Carol Howard Merritt wrote of "Missteps In Church Planting" in the July 22, 2015 edition of The Christian Century. Included in these missteps were not sharing the burden of ministry and failing to share decision making. But the number one mistake--not addressing stewardship in the early days. One church planter said, "We neglected to talk about money because of past hurt and a Prosperity Gospel message that turned so many people off. This persisted into year four, and we failed to develop a community of giving and support."
Most of us know scripture is filled with teaching about stewardship. One out of every three verses in the New Testament has something to do with giving. (Okay, I just made that stat up, but seriously, the amount of attention Jesus gives to money, possessions, stewardship and wealth is staggering.)
And yet many preachers find themselves shying away when it comes time to preach and teach about giving.
Speaking as a preacher, I can quickly give you the number one reason. It is not that I am afraid people will complain. I have never been too concerned about this. But especially when I was younger, I did worry about the appearance of lining my pockets. As one who was dependent on the church for my salary, what would the congregation think about me as I harangued them to give more?
This is narcissism at its finest. What I now know is the congregation as a whole wasn't thinking about me and my feelings. They never thought on the few occasions I preached on giving, "Well, I guess Chris is worried about us making budget so he will get paid."
You know what the church thought when I preached on giving?
Honestly, I am not really sure what they thought. They probably thought any number of things. "Boy he is so right." "I wish he would quit meddling." "I need to start giving more." "That tie does not match his suit." "I've never thought about it that way before." "When will he finish this sermon and what is for lunch."
Who knows what they think.
But here is what I do know. When people get it--the joy and the responsibility of giving--their lives are blessed. They are changed people. And good things happen.
Why would I not teach on giving at every opportunity?