I talk with pastors almost daily. As you might imagine, a hot topic these days for pastors is the current financial condition of their church. As we discuss their church and their particular situation I always find the pastor would like for the church to have more financial resources to do more ministry to help expand the Kingdom. The pastors know it is up to them to help address the situation, but many do not have active plans to address the situation.
I follow up this dialogue with the question: “So, what’s holding you back from addressing the situation?” I get many common responses. I listed the four most common in a previsous post http://wp.me/pPMNN-2Q if you would like to read them all. The first one listed is “I’m not sure if it is the right time to talk about money.” My immediate and passionate reply is “If not you pastor, who?” You can read my post on this topic at http://wp.me/pPMNN-2S.
Another common response I receive from pastors is “I don’t want to be perceived as insensitive and ask people to consider giving more during these economic times.” This is a response I can certainly understand and sympathize with. These are definitely some uncertain financial times for many of our people and there are definitely people in our churches who are struggling with their personal financial situations. No pastor ever wants to be perceived as being insensitive toward their people regarding any subject. However, I also believe no pastor ever wants to be considered irrelevant or out of touch with their people either.
If pastors and church leaders choose not to speak and teach about the current financial situation in worship because of a fear of being insensitive, they are making a tactical error and assuming a big risk.
Error – Not talking about giving and the current financial status of your church will only make the problem worse. Many churches are hurting financially due to the fact that many of their people are hurting financially. The impact of the current recession has certainly impacted churches all over the country. The tough financial times have not been exclusive to certain types of churches or size churches or churches in a certain area of the country. Many churches have made reactive decisions to try and settle things down and adjust to the “new normal” we all are living in as it pertains to the economy. Reactive decisions were necessary in many situations, but now that the waters have calmed, where do we go from here?
Finance teams, church leaders, church staffs, and congregation members want/demand reassurance from the Senior Leader that they are going to be ok. They want biblical reassurance, intellectual reassurance, and spritual reassurance. Not having a proactive strategy in place to address the financial demands on the church is a HUGE tactical error. Not communicating publically (in worship) the plans with the congregation to address the financial demands is a HUGE tactical error. People want to know there is a well thought out plan to address the financial concerns of the church and they want to hear it from the senior pastor; not the finance chair or a lay leader! A lay leader can present the plan as a follow up to the senior pastor’s communication, but the original communication needs to come from the top.
Risk – Not talking about the economy and finances will put you at risk of being perceived as irrelevant and out of touch with your congregation. People attend church for a variety of reasons. A common reason is people are looking for hope. Hope for themselves, their spouse, their children, their business, their lives. If someone in your church is hurting due to a job loss or a reduction in salary, they need hope. People who are hurting want to hear what their pastor has to say about hope and what the Bible has to say about their particular situation. People who are hurting want to know that their pastor is in touch with their pain and can offer biblical insights and encouragement for them to make it through the tough times.
I can understand the concern about being perceived as insensitive if talking about money right now in worship, but being perceived as irrelevant is a much larger risk. People want to be led by a pastor who understands their situation and is willing to walk through it with them. A portion of that walk with people is helping them understand that their senior pastor is there for them and is willing to offer insights and teachings to encourage them and help them through these tough economic times.
If God puts it on your heart to talk to your people about stewardship during this tough economic time; I encourage you to do it. To not do it could be an error you don’t want to make and a risk you don’t want to take.