Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

3 Areas Churches Have Messed Up In Biblical Finance Teaching

Photo by Michael Mistretta
The Church Has Messed Up

In my last post How To Give The Tithe In The Right Way, I answered one of my blog reader's emails regarding the giving of the tithe. She and her family had been giving their tithe spread out or diversified among a number of various para-church ministries. She was asking my opinion on giving the tithe in this manner.

In that particular post, I took a Scriptural view of both the Old and New Testament giving. We took a look at how and where both the Jews and Christians gave their tithes and offerings back to God.

In modern times, however, there has been a lot of confusion with members of the universal church as to where they should give their tithes and offerings. Para-church groups have done an excellent job of confusing believers. These organizations have successfully fundraised millions of dollars away from local churches. But, these groups have only been as successful as they have, because the church has completely dropped the ball on the teaching of proper Biblical giving in the first place.

Three Areas Where Churches Have Messed Up

If the Bible teaches us that giving should be done primarily through our local place of worship, why is there a growing trend away from giving to the local church and giving to para-church ministries? In my opinion, there are 3 primary reasons:
  1. Pastors and teachers have been too afraid of preaching on Biblical finances. Over the last 20-30 years, there has been a trend of moving away from strong teaching on Biblical finances. The subjects of money, stewardship, and giving have become taboo to preach on in the local church. Pastors have a better chance of a positive response to preaching on the topic of sex than they do money! This is so odd to me when the Bible has so much to say on the topic of financial wisdom. Christian Americans are very strange and secretive when it comes to personal finances. They don't want their pastors to meddle in an area that they have placed off limits to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. God wants all of us, including our money.
  2. Pastors and teachers have not laid out a clear theology on Biblical giving. This is certainly related to the first point. What I mean is this: we haven't clearly explained the why and where of giving. Why should we give, how much should we give, and where should we give? See my post Portrait of a Biblical Giver.
  3. Church leaders have taken their focus off ministry. With the resurgence of the mega church over the last few decades, pastors and church leaders have become more concerned about large, high tech facilities than the core mission of the church. Many people, especially younger generations, are passionately driven to give by mission and results; not buildings. The next time your local K-LOVE radio station goes through a pledge drive, listen to all the testimonials of changed lives as a result of listening to Christian radio. K-LOVE understands that asking for money to build more buildings, construct more radio towers, and hire additional staff isn't what is going to help them reach their financial needs. They have to highlight the results of these tools to accomplish their mission. A lot of churches could learn to be better "fundraisers" through listening and watching how other successful non-profit groups raise ministry funds.

In conclusion, the church as a whole has severely messed up in this area of communicating Biblical finances. We've been too fearful to preach about financial wisdom. We have not laid out a clear Biblical theology on giving. Finally, many churches have focused on giving to the tools of the church (staff and buildings) rather than the long-term goals and results of ministry (outreach and missions). We have been communicating the wrong message.

In my next post, we'll look at Three Long-Term Giving Solutions For The Church.

Also, check out these related posts:

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