People just don’t like to talk about money. Maybe you’ve already come to that conclusion. But did you know this? More people dislike talking about money than death or politics or taxes. (Yes, you read that right!)
A survey from Wells Fargo last year revealed “nearly half of Americans say the most challenging topic to discuss with others is personal finance.”
It’s not just your church. It’s not just the people at your church. No one seems to like it!
Interestingly, although conversations about money seem to be avoided or heated, financial concerns are staying top-of-mind. Two in five people in the survey said money is the source of the most stress in their life, and one in three people said they’ve lost sleep worrying over finances.
And when you look generationally, 71% reported learning to spend and save from their parents, but only one-third of today’s parents reported teaching these principles to their children. You see, there’s a fallout happening.
Now as long as we’re being perfectly honest here – full disclosure – let’s add in the complexity that many pastors don’t like to talk about money either. So they tend to approach it once a year, usually when there’s a need for commitment. Maybe you’ve experienced it. Everyone in the church sees it coming from a mile away, the church leaders fully anticipate a decline in attendance, and it’s officially taboo for another 51 weeks.
Unfortunately, giving and generosity are rarely growing or healthy in these kinds of environments. As a pastor, avoidance simply isn’t your friend.
So let’s get practical. What’s the personal application after learning this? We know we’ve avoided the money topic in the past, and we know our people don’t like to talk about it. But if we really believe generosity is a spiritual issue – that giving has something to do with our relationship with God – we can’t just shrug our shoulders, cross our fingers, and hope for the best.
Here are three things you can start doing this week to begin opening some doors:
1. Normalize the conversation.
If talking about money becomes normal, the stigma starts to go away and culture starts to change. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog post a couple years ago, but it still stands true today.
Conversations about giving and generosity can happen at many points during your service, throughout the week, on social media, and in video. Consider some creative ways you can do this outside the offering moment. Doing this will fuel curiosity, shift the conversation, and compel people to action.
I challenge you today to intentionally plan how you will communicate about giving over the next month as a start to normalizing the conversation.
2. Create a culture of generosity.
Think about your church’s culture for a moment. Would you say your church is generous?
I’ve written before about three key steps to take in creating a culture of generosity at your church. It’s worth a read if you’ve not already done so, particularly for the free giving analysis I offer at the end, but the premise is this: generosity must be woven into every ministry area in order to truly make a cultural shift.
Another post worth a look is one I wrote after speaking at the UnEarth Conference last year. My presentation was called “Three Keys to a Strong Giving Culture in Your Church.” Taking the steps recommended in these posts will help you make positive shifts in your culture.
3. Link discipleship and generosity.
Many churches I’ve worked with have a simple, easily understood, and easily followed method of connecting new people with their church. Maybe you have a solid plan in place, too. First you meet the pastor, then you go to the new member class, then you connect to a life group or start serving… It just makes sense, doesn’t it?
Why would we not create the same environment for givers in the church? Why would we not have a plan in place that takes someone through steps that include first-time givers, intentional givers, and sacrificial givers?
Your people need to understand your giving philosophy. They need to identify where they are on their journey. And they need to know their next step if you expect movement at all.
There are a few blog posts I’ve written on this topic before, and you may find a couple of them particularly useful today as you wrestle with this idea: The Next Steps of Generosity and The Discipleship Path of Generosity.
Notice that none of these three suggestions included preaching a sermon about money. Interesting, isn’t it? (Now, that doesn’t mean you should never preach on the topic – but you know that!) It’s because communication about giving and generosity shouldn’t be limited to a sermon, but it should be fluid throughout someone’s experience at your church in a multitude of ways to make an impact.
Are you ready to start creating a culture of generosity?
Before we know how to take the next step, let’s take a look at where you’ve been through a FREE giving analysis first. You may be surprised at what we can uncover together!