I'm guessing it’s never easy for a pastor to talk about money at church. It’s even harder to hear as a first time visitor. There’s a perception by some unchurched folks that all a church wants from them is their money. Not building a relationship and helping them grow their faith. Just money.
While we don’t talk a lot about communications strategies within a sermon here at Church Juice, I think there are certain topics, like money, that probably need some strategic thought in terms of how it applies to a guest.
I remember last year, during the beginning of the economic fallout here in the U.S., my pastor, Dale Hummel, was slated to give a tithing sermon. It had been planned out for more than a year, so the timing turned out to be perfect. Pastor Dale did a good job setting the frame work for talking about money before diving into the sermon. First, he addressed that it’s an unpopular topic. Second, he specifically told first time visitors that every sermon wasn’t about money. He even addressed the stereotype I mentioned above.
I think Pastor Dale made another good point, based on real life applications, when explaining why it shouldn’t be taboo to talk about money in church. He put it like this. There are places where we spend a lot of time. Take the mall for example. When we leave our favorite store we don’t say, “All these people wanted was my money. I’m never going back there again.”
From a visitor’s perspective, I think it’s good to address the money issue in this kind of way. I think it lays it out there. It’s telling the visitor, I know you may be skeptical that we’re talking about money. It’s not what we always do, but it’s biblical so we’re going to discuss it.
(As a side note, I the sermon itself was guest friendly as well. It wasn’t about the church’s budget. But it was about giving back to God what it His in the first place. Pastor Dale taught it’s more than giving, but also an act of faith showing that you put your trust in God by tithing, even in a rough economic times. God can take care of you when the financial system falls apart.)