Money Resources

I’ve recently been writing about money and why I no longer dread preaching about it. I thought I’d recommend some money resources that have helped me personally and in ministry.

Money Resources

BOOKS

ARTICLES & E-BOOKS

SERMONS

  • Giving 2.0 (Andy Stanley) — Extremely helpful explanation of why regular, percentage giving to a church makes such an impact.
  • Generosity (Luke Simmons) — I’m kind of partial to this one.
  • Hope and Money (Tim Keller) — So good.

ORGANIZATIONS & CLASSES

Why I No Longer Dread Preaching About Money, Part 4

I used to dread preaching about money. Not anymore.

Here are a few reasons I’ve already discussed:

  1. I’m certain that money is one of God’s main competitors.
  2. I’m convinced money is a spiritual thermometer and thermostat.
  3. I’ve seen that people respond to being challenged in this area.
  4. I’ve witnessed massive spiritual growth in people who have started to honor God financially.

Here’s a final reason:

church parking lot

5. I’m aware of how much money is required for strong ministry in a growing church.

Ministry costs money. It costs money to:

  • Buy Bibles to give away.
  • Rent meeting rooms.
  • Buy a sound board, speakers, microphones, gaffer’s tape, etc.
  • Provide coffee and refreshments.
  • Keep the room comfortable with heating or cooling.
  • Free up pastors to preach, lead, and equip.
  • Print signage that directs people where to go.
  • Buy changing tables and toys for kids environments.
  • Create life-changing student camp experiences.
  • Organize mission trips.

You could go on and on. Ministry costs money.

And, in a North American context, strong ministry in a growing church costs more money.

Common sense people understand this. In his helpful e-book, 39 Things Pastors Need to Know About Money, Michael Lukaszewski makes the point that even unchurched people understand this:

Unchurched people may not know Jesus, but they are not stupid. They understand that it takes money to run an organization. They know you can’t write “Pay to the Order of Faith” on a check. Unchurched people appreciate honesty, whether you are talking about faith, prayer or money.

As an inexperienced pastor, prior to church planting, I underestimated how much money is required to plant a church and grow a church. But seeing the real costs made me less sheepish about talking about — and asking for — money.

Now, pastoring an established church that is looking for land and contemplating future permanent facilities, I really see how much money is required.

For instance, do you know how much money it takes to construct each parking space?

$5,000.

Crazy, right? Build a church for 1,000 people and you’re investing $1.5 million into just parking.

But you wouldn’t go to a church (or business or restaurant or park) that had zero parking spaces.

Strong ministry in a growing church requires a lot of money. So don’t feel bad about preaching about it.

Why I No Longer Dread Preaching About Money, Part 3

I used to dread preaching about money. Not anymore.

Here are a few reasons I’ve already discussed:

  1. I’m certain that money is one of God’s main competitors.
  2. I’m convinced money is a spiritual thermometer and thermostat.

preaching about money

Today I want to give a few more reasons:

3. I’ve seen that people respond to being challenged in this area.

People want to grow spiritually. That’s why they keep coming to church, getting involved in groups and serving in ministry.

Therefore people love to be challenged to grow. In the REVEAL report of a few years ago, thousands of church attenders indicated that one of the most important things their church can do for them is, “Challenge me to grow and take next steps.”

I’ve experienced this to be true, especially when people are convinced you want their good. Just recently I saw this play out in powerful ways through our 90-Day Tithe Challenge, as 85 households took our challenge.

4. I’ve witnessed massive spiritual growth in people who have started to honor God financially.

One of my favorite moments in ministry was when a couple in our church invited us over to dinner to share some very exciting news with us.

A few months earlier, after I had preached on money and tithing, they had pushed back on me pretty hard, saying that they couldn’t tithe because they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills if they gave away the first 10%. I listened, stood firm on the Scripture and gently asked if perhaps the reason they were often struggling to pay their bills was because they had never firmly committed to honor God with the first of their income.

They ended up deciding to tithe first, no matter what. Now, months later, they were inviting us over to share what had happened.

In those few months:

  • They had turned off their cable and found that they were spending more time playing together as a family.
  • The wife had quit the gym, started running and walking in the neighborhood, and had lost about 20 pounds.
  • They had, amazingly, paid off thousands of dollars of debt.
  • Unexpected one-time money dropped into their lap in surprising ways.
  • Though they had been ready to receive foster kids into their home for almost a year without any placements, they had just received their first placement. They said that it would have been previously impossible to have enough financial margin to care for those kids.

Finally, they handed me a big check that completed their commitment to our church’s building campaign, a commitment that they never thought they’d really be able to fulfill.

Though they had no new, regular stream of income, they had less debt, more margin, greater health, improved family life, and more ability to give generously.

Think about how an experience like that grows your faith!

It grew mine for sure, but it grew theirs even more. They are even more eager to trust God’s word and more invested in the Kingdom of Christ.

