Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Role of Preaching in the Financial Health of the Church - Lesson 11

Jesus taught about money in sixteen of the thirty-eight parables. One out of ten verses in the gospels deal directly with the subject of money. Over 1000 verses in the Bible are about money and possession (only 500 verses deal with prayer). It is very important that the senior teaching staff of the church teach periodically from the pulpit on the subject of money in an intentional, straight forward, unapologetic way with no compromises for what scripture says about generosity and giving.

These are strong statements but just in case it wasn't clear...

Let's look at what Malachi says in Chapter 3. This is taken from the ESV Bible.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi provides the type of straight forward teaching we should have in our churches on Biblical financial principles.

A Biblical view on money is a difficult topic to preach on, because it is so often misunderstood. But that is because churches aren't diligent about teaching believers the Biblical view of money. Preaching on money should never eclipse preaching the gospel, but in light of how much time Jesus spent talking about money, it cannot be ignored. A healthy view of money in the life of the church and the believer can only be achieved with intentional, periodic, challenging and sound teaching.

That doesn't give the pastor license to put a guilt trip on his congregation in an effort to prompt them to give. I watched a U-Tube video a few weeks ago in which the pastor of an evangelical church on "giving Sunday" told his congregation that each person's annual giving was like their light bill or their water bill that they needed to pay. It was their obligation to pay their bill to God. Well I didn't even watch the rest of the video, because the approach and maybe even the theology behind those words were just wrong. Remember the Holy Spirit is the author of our generosity and God provides the resources.  We give because we are created in God's image and He is a giver (John 3:16) not because we have some kind of a "cosmic bill" to pay.

This pastor needs to understand that he is not just sharing information on an alternate approach to the everyday financial challenges of life and he is not just trying to motivate people to part with their hard earned money. When he is teaching Biblical principles he is teaching spiritual wisdom, not just financial facts. Financial teaching should be a time of spiritual growth and faith building that reaches out to the heart, mind and spirit of believers. Stick to scripture and rely on the Holy Spirit and God will bless your preaching in this area.


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