Preaching is a critical component within a broader strategy for stewardship ministry, says church consultant Margaret Marcuson. She provides six tips for more effective preaching on money and stewardship.
It takes more than one good sermon to undergird the stewardship ministry of your congregation. Church leaders can put a lot of weight on that sermon or sermon series, but stewardship preaching and teaching must take place in the context of the overall vision and direction of the congregation, as well as within any particular program you may implement. That said, preaching remains a critical part of any stewardship endeavor. In almost all churches, worship remains the time when you have the greatest number of members and friends. The sermon, even in more liturgical churches, is a central part of worship. Attending to the important task of preaching on the topic of giving is worth the effort.
There is a tension in all preaching, and especially preaching about stewardship, when you are acknowledging that you want more for people in their relationship with money and with giving, while also letting go of the intense desire to change other people. Paradoxically, the more you try to use preaching to change people, the less they are likely to be changed. The more you say, in essence, “You should give more,” or, “You should be less materialistic,” the more they resist. The more frustrated you are, the less effective your preaching will be.
Instead, work to offer your preaching in a spirit of openness, aware of where people are in the way they relate to money and to stewardship. The most powerful preaching about giving comes from a place of self-definition: “Here’s what I believe about giving.” “This is how I understand the Scriptures and God’s call on our lives.” “Here is what I want for our church.” “Here is what I want for myself in my relationship with money.” You can say, “Here is what I’d like.” Don’t hesitate to ask people to give, but do it from an emotional space of openness.
Here are six suggestions for more effective preaching about stewardship and money.
- Define your own views in your stewardship sermons. See them as opportunities for the congregation to hear what you think, rather than as occasions to convince them to do something.
- Acknowledge to the congregation your own challenges in this area. Stand alongside them, rather than over them, pointing a finger.
- Talk about your own efforts to relate spirituality with money. You don’t have to reveal your deepest secrets about your financial life, but you can share something of yourself as a way to help others grow.
- Preach a sermon at a time that is not stewardship/pledge time in which you articulate your values about money.
- Tell stories in your sermons about the church’s money past, especially its founding. Be honest about past financial challenges, but remember to include stories about the strengths and successes, too.
- When you are preaching at stewardship time, don’t hesitate to ask people openly to support the ministry of the church. There’s no need to be apologetic about giving.
This article is excepted from Money and Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance (Marcuson Leadership Circle, 2014) by Margaret J. Marcuson. Used by permission. The book is available at Amazon and margaretmarcuson.com.