We recently did a 90-Day Tithe Challenge and I heard similar stories of how people’s faith had grown:

“Being a part of the tithing challenge was a big step for me. Prior to this event I would at best classify myself as a God tipper (to use your breakdowns). My wife was a regular contributor but I tended to sit back. I think this more than likely stems from my history with organized religions who I often saw as more concerned with getting money from their parishioners than strengthening their relationship with God. Having been a part of the tithing challenge I now find myself closer to the church, a greater part of the community, and growing in my relationship with the Lord.”

There’s no question about it. People grow spiritually when they honor God with their money and giving.

Why I No Longer Dread Preaching About Money, Part 2

I used to dread preaching about money. Not anymore.

Money is perhaps God’s greatest competition for the hearts of people. But here’s another reason:

I’m convinced money is a spiritual thermometer and thermostat.

preaching about money

Money is a spiritual thermometer. It reads the temperature of somebody’s trust in God. Show me somebody who is an irresponsible steward or stingy and I’ll show you a person who isn’t very spiritually mature. On the other hand, show me somebody who is responsible and generous, and I’ll show you a person who is trusting in the Lord.

But money is also a spiritual thermostat. It sets the temperature of your trust in God. Want to trust God more? Give more.

Jesus taught this when he said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, ESV)

How we handle money reveals both where are hearts are and where they will be.

Therefore, as a pastor, I can’t treat money as a sideshow issue that I’m hesitant to address. I wouldn’t treat prayer that way. I wouldn’t feel nervous exhorting people to read the Bible. Instead, I’ll preach boldly that prayer, Bible reading, and stewardship are all important ingredients to a growing faith.

Pastor, if you want to see your people’s faith grow, don’t shy away from preaching on money.

(Check out these stories of incredible spiritual growth that came from trusting God financially)

Why I No Longer Dread Preaching About Money, Part 1

talking about money

I used to dread preaching about money.

Most people think that pastors love to talk about money, and some non-Christians think all pastors talk about is money (Thanks, TBN). But in reality, many pastors and church planters I know are sheepish when it comes to talking about money, fundraising, or asking people to give. I used to be.

It makes sense for at least three reasons:

  1. Money is a very personal issue and can make people feel uncomfortable.
  2. Since a pastor’s salary is paid by the congregation’s giving, it can feel like a self-serving conflict of interest.
  3. Many pastors have a poverty mind-set that sees scraping by as almost a badge of holiness.

I was also trained in a church that did mostly verse-by-verse preaching and avoided topical series (like ones on money). We didn’t bump into many “money” passages, so I didn’t have a lot of exposure to sermons about money (though the ones I heard were good).

But now I love preaching about money.

Over the next few posts, I want to share some of the reasons. Here’s the first one:

I’m certain that money is one of God’s main competitors.

This isn’t a new idea, but it’s an important one. Jesus didn’t say that we would have to choose between serving God or Satan. He said we’d have to choose between serving God and money (Matthew 6:24).

Particularly in North America, money and possessions contend for the hearts of people. Many people don’t start exploring spiritual questions until they’ve hit a tough patch financially.

It’s hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, because they don’t think they need anything. It’s also hard for poor people to enter the kingdom of God because they think what they need is money, not God.

To be a faithful pastor, I must exhort people to love God and use money, not love money and use God.

[This is part 1 of 4. Check out Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 as well as some helpful resources on money]

What I Learned from Our 90-Day Tithe Challenge

At Redemption Church Gateway, we recently completed a 90-Day Tithe Challenge. We issued the challenge as part of our “Building a Stronger Church” series in a message simply titled, “Generosity” (you can see me issue the challenge at the 34:23 mark).

90 day tithe challenge

The challenge was to either start giving 10% or, for those who were already tithing, to intentionally increase their giving.

Here’s what I learned.

1. People respond to being challenged.

This is especially true if they think you have their best interest at heart. I told people that we weren’t doing this because we needed the money, but because we wanted to grow their faith.

This seemed to resonate, as 85 households took the challenge.

2. It helps if you provide resources and encouragement.

Within the first week, we sent everybody who responded a copy of Randy Alcorn’s book, Managing God’s Money. Many indicated that this helped them get an even fuller perspective of how to be a good steward.

We also offered a Financial Peace University class, helping people get out of debt and build habits toward generosity.

Along the way, I also sent email updates encouraging folks who responded. I think this encouragement helped them stay on track and helped me remember to pray for them.

3. Some people experienced challenges as they stepped up to honor God more faithfully.

This really isn’t surprising and I warned people to expect some difficulty. For some, it showed up, but also caused them to lean on God.

“Your encouragement is appreciated since I lost my job a week and a half ago, virtually eliminating the sustaining income for our family. It has nothing to do with the commitment we made, but the timing is never right for something like this. My husband truck broke down today and we will have to incur a huge expense to get it repaired since he uses it on his job. I would love to tell you that we remain joyful and full of hope, but today has not been a good day for those feelings.  We remain steadfast that nothing happens that the Lord doesn’t allow and our faith is constant and intact.  Also that He never gives us more than we can handle.  But feeling-wise?  Yuck about sums it up.”

