3 Ways to Navigate the Tension between Church and Money

showmethemoneyIt’s the end of the year, so why not talk about the thing that NO ONE enjoys talking about. Churches and Money! I love that part in Jerry Maguire when he’s so desperate – he gives into unabashedly yelling “Show Me The Money!!!”

There is often a considerable amount of TENSION that exists when it comes to this subject. Some feel it because they don’t understand WHY the church wants their money. Some feel it because they religiously give to their local church and struggle with those “free-loaders” who are enjoying the benefits that their local church offers, but are refusing to invest in it. Some just struggle personally with how much to give (before tax, after tax, what percentage, what fixed amount), and some simply struggle with HOW many churches try to manipulate people into giving more (and more, and more).

I understand this tension from a different perspective. I’m a pastor. I literally see people’s entire body clench up when I bring up the topic of money. It’s actually quite a sight to see.

I lead an amazing church. I manage a large budget that is 100% dependent on God using the obedience and generosity of folks within the church to fund that budget (staff, ministry, missions, etc). It’s a challenge. I LOVE talking about the blessing of stewardship… when the church is doing fine. I really struggle to talk about giving when the church is behind in it’s budget.

So the tension is real, no matter who you are in a church.

So let’s talk about it.

This is the end of the year and many non-profits, including churches, will talk about YEAR-END giving. This is predominantly driven by the end of the TAX YEAR and the opportunity to give tax-deductible gifts to your church (or favorite non-profit). It’s also a part of a season of generosity… of giving… of blessing others around you. Churches and non-profits rely heavily on end of year giving to meet budget and continue to function. It’s just a part of life.

I think the TENSION with Churches and Money will ALWAYS exist – but it doesn’t have to!

Here are 3 perspectives and decisions you can make about money that will resolve this tension in you forever! 

  1. View Giving as a Priority. If you’ve already made the decision to give ANYTHING to a church or non-profit, then you don’t need to feel tension over people asking for a gift. When giving something is a priority – then you can simply view the “asking” as options for you to consider. You know you’re going to give, so just pray and ask God to help you make the decision on where to give it.
  2. Determine to make your Giving a Percentage. The amount of your giving doesn’t need to stress you out if you’ve already pre-determined what your percentage will be. The bible tells us that people gave “based on what they have, not on what they don’t have” (2 Corinthians 8:12). This doesn’t mean you give out of your financial margin (most people don’t have ANY margin). It means your financial gifts are predetermined based on your income, stage of life, and how God has blessed you this year.
  3. Challenge yourself to make Giving Progressive. If giving is already a priority and a predetermined percentage, then the last piece is to understand that it should be progressive. WHY? Because generosity produces generosity. The more you give (without tension) the more you want to give. As a spiritual principle, “the more you give there you will be entrusted with to give” (Luke 6:38) – therefore, you will find yourself progressively giving more every year. If you’ve already decided to make your giving progressive, then when churches & non-profits as for “more.” you won’t feel bad about what you can and cannot do. You will already know how much more you can do, and that will determine your giving.

The reason I split “churches” and “non-profits” is because I personally don’t believe giving to a church should ever be considered based solely on the “tax-deductible” nature of it. Churches are treated like non-profits (for now) and get that benefit. If this should ever change, I don’t believe that should make a difference when it comes to churches.

Once you’ve made the decisions about giving money based on those 3 P’s (Priority, Percentage, and Progressive) – you can shake off the tension that comes this time of year when every church and non-profit starts asking for gifts.

Generous people are not motivated by guilt or the tension of people asking for a year-end gift. They’ve already decided that is more blessed to GIVE than to receive. They’ve already made those decisions concerning their stewardship – the tension is gone.

There is power in the TENSION that comes from understanding money and the church. If you FEEL tension, then you’ve not made those decisions about money ahead of time. Maybe it’s time to consider those 3 P’s and find freedom in your giving!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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