How To Help Church Members With Their Personal Finances

When you think about it, church can be a strange place.  We do things like:

  • Drink grape juice and say it’s Jesus’ blood.
  • Dunk people under water and call it a “public profession of faith.”

To lifelong churchgoers, all of this makes sense (and is, in fact, quite meaningful).  But I imagine it can be puzzling and overwhelming to someone who didn’t grow up in church.  I’d be thinking, “I don’t want to drink blood while you shove my head under water!”

One of my pet peeves is when people on church stages assume that everyone in the audience understands their terminology.  I heard a preacher say one time, “You all know the story of John the Baptist.”  Well, what if you’re in the audience and you don’t know the story?  Do you feel like the dork in high school who wasn’t cool enough to get the inside jokes?

Imagine for a moment—what do people with zero church background think when you stand up and ask for money?  First of all, do they even know you’re asking for money?  When you use words like tithe, offering, and stewardship, are you assuming those words have significance to your entire audience?

Here’s the deal:  Some people don’t know what you know.  They haven’t read the books you’ve read.  They haven’t heard the sermons you’ve heard.  They haven’t studied the Bible like you have.

Sometimes, the problem isn’t action—it’s education. 

If people don’t know what “tithing” means, they’re probably not going to tithe!  Why should they?  They have no biblical context for it.  It’s a language they don’t speak.

There are several potential solutions out there, but I want to offer one:

Have a two-hour financial learning experience.

Why a one-time experience and not a 10-week class?  Because most people won’t attend a consistent class.  They may show up for a while, but eventually they fade.  As those types of classes progress, often the people who need them the most disappear.  If you make it a one-time gig, however, I believe you’ll get higher attendance (and higher information retention).

Pick a day and time that works best for the largest percentage of your audience.  How about Sunday after lunch?  How about Thursday night?  Work until you find a time when people can and will show up.  And then promote it like crazy!  Ask questions like, “Do you hate the word budget, but feel like you need one?  Come to our financial experience.”  “Struggling to get out of debt?  Come to our financial experience.”

What are the most helpful and practical principles, tools, and ideas you’ve heard or read about in books, sermons, seminars, articles, podcasts, and conversations?  Take the best of all of that, and go for it!  If you’re not the right person to lead this, figure out who is.

You’re thinking, “Only two hours?  It would take two days!”

  1. People may fall asleep if your program lasts longer than two hours.  And I’m not just talking about dozing—I’m talking R.E.M. Delta Wave sleep!
  2. Over-teaching has the potential to overwhelm your audience.  As Bryan Davis says, “Too much information will make your brain choke.”
  3. Boiling it down to two hours will force you to use only the most vital and helpful content.

Don’t use terms that only financial wizards would understand.  Don’t show a budget spreadsheet that belongs in the masters program at Stanford! 

Offer simple solutions to common problems.

Take some time to educate on tithing:

  • What does it means to the church?
  • What does the Bible say about it?
  • Why does the Bible encourage it?
  • How does it change—and even bless—the person who gives?
  • Why should someone give even if he or she is in debt?

Have some sincere, heartfelt moments.  Tell stories.  Make it personal, not just financial.

Help people grow!  If people can take steps to become healthier financially, it can transform so many areas of their lives.  And it will probably change their giving to your church.

We have an entire, step-by-step system called Giving Rocket that helps you develop givers and your church budget.