“Right after I signed up for this challenge I got a letter from social security saying they had made an error in my payments and had overpaid me for two months, Nov. and Dec.  To fix it they are reducing my payments until the difference has been made up.  I am still sticking with what I said I would give and trusting God to meet my needs.  I just laughed when I got the letter, remembering that you had said we might expect challenges! God is bigger than social security.”

4. Numerous people experienced their faith growing as God showed up in a big way. 

A number of people replied to my emails, telling me how the experience was going. Here are some examples (I’m really not making these up!):

“We have managed to cut back the frivolous spending and focus on what is most important.  By doing this we have managed to use what we have and not dip into the savings that we had planned we would need for the day to day expenses.  I know this is God providing and showing us what is most important!”

“God has shown up in big ways during this challenge. So very real. It’s been a blessing. In fact I am blessed to be paying an enormous tax bill if you can believe that.”

“The months of December and January was a struggle for us financially, but we stayed faithful in tithing, and in February God blessed us with some unexpected money! I was overwhelmed that this money came at the perfect time and in the perfect amount! AND…if that wasn’t enough in March God again gave us MORE unexpected money! I was totally humbled by his faithfulness! What a Great God we have!”

“A week back we were struggling to pay a huge debt for a dentist which we had used for our daughter and my weekly earning was not enough to do that and meet the all other needs. But we continued to choose not to stop our tithe in any circumstance.   I always have strong faith that God will provide. It was amazing. When my wife went for the next appointment the dentistry informed her that one of our neighbors had come and settle all that due payment. Not to mention that person is not from our church either. It is amazing how God works.”

“God has worked in amazing ways since I accepted this challenge. We have received unexpected money since I first gave. I have also started a healthy eating program that came my way after asking God for something to help me get in better shape allowing me to be better at my job and be a better mother and wife. It feels really good to give back financially and has created less stress for me, personally.”

“Shortly after I signed up for the challenge and/or figured out the 10% increase thing, my husband got injured and couldn’t work for 6 WEEKS!  Which meant he wouldn’t get paid for 6 weeks.  WHAT?  How on earth would I be able to give anything?  Ack!  So, the Friday came that I was going to send in my increased amount and I didn’t know what to do.  The Lord spoke to me saying I made a commitment, I need to honor it and I could trust him.  So, I put together a spreadsheet showing how much each week would be and went on-line and gave that weeks’ amount.  It wasn’t much of an increase but with one income gone, it certainly seemed like a lot! The next Wednesday,  I got an e-mail from my boss saying I qualified for a BONUS!  I hadn’t qualified for a bonus on almost a year!  I love how God works and I love even more that my first thought was ‘I can give the entire 10% of this bonus AND next weeks’ increased amount!'”

“We have increased our giving to 10-11% and plan to remain at that level of giving back to God what is His to begin with. God has been faithful to provide a promotion in the last couple of weeks along with news that my annual pay increase may be a larger than anticipated. So He’s making ‘room’ in our budget to allow us to remain faithful to Him.”

“Being a part of the tithing challenge was a big step for me. Prior to this event I would at best classify myself as a God tipper (to use your breakdowns). My wife was a regular contributor but I tended to sit back. I think this more than likely stems from my history with organized religions who I often saw as more concerned with getting money from their parishioners than strengthening their relationship with God. Having been a part of the tithing challenge I now find myself closer to the church, a greater part of the community, and growing in my relationship with the Lord.”

“Because my spouse isn’t a believer and won’t allow me to tithe, I have struggled with this. At the Christmas challenge I started giving out of my own business account even though I didn’t know if I would have enough every month. Since then, my business has been non stop craziness. We were able to arrange to pay off our biggest credit card debt. I feel rich, not in a monetary way, but in the beauty of God’s provision and love. Thanks for encouraging us to give above and beyond.”

5. God used this process to bless our church financially in some important ways.

Over the course of these 90 days, our giving has exceeded our budget by $123,831. Amazing.

As a result, we will be able to:

  • Move our part-time groups pastor to full-time, freeing him up to more fully develop an essential ministry for our growing church.
  • Hire a part-time all church admin to help manage and lead the many events and details of a growing church.
  • Redecorate our kids classrooms, adding more color and kid-friendly life to the environment.
  • Increase our ministry budgets, allowing our leaders to be more creative with their ministries.
  • Save a significant amount of money toward future land and church-planting opportunities.

+++

I expected God to work through this 90-Day Tithe Challenge. I had no idea it would be this powerful.

If money and generosity are both a thermometer and thermostat of our faith, then I think it’s fair to say that our church is growing spiritually in a big way.

P.S. Recent research also confirms that people who tithe faithfully statistically are in more financial health. I would argue this is the result, not the cause, of their generosity.