Are Pastors Paralyzed by the economy?


I have been asked at least 100 times in the past month “How’s business?”  My standard response is “Ok.  I have  meaningful conversations with pastors and lay leaders almost daily about their churches.”  The conversation goes from struggling operating budgets to postponed building projects to debt reduction.  Without fail, the people I talk to know they are going to have to act on the growing needs of their church sooner rather than later; whether the needs are financial, space, or vision.

I will typically ask pastors “So, what’s holding you back?”  Here are some recurring themes in response to my question:

  • I’m not sure if it is the right time to talk about money.
  • I don’t want to be perceived as insensitive and ask people to consider giving more during these economic times.
  • I know we need more space, but how do we present this need to the congregation without being perceived the wrong way?
  • I know we need help, but we are struggling financially.  How do we pay for it?

I will expand on each of these responses in future posts, but my general conclusion from them all is I feel pastors are most concerned about how to talk about money when many in their congregation are hurting financially.  There is a tension between what they know needs to be done intellectually on the financial side and how their hearts feel compassion for those hurting financially.  Pastors are a bit paralyzed right now.

What do you think?

2 Comments

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  1. Michael

    “I’m not sure if it is the right time to talk about money.”– Alan, I think this quote sums up the general attitude of pastors period. Money is a subject that so few pastors want to touch with any degree of emphasis, at least in my own church experience. Another thing that’s troubling is when the subject is taught–it’s usually about giving and generosity. It would be nice to have a balanced approach from pastors–not just about giving, but also being wise with what you have. Stewardship actually refers to management skills—but so many use it as a keyword for “giving to the church”.

    The majority of people in our nation have poor money management skills–look at lottery winners and pro athletes who make millions…only to be broke a few years later. There is a great amount of biblical wisdom when it comes to managing money…not just about giving…but in my experience, there are few church leaders willing to even scratch the surface.

    • Alan Wildes

      Michael,

      Thank you for your feedback. I agree with your comments. We are working hard to help churches realize they need a comprehensive Generosity Game Plan to address ALL of the stewardship needs in their church and for their people. Money management is huge in helping people be financially, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Giving is so close to God’s heart. He knows that is the final frontier of complete trust for so many of us. We will give God control of the most important things in our lives: spouse, children, business, health, and others, but for some reason we think we can manage the money God gives us better than He can.

      I still struggle with trusting God with my finances sometimes, but when my wife and I gave up control of our finances and turned them over to God over 15 years ago, our relationship with God, each other, and our friends dramatically changed. We still have money issues at times. We still struggle with the wants vs. needs issue at times. We still have some heated discussions about money sometimes, but things work out very quickly once we realize what is happening and we hit our knees and invite God into the equation. It is a beautiful thing. My passion in ministry is to try and either directly guide folks toward that type of lifestyle change or indirectly help that experience take place through pastors and ministry leaders in churches. It is a lofty goal, but a worthy one.

      Thanks again for your comments.

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