Can I let you in on a pastor’s open secret? We ministers really do not like to talk about money. So says most every member of the clergy I know, including the one who weekly writes under the headline “Money Talks.” We shy away from it often for fear of misrepresented motivations. Truly, there are no shortages of Christian charlatans out there, but the bulk of pastors I know just want to lead their people to be faithful and financially enable the ministry God has called them to lead. Often we hold back out of fear of criticism or deflection of the message. And we are more sensitive than you know to people of more limited means who have been exemplars in stewardship – and these solid saints are the first to feel bad that they cannot do more. There are many reasons to leave this subject alone.
But Jesus didn’t. He talked about money and giving more than heaven and hell combined. He did so because he knew that money does talk and tells the stories of hearts and treasures and their relationship to one another. It tells whether or not we truly trust God with our financial life. It reveals if we believe that the road to a generous life arrives at a deep and happy one. Do we need more to be thankful for or simply need to be more thankful? What we do with our money reveals what kind of legacy we want to leave – a direct reflection of our core character. What will yours say about you? What will your grandchildren say mattered to you? How will they know? Randy Travis, whose guitarist was my cousin Rick Money, sang it like this:
“I guess it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you
It’s what you leave behind you when you go”
When it comes to reaching, redeeming, and repairing this broken world, the hope of the world is the local church. Bill Hybels famously said that, and I wholeheartedly concur. When the local church is strong and its influence far-reaching, lives get changed and his kingdom comes. His will gets done. On earth as it is in heaven. Money alone won’t make this happen, but it won’t happen without money, specifically God’s money that we are stewards of.
Did you know that nearly $90,000 of our budget is earmarked for missions beyond our own? That an electric bill in the hot season can top $15,000 per month? That every member of your staff knows they could make more in other vocational settings, but feels called of God to serve, love and lead here? That we put $4,000 per month in deferred maintenance but know that will not begin to cover expenses like chillers, roofs, sound and electrical systems, and the like? Our budget is not an extravagant one, and frankly not sufficient to do the ministry we need to do. The good news is that I know it is not a reflection of what we can do, or what God desires and will enable us to do.
So in these next two Sundays, we are asking our folks to reach deeper. Tie the virtues of Thanks and Giving together as we show what intentional, committed giving can look like. And as you are individually generous, we will do the same corporately by doubling the amount we set aside for missions. I believe these two Sundays, often not the strongest of offerings on the church calendar, could be a special sign of our commitment to God’s work among us and a springboard to greater measures of faithfulness ahead. I know we can. For as Ephesians 3:20 reminds us, God is “able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine through his power that is at work within us.” His commitment is clearly in place. The question is whether or not ours is. I can imagine us doing a lot more than we are. And God can imagine us doing a lot more than that. Let money talk and tell the story of a people wholly committed to the work at hand and to the God who has called us to it.