as They Should.


The Truth: To Get People to Give as They Should You Must Also Ask For a Specific Commitment.


Myth # 5: If I Ask For a Giving Commitment, It Will Hurt the Church Because Many People Will Be Offended and Will Leave.


The Truth: Only Non-Givers May Be Offended and Their Departure Won't Hurt Your Church.


If you reject these myths, embrace the truths, and lead boldly, God will greatly bless your church financially.

 

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