Three Money Mistakes Pastors Make

Here are three money mistakes many pastors make.

1. Not communicating ENOUGH.

Stewardship Sunday and the quick mention about online giving in the weekly update are not enough. People in the real world deal with money every day, so this is something you have to talk about on a regular basis.

You need a strategy for talking about money every Sunday, preaching a holistic financial series once a year, and communicating with donors consistently. You need a strategy that brings together the worship service, mid-week communication, email, snail mail and other tools at your disposal.

Most churches have a plan to spend the money (an annual budget), but very few have a plan to actually receive the money. A funding plan is just as important as a spending plan. Without the first, there’s no money to spend in the second. As a pastor, you need an annual plan that encompasses teaching, communication, appreciation, special offerings, events and more.

2. Informing, not inspiring or asking.

Wait, informing people is a good thing, right? Well, it’s a good start but it’s not enough.

You don’t need to just INFORM people…you need to INSPIRE them. Giving to the budget is typically not very inspiring for people. Yes, some people will do it because they understand the Scripture. But other people need to understand what’s at stake and be inspired by what’s happening.

This is why stories are so powerful. Stories aren’t built on facts and stats…they speak to human emotions. They reach into people’s lives. When you talk about the offering and you ask people to give, you need to inspire them, not just guilt them.  That’s why one third of our giving talk scripts are built on stories.

Just like failing to inspire is a mistake, failing to call people to action is a mistake. When you pass the plate in church on Sunday, don’t assume that everyone knows what’s going on. Slow down and give clear instructions. Don’t say, “We have an offering.” That’s informing. Give people clear instructions and ask them to participate.

Don’t just tell people they can give online. Give them clear instructions – SHOW them how it works – and clearly ask them to do it. Informing is good…asking is better.

3. Listening to the one loud voice.

Most churches have this person. We often call him “everybody.” Sometimes, this one person, or this small group of people get labeled “they.”

  • Pastor, people are starting to wonder.
  • They say we talk about money too much,
  • People think a Giving Kiosk is too weird.

Don’t let the fear of a few keep you from leading the entire church in generosity. When you introduce new ways to give, somebody will have some feedback. But in most cases, what a few people are saying is not what the majority is thinking.

We’ve worked with dozens of churches to implement a digital giving strategy, and in just about every case, there was a person or a small group of people on a finance team who had serious problems with credit card fees.

These are not bad people, and in most cases, they really do want what’s best for the church. But when we explain the benefits and help them understand the options, they often come around. Sadly, too many churches never get to this point because the loud voices squelch passion and new ideas.

Have you made any of those three mistakes?  The good news is you can learn from your mistakes and keep growing as a leader.