Maybe I’m too dumb to know any better…

i was thinking about writing about my favorite pizza toppings or the new mumford and sons CD tonight.  i hadn’t decided which one.  but then i started doing some reading and stumbled on this article entitled, “Four ways to boost your church’s year-end giving”.

i should have stuck with pizza toppings.

the author gave some ideas for getting people to give more money to the church at the end of the year… especially with their end-of-the-year bonuses.  now i’m all for people giving money.  it’s a good thing.  personally, i’m pretty much speechless when i think about the sacrifices people make so i can do what i do.

you can read the article, if you want to.  it’s nothing you’ll hear me say or write.  there’s nothing wrong with it.  it’s just not what i think about.  it’s also another reason (in the long list of reasons) why i’m not getting invitations to write for church leadership journals any time soon.

however, if i were asked to write something about church finances tonight, here would be my article:

“how to keep your church from obsessing about money”

1.  learn to live within your means.  everybody else in life has to learn to do it.  why shouldn’t the church?

2.  raise up church leaders who are content with simple personal lifestyles.  simple, godly leaders who are content with what they have and have learned to say “enough is enough” on a personal level, will be inclined to lead their church family with the same simple faith.

3.  stop convincing yourself that “good ministry” takes more money.  baloney.  good ministry takes good people who want to honor god with their lives.  these kind of people have a knack for figuring out how the ministry get done.

4.  teach people to give money out of gratitude for the mercy and grace of god.  guilt doesn’t work.  pressure creates enemies.  legalism destroys passion.  even “need” can be deceptive.  we give because god loved us first.  any other motive confuses the issue.

5.  make sure that the needs of people are never ignored.  i have two words for curing the “end-of-the-year” giving shortfall:  advent conspiracy.

6.  don’t ever get in a hurry to buy something costly.  americans have an infatuation with owning stuff.  big stuff.  that attitude is in the church, also.  big purchases almost always suck the life out of a family…especially when the purchase is outside the budget.  proceed carefully.

7.  beware of starting to believe that you…er, god…deserves something better. i don’t mean any disrespect when i say this:  but our king was born in a stable.  he identified with the poor and disenfranchised.  he was not drawn to princes and the powerful.   he doesn’t deserve better stuff.  nor do we.  he deserves our allegiance.

8.  don’t apologize for making people aware of financial need…but don’t wear people out.  start cutting back.  then cut back some more.  that’s why #7 is soooo important.

9.  don’t assume that falling short of your budget needs indicates your people have a giving problem.  it may be a budget problem.

10.  stop confusing “faith” with “i want”.  we are called to live by faith and not by sight.  the problem is “our sight” is always getting us into situations where we are “forced” to live by faith.  this happens too frequently with our finances.  we need to be people of faith.  but maybe our faith could be directed at higher priorities if our “sight” would stop getting us in financial messes.  just sayin’.

this is not the end-all of truth about church finances and giving.  it’s complex.  it’s layered.  our relationship with money will always be a battle.  so stay in the battle!

and you can be confident we will pass the buckets this sunday.

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